By Janet McAfee
Carol Brandel’s close friend, Kim Rose, reminisces about the woman who worked tirelessly to help the Coachella Valley’s homeless community cats. “Our Valley lost an animal angel when Carol Brandel passed away. Carol was the best. She was a light in my life. She was volunteer of the year at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, and they plan to install a bench in her memory.” Tragically, Carol suffered a fatal heart attack on November 2, 2019, while feeding a colony of feral cats near the Indio Fairgrounds. She passed away while caring for the animals she so loved.
With a previous career in property management, Carol seemed to find her true calling working with cats. Carol joined a coalition of Coachella Valley cat trappers when she learned about the large number of suffering and starving feral cats. The group set traps at night in locations where strays are reported, returning in the morning to transport them to clinics for spaying, neutering, and vaccinating. Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) also involves bringing the cats back to their original location where their numbers stabilize after sterilization.
Carol was 110% involved in the TNR program. She trapped cats every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the clinics. She also felt an obligation to care for the animals after TNR. She fed at least 13 colonies twice daily, purchasing most of the food with her own money. Carol never missed a day feeding the cats, including holidays, often working until late at night. Now her colleagues have stepped up to continue feeding Carol’s colonies, ensuring the animals are well cared for.
Carol wisely believed helping animals often starts with developing good relationships with people. She got to know the people who lived on properties where the cats roamed. Carol would often bring meals to low income residents when she brought food for the nearby cats.
Carol left behind her two cats pictured here. Carol’s fellow animal lovers arranged for Zoey and Ronnie to go to a no-kill rescue, and they were happily adopted TOGETHER.
Local animal advocates recently met to develop a comprehensive TNR plan with Best Friends, as the Best Friends 3-year Community cat program winds down. Vet clinics at Animal Samaritans and the Palm Springs Animal Shelter continue to provide services to feral cats. If you want to help in this effort or donate cat food, call Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7000.
Thousands of stray homeless cats roam our Coachella Valley, and due to their unsocialized behavior, cannot be adopted if they end up in public shelters. You see them scurry through parking lots as they forage for food in trash cans, frequently forming colonies for companionship. The website for Alley Cat Allies, www.AlleyCat.org, contains a wealth of information about community cats.
Kim Rose believes that Carol’s legacy will be to “inspire others to carry on her passion, provide vet care, respect, and love for our community cats. She was one person making a difference, kind, generous, beautiful inside and out, hysterically funny, and fiercely loyal.” Beloved by people, savior to the cats she dearly loved, Carol Brandel exemplified the heart of rescue.