Last month, Forgotten Felines of Richland County owed more than $4,000 for veterinary bills.
The local nonprofit is dedicated to having community cats spayed and neutered, following the mantra of trap, neuter, release.
In addition to the spay and neuter efforts, Forgotten Felines socializes and adopts out more than 80 cats and kittens to individuals and shelters each year.
The group is holding its sixth annual CatWalk 5K walk/run, its largest fundraiser of the year, at 2 p.m. Sunday at North Lake Park. The cost is $30 per participant. People can register from 12:30 to 1:30 the day of the race or go to OhioRaceDay.com.
A small but dedicated group of volunteers keeps Forgotten Felines going.
"We have no facility. We have no employees," Carla Waleri said. "Every dollar we receive goes to the cause."
The cats of Forgotten Felines also receive vaccinations and are checked for feline leukemia.
"We're spending over $100 per cat," Waleri said.
Linda Swisher, who was not available for this story, often provides care and lodging for the group's cats. Waleri faithfully feeds homeless cats around town.
"There's patterns I've recognized," she said. "A lot of these people don't pay their rent. After they get thrown out, the cat gets thrown out, too."
In many instances, the cats are abandoned, left to fend for themselves — and breed.
Cats can have 3 or 4 litters a year
Ann Robinson, who is the race director for CatWalk, pointed out cats can have three or four litters a year.
"It's an ongoing problem," she said. "We're always going to have feral cats. Let's make it a healthy community of cats, not one that's going to spread disease."
Money from the CatWalk will help Forgotten Felines complete that mission. As of Monday afternoon, 81 people had registered.
Last year's event generated $4,000. Robinson hopes to top that figure because of an increased number of sponsors for the race/walk. She said almost all area veterinarians are sponsors.
"It's our largest fundraiser," Waleri added. "Other than that, it's a trickle of donations."
Forgotten Felines also participates in Richland Gives through the Richland County Foundation.
Sunday's participants can register for raffle baskets by donating supplies or cat food. Waleri said money, food and unscented litter are their biggest needs.
Ideally, Forgotten Felines could secure a facility, something the late Anne Wendling dreamed of before her passing in 2016.
"A facility costs money," Waleri said. "You need utilities. You need insurance."
Anyone who wants to make a donation can do so through the group's Facebook page.
Humane Society is also having a fundraiser this weekend
It will be a busy weekend for animal lovers. The Humane Society of Richland County will hold a fundraiser of its own at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Phoenix Brewing Co.
The event is called Dogs, Donuts & Drinks 0.5K. Participants and their dogs will take part in a short walk with something sweet to eat and a cold drink after a donut from Buckeye Bakery and a beer or root beer from the Phoenix, along with a bag of treats from Simply Good Dog Bakery for their furry family members.
It is taking the place of the popular Strutt Your Mutt event.
"We look at this as a pared-down version," said Linda Chambers, executive director of the humane society. "It combines all of the same elements but in a much more intimate setting. The community response has been fantastic, and we're so excited to see everyone on Saturday."
The cost to register is $30.
Also included Saturday will be raffle items, nail trimming by Zoom and Groom and photo opportunities under a balloon arch by Taylor's Balloon Twisting. Also, Laszlo the Miracle Dog will make an appearance.
Like Forgotten Felines, the humane society is a nonprofit agency that does not receive state, local or federal funding.
This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Forgotten Felines of Richland County to hold CatWalk 5K fundraiser