Cats have more room to roam at the Animal Protective Foundation with the opening of the Burton & Violet Delack Feline Care Center.
The recent addition added approximately 360 square feet to the facility and reconfigured the space to include an evaluation room and a cat adoption room.
Those new rooms, combined with APF’s other rooms dedicated to kittens and another to adult cats make up the Feline Care Center.
Blowfish, a brown and black tortoiseshell cat, was using the new platforms in the adoption rooms to his advantage when the Gazette visited APF last week. Curious, she hopped from platform to platform before coming to greet Nancy Benz, the senior development director, at the door.
The young cat was recently transferred to APF from The Heart of the Catskills Humane Society along with two other cats that were also in the adoption room: Georgette and Zinger. Together they took up residence in one of windowed "cabanas" of the adoption room.
There are three other cabanas in the adoption room, each with enough space to allow potential adopters to come in and get to know the cat.
Across from Blowfish, Zinger and Georgette sat Spade, a black cat who enjoys playing hide and seek with visitors. He was brought to APF several months ago with a broken leg.
"They thought they might have to amputate but they were able to save his leg," Benz said. From his perch in the adoption room, the only signal that his leg was injured is the shaved down fur.
Next to Spade, a ginger cat named Bronson enjoys sitting high up on a platform and basking in the natural light.
Each cabana in the adoption room is equipped with toys, perches, bedding, food/water and a litter box. One thing that's missing is the smell of the litter box or the musty smell that can sometimes arise when several animals are in the same room.
"The other really great thing about this room and the evaluation room is that the airflow is [taking] the air and putting it outside so it's not recycled air," Benz said.
According to facilities manager Chris Morgan, the air gets exchanged 12 times per hour, which helps to cut down on the transmission of germs.
That's especially important in the evaluation room, where cats might need more medical attention. Some are on rabies virus watch and others are simply being evaluated for behavioral issues before getting cleared for adoption. The cats are placed in large mobile cages and each has a porthole so they can jump from one section of the cage to another. Sunlight comes into the room thanks to a sweeping window and the sound of birds plays from a laptop.
It's not just about the new space, it's also about supporting APF’s philosophy.
"All of it is part of this fear-free training," Benz said.
APF strives to make the cat’s time at the facility as stress-free as possible.
“Happy pets means a quicker adoption,” Benz said.
To do that, they find ways to keep the animals engaged, whether it's through play or socialization. They also try to find ways to make the animals most comfortable during medical examinations, sometimes by doing the evaluations in a space that they're familiar with. APF employees tell potential adopters about this perspective too, in the hopes of ensuring that the animal gets settled into its new home easily.
"The Center features cage-free living quarters for cats and a light-filled evaluation room. Both are designed to reduce stress, improve socialization and help the cats become ready for adoption more quickly," said executive director Deb Balliet in a statement.
The Feline Care Center is named in honor of the Delacks, the late Schenectady couple who made a sizable gift to APF, specifically for improving the health and welfare of cats and kittens.
The couple’s financial gift was matched by the GE Foundation Matching Gifts Program.
For more info on APF and the Center, visit animalprotective.org.