In 2012, Akureyri local Ragnheiður Gunnarsdóttir, frustrated with the lack of temporary housing options for homeless cats in the area, founded cat shelter Kisukot in her own living room.
The idea occurred to her when coverage of the town’s animal-control hunting and euthanizing cats caught her eye.
“There it was revealed that the town hunted down cats up by the horse stable district of Akureyri, and had them euthanized. I wanted to see if I could do something else, rather than have the poor things put to sleep,” Ragnheiður told Morgunblaðið last week.
That same year she was named Northerner of the Year by Akureyri Vikublað, the local weekly.
She has since rescued and re-homed hundreds of cats.
A young feline family residing at Kisukot — Photo: Kisukot/Facebook
Ragnheiður is Kisukot’s sole employee, and she has relied on donations as well as her own savings to keep the shelter open. While she also works at pet store Dýraríkið, most of her free time goes towards caring for the cats.
Ideally, she would like to collaborate with the town of Akureyri on the initiative, but says her suggestions have been met with disinterest.
She has been unable to secure separate facilities for the shelter, and so continues to operate out of her own home.
“Summer is always most stressful. At the moment I have 16 kittens and 8 adult cats looking for homes. Kittens are usually very messy, so it’s a lot of work.”
A group of rescued brothers newly arrived at Kisukot and still a bit frightened — Photo: Kisukot/Facebook
Thankfully Ragnheiður’s veterinarian has supported her by giving her a hefty discount off of sterilizations, immunizations and other routine medical services the cats need.
Ragnheiður says it common for people to call her in search of a missing cat, despite the fact that she gets no information from the town’s animal-control nor from the police.
“Often times people don’t seem to have any idea that the town has a practicing department of animal control. Similarly people often call me instead of the police, even though collecting cats who have been run over is the police’s responsibility.”
She then emphasizes the importance of having cats both sterilized and microchipped. Too many healthy cats are put down each year because their owner cannot be found, as well as due to the over-abundance of kittens in need of homes.
“If animal control collects a collarless cat who isn’t microchipped, the owner has just two days to pick it up before the town is allowed to euthanize the cat. It doesn’t matter if the cat clearly has a home, this is just the law,” added Ragnheiður.
Þyrnirós (Icelandic for Sleeping Beauty), a Kisukot resident waiting to find her forever family — Photo: Kisukot/Facebook
Kisukot is kept running by donations. It’s also possible to join the organization behind the shelter for a small annual fee which goes towards operational costs.
Donations can be placed in the fundraising account 0162-26-001100, kt. 021286-3039.
When space runs out at Kisukot, locals can then also volunteer to foster cats temporarily. The shelter provides these foster-parents with cat food and litter boxes.
For further information, see the Kisukot Facebook Page.