Homeless cats hit the 'kitty lottery' by getting into Vancouver shelter

KATU's Lincoln Graves gets a tour of Furry Friends in Vancouver, Washington from spokesperson Diane Stevens. (KATU Photo)

There’s no shortage of animal lovers in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area. There’s also no shortage of animal shelters working to find homes for pets in need.

Diane Stevens is the spokesperson for one of those shelters.

“It’s like hitting the kitty lottery for a cat to get in here,” said Stevens of the feline-only shelter Furry Friends. “We don’t accept many cats. There’s a long waiting list to get in here.”

Furry Friends can seem like some kind of Airbnb for cats to first-time visitors. It’s housed in a nondescript home in Vancouver. Stevens calls it a "halfway house" for cats.

“We make a commitment to them for their lifetime,” said Stevens. “It’s something that larger shelters sometimes can’t provide.”

The house can only accommodate 25 to 30 cats at a time. It’s partitioned room by room to keep cats separated. However, if all cats get along, they can all interact with one another. There are plenty of beds, play areas, and other luxuries to keep it from feeling like a crowded animal shelter.

“The larger shelters have to deal with taking in all cats,” said Stevens. “They may have to deal with a thousand or two thousand cats in any given year.”

The shelter looks after 50 to 60 cats at a time but many of those are housed in foster homes, rather than the shelter itself.

Furry Friends is a nonprofit staffed by volunteers and funded entirely by donations. Funds raised go toward upkeep of the house as well as veterinary care for the cats. Medical care costs can rise quickly because of the kinds of cats who come to Furry Friends. Many have medical issues.

“Nova has a little bit of a head tilt,” Stevens said as she showed off a white cat housed in the shelter. “He had a bad reaction to some anesthesia when he had some teeth work done. He has this tilt, and he’s a little wobbly walking but other than that, he’s just fine.”

Stevens says the shelter is looking to make upgrades to the house, including a new sidewalk and driveway, but they’re relying on donations to cover the cost. The group is holding its 9th annual fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 30. For tickets, information on attending, or to simply make a donation, head to its website at furryfriendswa.org.

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