The Panhandle Humane Society (PHS) has opened up its newest feature: a patio for cats, affectionately referred to as a catio.
The catio’s official groundbreaking ceremony took place on Monday, June 13. Amy Bartholomew, executive director, said the catio was a project six years in the making.
“(Former director) Cathy McDaniel had the vision to get a place where the cats could be outside … and get to listen to the birds and experience the outside without being loose,” she told the Star-Herald.
McDaniel raised donations from Fuel Services, the Scottsbluff High School Class of 1954, Bill James and Sanna Loukonen. She organized a fundraiser with Sam & Louie’s Italian restaurant. Bartholomew continued the project after McDaniel left PHS.
Other individuals and companies donated items and time to finish the catio. WR Whitney Excavating poured the concrete. Ken Bastron installed a window the cats can access the outdoors from. Robert Hatfield installed steps so cats can climb up and down from the window.
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Clint Verbeck volunteered to pick up supplies, taking just two weeks to finish construction. Rachel Jenkins donated a Kuranda cat tower for cats to play on. Mike Pelster of Mike’s Husker Stuff supplied plaques for the catio.
The catio was dedicated to Maxine Fox, who served as the PHS director for 19 years.
The window and steps allow any cat outside of their kennels to head outside if they choose to do so.
Cats waiting for adoption can explore or relax in a different environment on the catio. Listening to nature will keep their fear, anxiety and stress low, shelter staff say.
Bartholomew said they have water, toys, a litter box, and decorations like pinwheels to keep them content. She said she planted catnip in the catio as well.
Bartholomew said the catio can hold about five cats at once, and more will fit once additional elevated platforms are installed.
“We might have to do some encouragement to get them out there. So far we’ve only had one cat going out there on his own.”
The sounds of traffic might make the cats wary at first, she said, but they’ll get more used to an outside environment if they so choose. The catio will be a long-term staple at the humane society.