I was first introduced to Blue Bell Foundation for Cats in 2018 through Gail Landau, founder of Catmosphere Laguna Foundation and Pamela Knudsen aka Cat Lady in the Canyon, one of Blue Bell’s board members. A few months later, in February 2019, I attended Blue Bell’s Luncheon Fundraiser, just a month before we opened Club Cat. My goal was to get more involved after Club Cat was up and running. And then Covid hit exactly one year later at our first anniversary. Like so many goals, that important one was put on hold while I focused on keeping Club Cat in business.

Fast forward to October 2022. My (then) 83-year old mom and I attended Blue Bell’s first luncheon since Covid hit. As luck would have it, I was seated at the same table as Blue Bell’s Executive Director, Susan Hamil. Regrettably, it took me over a year to get back in touch with Susan but I finally did a few months ago. Susan and her Assistant Director, Jenna Mikula, gave me a tour of Blue Bell and a few weeks later, they visited Club Cat. Both of these women have already inspired me in so many ways, not least of which is their dedication to aging felines!

I’m so very pleased to announce that Blue Bell Foundation for Cats is one of the two incredible cat-focused, nonprofit organizations that Club Cat is now partnered with. (The other is Catmosphere Laguna Foundation!).

I hope that after reading more about Blue Bell you will consider getting involved with this charity. And minimally, consider your own beloved cat’s future. I know I have.

Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Jenna and Honey at work

Please meet Jenna Mikula, Assistant Director for Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Shana: Blue Bell focuses on bequeathed senior kitties. What is the best part of taking care of senior cats? The hardest part?

Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Blue Bell cats lounging

Jenna: The best part is getting to know each of the cats and watching their personalities come out once they get comfortable. For some of them this happens quickly, maybe just a few days or 2-3 weeks. But for others it can take several months for them to be fully adjusted, so we spend a lot of time working through that with them. Personally, I get attached to them. I tell people that I have 40 cats but they don’t all live with me! The hardest part is knowing that your time with them is limited and that you will have to say goodbye much sooner than you wish. I’ve been here a little over four years, and more than 40 cats have passed away during that time. It never gets easier, but knowing when it’s time for them to cross Rainbow Bridge is part of giving them the best possible care.

Shana: Blue Bell prioritizes cats whose parents have made plans in advance for their cats to be bequeathed to Blue Bell. Is it common to receive calls from grieving family members trying to figure out what to do with kitties left behind whose cat parents did not plan ahead?

Jenna: Yes, we get several inquiries a week from family or friends trying to find a home for their deceased loved one’s cat. Sometimes the cat can be placed at Blue Bell, but most of them cannot due to the cat’s age or the owner’s estate situation. Part of our mission is to educate pet owners on making a plan that works for their situation. Don’t just assume your family or friends will care for your cat, or will figure something out.

Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Walks with Jambo

Shana: You have a very solid background in business and finance. How did you come to take the leap into working in a management role at Blue Bell?

Jenna: I spent 10 years in a successful corporate career in various finance roles, but I just never really loved what I was doing. It got to a point where I was very unhappy, and my wonderful husband, Mario, said “Why don’t you just quit?” So I did! I was volunteering on a native plant restoration project in Laguna Canyon when someone told me about Blue Bell. I had never heard of something like it and was intrigued. I have been a cat guardian for over 25 years so I had to find out more about it. Susan gave me a tour. I handed her my volunteer application that day. After about a month of volunteering, a caregiver position became available and our Cat Care Coordinator, Joyce, offered me the job. I truly love the cats and our mission so the more time I spent at Blue Bell, the more invested I became. After about two years, I talked with Susan and let her know that I would be very interested if she was ever looking for someone to help run and manage Blue Bell. I felt like there was just this amazing opportunity and I had to at least ask if it was possible. Turns out that it was! I started working at Blue Bell in the spring of 2019 and in late 2021 was promoted to Assistant Director. A lot of my role is improvisational, I’m learning as I go and just work through whatever arises each day. My business background has been a tremendous asset. But I also went through an 18 month Veterinary Assistant program and interned at Canyon Animal Hospital for 6 months to deepen my veterinary knowledge. I feel incredibly lucky and I am so grateful to be a part of this unique organization.

Shana: The Story of Blue Bell: A Virtual Tour of Time and Space is a wonderful glimpse into the heart and evolution of Blue Bell. If Bertha Yergat, Blue Bells’ founder who created Blue Bell over 30 years ago came back to visit for a day, what would she say?

Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Tiger helping behind the scenes

Jenna: I never met Bertha, but from what Susan has told me about her I can imagine that she would be proud of how we have sustained and nurtured her vision. I think she would be delighted by the transformation of the gardens and the cottage renovations. I think she would enjoy the cats and appreciate the wonderful people who work and volunteer here. I think she would be amazed at the advances in veterinary medicine and all that we are able to do for the cats that live here. And I also think she would have a heck of a lot of opinions on everything and wouldn’t be shy about sharing them!

Shana: Blue Bell’s volunteers range in age and backgrounds but they are a critical part of its infrastructure. Tell us about Blue Bell’s volunteer program and some ways cat lovers can get involved.

Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Halloween party!

Jenna: The main responsibility of our volunteers is to be cat companions. All of the cats that live here came from homes where they were very well loved and most of them enjoy human interaction and attention. The volunteers essentially serve primarily as kitty moms and dads, helping us to create the homelike environment that is so unique to Blue Bell. Volunteers need to be at least 18 years old and commit to a two hour shift either weekly or bi-weekly. We also require completion of a volunteer application and volunteer orientation for applicants that are accepted. Anyone interested in volunteering can email me.

Shana: Nobody wants to think about dying but we all will one day. We just don’t know when. Is it ever too soon to actively look into legacy care for their kitties?

Jenna: The short answer is no. When you become a cat guardian, you make a commitment to care for that being for the rest of its life. You never know what will happen to you and if you don’t have a plan for your feline companion(s), they can end up in some very sad situations. Creating a plan for legacy care at any age gives you peace of mind and ensures that your cat has a safe place to go if you are no longer able to care for him/her.

Shana: Tell us a a funny kitty anecdote or two or three?

Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Bella after her drink

Jenna: It’s so hard to pick just one because all of our cats have unique personalities and some have really quirky behaviors. A few of my favorites:

We had a tuxedo cat named Bella who loved to drink from the faucet. I know many cats prefer running water, but Bella would not drink directly from the stream. She would dip her paw in the running water and then lick the water off her paw. She was one of our “office assistants” for many years and would do this in the kitchen for volunteers and visitors. Her trick made everyone smile.


Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Indy has a customer

Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Gideon waiting for a customer

We had an orange tabby named Cody who was the sweetest cat you ever met. He loved people, other cats and food. Cody was chunky and he would not eat outof a bowl like most cats. Instead he would sit next to the bowl and scoop some of the food out with his paw onto the floor and then eat it.

Blue Bell is currently home to two cats who enjoy styling hair. Indy will stare at you lovingly before placing his paws on your shoulders and grooming your head. Gideon has become so famous for his styling that we made a little “salon” area for him. He will sit on the mantle waiting for his “customers” to sit in the bench below and then proceed with the head grooming.

For more information about Blue Bell Foundation for Cats, visit their website or email Jenna.


Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Gideon with his customer

Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Bunk buddies

Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Pet parade

Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

The interns

Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Staff meeting

Club Cat | Meet the humans behind Blue Bell Foundation for Cats!

Sawdust Winter Fantasy