BUTLER — Sam and Mimi are best friends, but complete opposites. While Sam is described as “sweet” and “outgoing,” Mimi is “shy,” but always by Sam's side.
Their bond is cute, but it could have made adoption impossible for these two if it weren't for a cage-free cat room that allowed potential adopters to see both of their personalities together.
Sam and Mimi are just two of many cats that were recently adopted as the result of a new space at the Butler Humane Society, said Ruth Leicht, who is on the BHS board of directors and was the main advocate for the project.
“We put them in the room and said they had to be adopted together,” Leicht said. “Someone came and adopted both of them from that room. If they were in the cages, I doubt that Sam and Mimi would have been adopted.”
Leicht said the new cat room has caused a noticeable difference in adoption rates.
“The cats that have gone in there ... so many of them have been adopted,” she said. “We're constantly trying to introduce new cats to the room because when people see the personality of the cat, they're being adopted so quickly. It's just phenomenal. Our goal is to get all the cats out there.”
The addition of a cage-free cat room enabled one of the rooms at the Humane Society to open up into a communal area. When people go in to adopt cats, they can see the cats' personalities and how they play or otherwise interact with each other. The space has toys, windows, climbing bridges, sleeping cubbies and even an exercise wheel to keep the future pets entertained.
Leicht said the project wouldn't have been possible without The Vein Institute of Pittsburgh, which donated the $5,000 needed to build the cat room.
“We had the idea for it, but we didn't have the money,” she said. “Because of their donation, we were able to make our dream come true.”
Amanda Beyer-Pulliam, The Vein Institute of Pittsburgh's office manager, said the institute wanted to fund the project because its owners, Dr. Terrance Krysinski and his wife, Kim, have always been animals lovers and wanted to help with the project when they heard about the cats.
“We came to them saying, 'We want to be active, and we want to give you what you need to improve things there,'” Beyer-Pulliam said. “We're sort of new to being donors to the Humane Society this year, but we're really excited to help them improve things. The cat room was just the start of it.”
Leicht said the institute also is interested in donating to build a second cat room and an upcoming renovation project to improve the backroom where cats are held when it isn't their turn to be rotated into the cage-free rooms.
“Our shelter has an old section and a new section, and the old section definitely needs a major remodeling for the cats,” Leicht said. “That will be more expensive, but they (Vein Institute) are interested in helping with that, too.”
Leicht said they are still looking at which improvements could be made for a second cage-free room before beginning construction since the first one is only a few months old. She said once they have figured out what they like and want to keep for the second model, work will begin on it.