New Digs for Cats

Eau Claire Humane Association upgrades its feline facilities

Sammy Gibbons

The Eau Claire County Humane Association recently remodeled the hangout area for the 15 cats that it currently fosters. A local foundation funded the extreme makeover, which was completed in March, with an $8,000 grant. The space, known as the cat colony room, includes new flooring, sanitizable furniture, and various activities for the felines. Two glass atriums have also been added to create an area for kittens and mothers with litters of newborns to spend their time.

“The room lets more of their natural behaviors come out,” said ECCHA assistant director and volunteer coordinator Karen Rabideaux. “For our potential adopters coming in, they get a closer connection with the cats and really get to know their personalities while being able to visit with them in a free-range environment.”

The room is now much healthier for the animals – a cleaner ventilation system has been installed, blankets and similar items have been replaced with products that are easier to clean, and a large window exposes the animals to a decent amount of light.

The shelter also allows each cat to have its own space in what is known as the cat condo room. The space has plexes that each hold nine “condos.” It is a small space for each cat to rest and enjoy its food and water; like humans, cats need some good, quality alone time after a busy day in the colony room. Some cats are permanently kept in this room; some may not get along with the other critters, they may not be spayed or neutered (a requirement to enter the elite club of the colony room), or they may be recovering from an upper respiratory infection – what Rabideaux referred to as a “little kitty cold.”

When visitors enter the ECCHA, the first thing they see is the cat colony room and a dozen or so happy cats frolicking about. Rabideaux says the shelter hopes highlighting the cats in this way will increase adoption rates.

“Studies and research shows that adoptions increase and length of shelter stay decreases because of the fact that adopters are getting to know the personalities of the cats, and know that those are the choices we're offering,” Rabideaux said. “In some sense, less is more, because the less you have on the adoption board, the higher the adoption rates are.”

Cat adoptions spiked during the month of June, which is nationally recognized as Adopt-a-Cat Month. To celebrate, adoption fees for cats at the ECCHA are half their usual price. This lower payment comes with what is always included in the package: Cats come with updated vaccinations, are spayed or neutered, receive flea treatment, and are given a new collar and tags.

Even though June is almost over, animal-loving readers should remember that there’s no bad time to go and adopt a new furry friend.