By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
IRINA Creaser, affectionately known as “Irie the Cat Woman”, has dedicated her life to taking care of felines.
She not only takes care of stray cats but is also a volunteer groomer for the Bahamas Humane Society.
Having taken in about 60 cats over a two-year period, Ms Creaser is the founder of “Catatonic Cat Lovers” which has attracted some 900 members thus far. The journey for her has a span of some 40 years that started when she was a mere child.
“It all came about me being an actual cat breeder and a cat lover for the past 40 years,” the “Cat Woman” said. “I had my first cat when I was 11 years old and I’ve always been a cat lover.
“I started breeding Persian cats in The Bahamas since 1995 under the mentorship of Dr Basil Sands. He has been my closest friend and mentor. He taught me a lot about medicine and how to help cats and steer them in the right direction.”
Ms Creaser is a native of Germany. She moved to the United States at the age of 17. While living there she met and married her late husband who was an American. She came to The Bahamas in 1993 and is now a permanent resident.
“Because of my own cats, eventually I have donated my services starting at least ten years ago to Bahamas Humane Society as a professional groomer.
“So whenever they need cats or dogs to be washed or anything to do with grooming, I donate my services to help them. My name is listed so any adoption cat that comes from the Humane Society can come straight to me for a free bath,” she said. “I make sure that people enjoy kitties without fleas or anything. I weigh the cats, I take care of them and give people advice on pet care.”
It’s all about the cats for Ms Creaser who not only rescues and grooms them, but makes sure they are spayed and neutered.
“I rescue cats as well,” she said. “I do everything from taking in fosters from BHS and BAARK (Bahamas Alliance for Animal Rights and Kindness) that just don’t have space when they are going on flights to Canada or America. I take them in until they are ready to go. My name has kind of spread around to a lot of people who basically do not know what to do with their cats. They just show up at my doorstep.
“Any cat that shows up at my doorstep finds a home. Over the last two years I’ve picked up
and ‘rehomed’ at least 60 cats on my own. Dr Solomon on Carmichael does spay and neuter. He gives me a special there. I am a strong supporter of spay and neuter, trying to help to decrease the stray population in general.
“I often have people who are kind and leave me a small donation which I save up for people who cannot afford spay and neutering and I will actually pay for it.”
It takes a special kind of person to give their hearts totally to the care of fur babies and Ms Creaser is definitely one of those special people. Even though she cares for so many cats who eventually will be re-homed to other people, she has cats of her own.
“I have 15 Persian cats of my own,” Irie said. “Cats are my life. I live and breathe cats. The more people come and need me, the happier I am. The phone rings all day long. I have been trained enough to give some good advice. They ask me questions and I tell them what to look out for. I teach a lot of pet care. Lots of people are lacking the education on what cats really need.
“Cats are not just needing food and water. This is not a country that is very kind to animals in general and even less to cats. So it’s really important that we understand what cats need and how to read the mannerism of cats to find out what the cat needs to live a happy and long life.”
Ms Creaser gave The Tribune a first-hand account of her passion.
“A cat can live comfortably for up to 17 years, but that’s if they live mostly indoors,” she said. “If they are outdoors, it shortens their lives tremendously up to five years. I breed Persian cats, but I am not your everyday kind of breeder because I don’t believe in breeding for income. My cats are truly a passion, not an income.
“I believe with different breeds come different personalities and just like some people love a rambunctious short-haired kitty that is very energetic, there are also some people that like a more passive cat. There are certain cats who are just laid back which would be ideal for easy going people.”