Semmelroth and her sister, Robin, have an organization, Flat Iron Wildcats, that has provided medical care and fostering for feral cats in the Fishtown and Kensington neighborhoods, as well as a trap-neuter-and-release program. The operation is only semi-active at this point, the Semmelroths say; as it happens, Ming’s ad can still be seen on Flat Iron’s website, where he’s described as “our suave-as-suede handsome-as-Humphrey Bogart miracle of a man.” After describing his handicap, it notes that, “however,” he is “one sweet chill fun handsome man who is searching for a forever home where he can be safe and happy. Ming likes a few minutes of cuddle time but mostly just wants to hang out, relax and people watch.”
The Semmelroths now call themselves “semi-retired” from their work at the Flat Iron Wildcats; they no longer do fostering, except on very rare occasions, and instead hold one fundraiser each year at Philadelphia Brewing Company to continue a limited amount of work. Once you start an animal-based organization, it’s hard to quit, Laura Semmelroth says, because so few people want to take responsibility for wild urban animals. Today, she estimates, there are thousands of feral cat colonies just in the Fishtown/Kensington/Port Richmond area, which looks like a pretty good bet: The Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia reported nearly 20,000 animals passing through city organizations in 2013 and re-entering the community either through adoption or neuter-and-release.
Given how Ming has to work overtime to get around, his spine has inevitably curved with life—perhaps all the more considering how outgoing he is. Louise takes extra precautions with him, she says. The owner who, at one time, resisted thinking of herself as such, has taken to something she never thought she would: letting him on the furniture. “I let him scratch the chair and come up on the couch,” Louise says. “I never let my cats do this in the past, but it’s the only time his spine is straight. So I do a little physical therapy with him every day. He found the right nurse.”
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