Cats Crossing began as a private foundation in 1997, when Darcy Swope became aware of the large numbers of of animals (more cats than dogs) that were being a euthanized at shelters because they did not have space, or the animals were older or disabled and were deemed  "unadoptable."

The title, "Cats Crossing", was chosen because the cats served by Swope literally “cross” from impending death to a a second chance at Life...and a joyous, fulfilling one!

In 2006, over 70,717 cats and kittens were put to death a in Virginia shelters.

Ten years after founding Cats Crossing (and having given a second chance to a total of over 200 cats), in 2007 Swope and her family of 50+ cats moved from the bustling, fast-growing suburbs outside of Washington, DC, to a home in the tranquil countryside of western Loudoun County, VA, where they all enjoy quiet, freedom, space and relaxation.

With the change in location, Swope retired early from an illustrious 31-year career as an artist-teacher to pursue her lifelong dream of establishing a creativity-based art school for challenged individuals of all ages, integrating it with her continuing care for cats-in-need.

She teamed with a fellow artist, Trent Carbaugh, who restored an 1810 cabin on the property for use as a studio and teaching space. The IRS granted Birds of a Feather School and it's program, Cats Crossing, 501(c)3 status in 2009. For more information, visit

History/About the Founder

In our experience, there is no such thing as a "typical" day for any cat. While they are predictable in their requirement for clean water and food at specific times of day and in certain locations, they are like humans in having very different personalities ~ ones that change according to variations in weather, noise, other animals, stress, fear, danger and everything else.

As much as possible, the sanctuary tries to keep changes to a minimum. Our environment is a quiet one, set on a private, gravel road that few travel. The cats live together freely in the house and yard with the artists. Every cat is special, and they are given all they need to live out their natural lives in peace within a loving environment.

In their house, you find cats in baskets, draped across couch arms and pillows, sleeping together in all 3 bedrooms, while others choose private spaces on the closet floor in a cat bed or amongst books on a shelf. The cats needs and wishes come first! Some residents prefer the "outdoor life", safe inside outdoor enclosures, (right) but are always welcome in the house (via cat flaps in several windows.)

Carbaugh built a unique, personalized, indoor litter box house(left) that Swope painted in her colorful, exuberant style. An unusual harmony has developed among the cats and their artist-guardians, and it can be felt throughout the house, studio and land.

A day in the life of a resident cat


Swope and Carbaugh delight in every opportunity to share the joy and therapeutic values of creating art with those who have disabilities, and at senior centers and retirement homes. When appropriate, a calm, loving cat accompanies them. At right, Mrs. D. is charmed by Hope, a blind kitty with the most wonderful purr and soft fur.

Please "contact us" if interested in learning more about the outreach programs.