Formerly no fan of felines, Jackie Borjan helps make them safer

Jackie Borjan admits it freely, even though nowadays she volunteers at a store that supports feral breeds.

"I used to be a cat hater, because cats kill birds," said Borjan from behind the counter of Pick of the Litter, the thrift and gift shop that generates most of the income for Forgotten Felines.

Borjan is one of 28 volunteers and 12 paid staff members at the Santa Rosa store on Piner Avenue, which for 14 years has been pivotal in helping to pay for spaying, neutering and caring for feral cats, as well as adopting them out.

The store's growth and success has enabled the nonprofit agency to go from fixing 100 cats per year when it first launched to more than 2,100 cats in 2012.

Initially, Forgotten Felines operated out of someone's spare bedroom. Today, it has a clinic and administrative offices on Empire Industrial Court, off Coffey Lane, where the organization also parks its mobile spay and neutering van.

"We raise half-a-million dollars a year here," Jennifer Kirchner, executive director of Forgotten Felines, said of the thrift store. "It's our No. 1 fundraising source. It allows us to do what we do."

Pick of the Litter recently increased from 5,000 square feet to 8,500 square feet after expanding into a neighboring space formerly occupied by a smog shop.

Donated items come into the back of the warehouse, where they are sorted, cleaned and readied for sale in the adjacent retail space.

There is also a room where a few adult cats can be seen lounging in the afternoon sun, all available for adoption.

Pick of the Litter prides itself on offering above average items for sale, made possible by generosity of donors who sometimes give gold and diamond jewelry and even collectible art.

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