Who We Are
The Lake Norman Lucky Cat Program, otherwise known as "Lucky Cats," is a tax-exempt 501c3 non-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to saving and improving the welfare of unowned feral community cats. This commitment can be found in everything we do—from advocacy and education to TNR.
In 1998 Abigail Jennings contacted local authorities for help managing a colony of nineteen feral cats behind her business in Cornelius, NC. When she was told animal control would trap and remove them, she also learned they would likely be euthanized since they were feral and unadoptable, so Jennings tried a different approach.
Through establishing partnerships with local veterinarians, she provided TNR (trap-neuter-return) for the cats and handled the situation herself. However, word spread in the community, and Jennings soon began facilitating these services for others. These services became known as the Lake Norman Lucky Cat Program, as Jennings believed every cat they could spay/neuter and care for was truly a Lucky Cat.
The grassroots service continued to grow, serving the four counties surrounding Lake Norman, and received its non-profit status in 2004. It continued to be further bolstered through the partnership of Robin Byrd. Byrd had also been utilizing TNR to help individuals in the community and when Byrd and Jennings connected, they knew together they could take the organization even further. Byrd became the group’s Executive Director, and since then, Jennings and Byrd have assisted with facilitating TNR education and services throughout the region, helping thousands of community cats, and preventing unwanted kittens exponentially in the tens of thousands.
In 2018, their service took a geographical leap when a dire situation was brought to their attention in Kinston, NC. This community did not have access to TNRM services and had an overwhelming population of feral cats that were breeding out of control. “We had been told there were around 150 cats living in mostly abandoned properties in a high-poverty area that needed TNR. We decided to cover the spay/neuter costs for those 150 cats and provided a local volunteer group that could be organized and has permission granted from their animal control,” said Jennings. They began networking to find a local leader in Kinston to lead the efforts. Kim Williams was the individual selected to lead the efforts. Williams was the perfect mix of an animal lover, a past board member of the Lenoir County SPCA, and a natural organizer. They received permission to proceed and since then have provided TNR to over 1500 cats in the Lenoir County region, becoming a model example of TNRM success. As a direct result of the Kinston outreach achievement, Lucky Cats is assisting other communities in replicating their success.
2020's COVID-19 pandemic brought new challenges to the community cat world, as veterinarian services became scarce and the economic impact from the loss of jobs, illness, and abandonment of cats have contributed to creating kitten explosions within community cat colonies. However, through the ongoing commitment of volunteers and supporters, Lucky Cats continues its mission to better the lives of community cats, one Lucky Cat at a time.