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William Paterson University's Official Student-Run Newspaper

The Beacon

Mary Linn Lombardo: Mystery Cat Lady

Mary Linn Lombardo: Mystery Cat Lady

Many organizations contribute to the culture of William Paterson University, but there is one person that is often overlooked and misunderstood, and it is the mysterious workings of the cat lady and her feline army.  


You might catch a glimpse of her in the woods, the sound of a bell ringing through the night as she summons her loyal feline troop. 


The mystery Cat Lady is not an intruder nor is she mysterious. Her name is Mary Linn Lombardo, and she serves not only the community’s cat residents but also the students of William Paterson.


Only Kindness Rescue was initially for dogs in the Wayne area in 2006 but found a much greater need for cats.


“Cats are served less and (are) more easily discarded,” she said. “Cats are often looked down on which causes people to not want to be the solution. That is why it is important to teach the younger generation because they are the future.” 


The Rescue initiative has become a part of WPU in 2020. As part of it, WPU students feed the community cats daily. This program not only feeds the cats but also ensures they are neutered and vaccinated, addressing the issue of feline overpopulation in the area. 


“Cats are just domestic animals trained to survive in the wild,” Lombardo said. “When you give them care and a routine, it gives them security and confidence, now they don’t have to fight over territory for their kittens, or scrabble for food.”  


The program has expanded more and more each semester, going from two to four students in the beginning to now thirty student volunteers for this semester alone. This initiative doesn’t solely serve cats, students have reportedly gained close bonds with the community cats and have learned a lot from the experience.     


Kamberly Valle, a student volunteer for over three semesters, has seen changes in WPU’s community.


“Before this program, people would mistreat the cats, but now students respect them, and the cats reciprocate,” she said.  


Shelsea Tavarez, a student volunteer who recently joined: “This is the highlight of my week.”


Lombardo finds satisfaction in the positive outcomes that both the cats and students can gain from the program, firmly believing that it extends beyond merely providing food to cats.


“This program also enriches the student’s own lives. Stray cats are so looked down on, but this teaches students to have an open mind to any situation to find creative and effective solutions,” Lombardo said.


If you are interested in volunteering, please reach out to Only Kindness Rescue by sending an email to [email protected].


Additionally, for those looking to contribute to the cause through donations, further details can be found at

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