Lisa McKenzie, shelter manager of Maumee Valley Save-A-Pet, in the recently opened Kitty Cabana attached to the facility in Toledo.
The cats at Maumee Valley Save-A-Pet have a new reason to purr.
Thanks to a gift from longtime shelter supporter Steve Serchuk, his wife, Nancy Delikat, and the Midwest Happy Tails Animal Fund, the felines now can enjoy the sunshine and fresh air in the Kitty Cabana — a safe, completely enclosed 400-square-foot space.
The structure, which includes many climbing areas for cats and benches for cats and humans to hang out together, cost about $5,000. It was designed and built by Robert J. Zeigler, a Waterville carpenter and contractor who has constructed several similar cat enclosures at private residences, including the Serchuk-Delikat home.
"We wanted to see that the cats in their care have more space and places to climb, get more exercise, and have a chance to be ‘outside' in a fully enclosed and protected environment," Mr. Serchuk said. "We support the shelter's philosophy not to keep cats in cages. We believe that cats that socialize and interact with other cats, dogs, and people are more readily adoptable."
On a recent sunny day, a dozen cats and several small dogs lounged in the enclosure. Shelter manager Lisa McKenzie said several of the cats sit at the door every morning, waiting for an employee to open the access to the cabana.
"Victoria is a fixture out here," said Ms. McKenzie, pointing to a calico tabby female who reclined with her eyes half closed, soaking up the sun.
Cats snooze in the sunshine in the Kitty Cabana. The structure's many climbing areas for cats have made it a feline favorite, and humans can sit on benches. The area had been a patio for shelter workers, who can still use the space.
The cats are ushered inside each evening, and the door to the cabana is locked to help keep the shelter secure and deter any animal predators who might try to get into the area at night.
"It's hard to get them inside at the end of the day," Ms. McKenzie said. "They enjoy it so much out here. It really stimulates them and helps keep their stress level down."
Some cats who had been anxious now seem much calmer with access to an outdoorlike space.
Jetta, a smoky black cat, used to be high strung, but having access to the cabana has "leveled her out," Ms. McKenzie said.
Another cat used to be very afraid and hid frequently inside, but now is coming out of her shell.
The area was an outdoor deck that employees used for taking breaks. Now they get to take breaks surrounded by cats, which isn't always easy if one is trying to eat lunch, Ms. McKenzie said with a laugh.
The nonprofit shelter, at 5250 Hilltop Ave., has about 70 cats and nine dogs looking for homes.
During September the shelter is offering a $10 special adoption price for black, white, black and white, and black tortoiseshell cats as part of a Back to School special.
The group also has an upcoming fund-raiser, Amazin' Grazin,' a dinner and auction Oct. 12 from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Pinnacle in Maumee, Tickets are $35 for one or $60 for two.
A table of eight can be purchased for $240.
More information on adopting or volunteering is available at 419-537-9663.
Contact Tanya Irwin at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6066.