Blue Bell has a longstanding history in Laguna Beach, beginning as a boarding facility for cats in the 1960s by its founder Bertha Gray Yergat. Bertha, the quintessential cat lover, opened her home—the cottage that is the Blue Bell sanctuary today—to stray cats, cats of friends who could no longer care for them, and as a boarding facility for cats whose owners traveled. She was fiercely dedicated to felines and very particular about their care. Those who knew Bertha recall that she would reprimand any cat owner who would not send postcards to their cat under her care while such “negligent” owner was away. Bertha, getting up in age and with declining health and about 200 cats under her care, wanted to ensure that her legacy of cat caring would continue. In 1987, just a couple of years before she passed, Bertha established The Blue Bell Foundation for Cats, a nonprofit foundation, which she named after her favorite cat Blue Bell, who wore a blue bell on her collar.
Bertha’s exemplary standard for cat care set the tone for Blue Bell’s ongoing operation, which now provides permanent housing for senior cats whose companions can no longer care for them. Most of Blue Bell’s residents came to the Blue Bell retirement sanctuary because their human companion passed away or became too sick to care for their beloved cat (or cats). As funds allow, Blue Bell also assists local animal shelters by providing permanent housing for unadoptable senior cats. From the roots that Bertha planted, Blue Bell has blossomed into the first and only cat sanctuary of its kind in Orange County.
Blue Bell provides lifetime care for its feline residents in a home-like environment. Blue Bell residents have free rein throughout their cozy cage-free home located in a rustic neighborhood of Laguna Beach known as “Laguna Canyon.” Kitty bunk beds line the walls along with feline “family photos.” Residents enjoy plenty of perching places, toys and cat scratchers throughout the cottage. Three spacious enclosed patios, complete with fountains, cat trees, and view of the lush canyon and its inhabitants of birds, butterflies, squirrels and lizards provide cats with plenty of activity and tranquility. The Blue Bell retirement sanctuary includes a separate “special needs” facility for cats with particular medical conditions and in which new residents become acclimated to their new home. In addition to the comforts of home, residents receive top-quality veterinary care provided by Canyon Animal Hospital, conveniently located less than a mile up the road from Blue Bell. Blue Bell’s skilled cat care staff is responsible for monitoring behavior, medicating and feeding its residents. Volunteer cat cuddlers provide lots of affection and attention to the Blue Bell cats; the same kind of attention found in any cat lovers’ home!
While Blue Bell no longer offers boarding services and facilitates adoptions only in exceptional cases, Blue Bell provides a lifelong sanctuary to its feline residents with the kind of meticulous care and dedication that would make Bertha proud.
Blue Bell Cottage