Joyce Karst, ‘The Feral-Cat Lady’ |

Joyce Karst, ‘The Feral-Cat Lady’

We have in our community an incredible woman who has worked quietly in our back lots, neighborhoods and downtowns trapping and altering feral cats that live difficult lives in our open areas.

You may have seen a small woman with an old but serviceable car filled with feral-cat traps, carriers, food, newspaper and other trapper’s gear at various places in our area. A large part of the expense for this important community service work has been born by Joyce.

Joyce Karst moved to Nevada County in 2002 from Santa Clara County where she did this good work for more than 20 years. She has been responsible for improving the lives of more than 2,800 cats since she began her trapping career. In addition, Joyce has provided food for feral colonies for many years and has spent thousands of dollars in veterinary care for her feral charges.

Joyce has also been a dedicated volunteer at the county animal shelter — when it was run by the county and more recently by Sammie’s Friends. For many, many years she has cleaned cat cages and cared for the cats there for the sole purpose of doing what she can to make their lives better.

To the hundreds of folks in our community who know Joyce, I am sad to report that she will be moving from our area in a couple of weeks. She will be missed by many, and AnimalSave will be losing an incredible partner in its work to reduce the number of homeless animals entering our local shelters.

I know Joyce will be uncomfortable with this article. She has done this good work at great financial and physical expense to herself with no desire for recognition because she is one of those few people who is truly only about the animals.

As always, Joyce gives more credit to others than herself. She asked me to include the following goodbye:

“I would like to thank AnimalSave for its wonderful help with its Low-Cost Spay/ Neuter Clinic. The Clinic provides a low-cost way to reduce cat overpopulation through spay/neuter and has altered 9,000 animals in the past five years. I’d also like to thank them for taking in the dozens of abandoned homeless cats and kittens I came upon during the last 10 years and for bringing them to good health and finding good, safe homes for them. I have appreciated being associated with their fine, well run organization. They are the only large cat rescue in our area, and we need them to succeed.

I have worked hard and long here for 10 years with no monetary pay but much satisfaction knowing I have made a difference for many thousands of cats and their caretakers by improving the quality of life for all with spay/neuter. Many of these caretakers were so overwhelmed with too many cats, and now with their cats altered, all are more at ease.

Sammie’s Friends helped with some of the cost along with AnimalSave. Without its financial help, I may not have been able to spay/neuter the 1,200 plus cats I have trapped over the past 10 years.

I would like to thank the very talented Dr. Strolle and staff of Best Friends Animal Clinic for taking such good care of my own cats. His insight, knowledge, patience and good humor with me is much appreciated.

Other local veterinarians also have contributed to the well-being of my precious cats. They are Dr. Susan Smith, Dr. Denny Nolet, Dr. Nancy MacFarland, Dr. Mimi Vishoot, Dr. Susan Murphy and many others. I will miss my kitty buddies and wish you all well.” — Joyce Karst.

Let our going-away gift to Joyce Karst be our commitment to continue her good work by making sure our own pets are spayed/neutered early. Kitten season will be here soon. Please help prevent the huge number of kittens we see every year by being part of the solution to pet overpopulation. With the abundance of excellent veterinary clinics in our area, low-cost spay/neuter clinics like Auburn Spay and Neuter and AnimalSave and the availability of spay/neuter vouchers from Sammie’s Friends, there is no reason not to do your part. Please pass this important message on to your neighbors and friends.

In honor of Joyce Karst, AnimalSave will offer an additional discount on our low-cost spay/neuter fees for cats from March 13 through April 12. Contact the Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic at 530-477-1706 for an appointment or contact

Carolyn Niehaus is the executive director of AnimalSave in Grass Valley.

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