Rescue service just scratching the surface of cat problem

Alicia Quarles and Jodi Waits care for one of the felines rescued by Purry Paws Pet Rescue.


Purry Paws Rescue, Inc. is a non-profit feline rescue service that provides trap-neuter/spay-return services for Batesburg-Leesville (Lexington County only), Summit, Gilbert, Fairview, Red Bank, Irmo, Lexington, and West Columbia (outside the city limits).

Owned and operated by Jodi Waits, Purry Paws Rescue is located in Lexington, just across the street from the Gilbert town limits.

Waits explained that Purry Paws is primarily a trap-neuter-return group, but they also are a cat and kitten rescue. She and her assistant Alicia Quarles are dedicated to controlling the population of stray, free-roaming and feral cats through the implement of trap-neuter/spay-return. She said they help people identify populations of stray, free-roaming and feral cats, assist in trapping, and help secure low-cost or no-cost spay and neuter services.

Waits is no stranger when it comes to helping animals; she began rescuing ducklings as a child from a park near her home.

Purry Paws helps find resources of food donations to help feed colonies and take in cats and kittens as resources are available. They provide veterinary services to sick and injured animals and obtain vaccinations for healthy felines. Waits said that in addition, they socialize any of the cats they can and prepare them for adoption. They find adoptive homes for those animals that are fully vetted and properly socialized.

Waits and Quarles are committed to educating the public about the importance of spaying and neutering to control the cat population. Waits said that about 70 to 75 percent of the animals they trap come from the Batesburg-Leesville area.

Those that are trapped are taken to Jodi’s shop, where they are fed, watered, and kept overnight. They are then taken to Pawmetto Lifeline, where they are spayed or neutered, get all of their vaccinations and a tattoo on their belly or bottom to show they have been sterilized.

Waits said that what people don’t realize is that most of the cats in the community were once house cats. Somebody moved or somebody put them out. Most of them have not been sterilized causing the local feline population to grow.

“As far as cats that have been done from B-L since January, I count 400. That is just this year, and it’s an issue,” she said.

When Waits is badly bitten or scratched, she cleans the wounds and heads to the doctor for an antibiotic. The offending animal is caged for 10 days per South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) rules and regulations on rabies prevention. During that time frame, the cat is taken to Pawmetto Lifeline for sterilization and vaccinations. Once the 10 days are up, it is returned to its colony and released.

Purry Paws traps every day. If Waits is unable to go, Quarles takes over. Both are volunteers and are not reimbursed for their services. Their organization exists mostly out of their own pockets along with some donations.

“We are always looking for donations of cat food to feed the feral colonies,” Waits said. There is a volunteer feeder from Batesburg-Leesville who strictly feeds close to 200 feral cats in this community alone.

In 2017, Purry Paws Rescue spayed and neutered a total of 457 cats and kittens. By 2018, that number had grown to 613. Waits caught all of those by herself.

This year, with Alicia’s help, the two have trapped 779 cats and kittens. Waits said that right now they are slated to collect well over 1,100 feral cats for the year. These numbers do not reflect the animals that are in rescue. Between the two, they have a total of 120 kittens waiting for their “fur-ever” home.

Adoption fees are minimal and often do not cover the cost of raising, vetting, and adopting out a cat or kitten. No animal is adopted out until vetting is complete. This includes spay/neuter, all vaccinations including rabies (which is required by state law), and microchip when available.

Purry Paws has an adoption process whereby all prospective adopters must fill out an application with veterinary references (which are checked and verified) along with a home check made prior to adoption. These measures are taken to ensure that the cat or kitten is getting an appropriate, loving home.

An additional service provided by Purry Paws Rescue is helping people to construct housing for cats during inclement weather. There are several different types of housing, but their most popular are made from thick-walled Styrofoam coolers filled with straw. Straw does not mold when it is wet because it is hollow. Purry Paws recommends that the straw is changed a minimum of twice per year.

The cost for all these services is reasonable, but they tend to vary depending on whether or not the cat has major health concerns. Purry Paws Rescue does not euthanize healthy cats. They are a non-profit rescue and only have the health and well-being of the cats in mind.

Those interested in volunteering, donating, or in need of a quote on trap-neuter-return services may call 803-957-5639. Additional information can be found at

Story by Anna Long / Posted September 3, 2019