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Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS): Capital Improvement Grant Report

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Our Petfinder Foundation Capital Improvement Grant was used to purchase new, state-of-the-art cat condos for our shelter facility, where we care for our most vulnerable rescued animals before they become available for adoption, including those who are suffering from injury or illness. Each condo in the improved cattery features proper space for stretching and lounging, a shelf for perching, separate food and litter-box spaces, and portals between cages for cats to socialize when appropriate. Our cats are already so much more comfortable!

Our improved cat condos offer many documented benefits for shelter cats. They reduce the cats' stress levels, which in turn keeps them healthier, as stress is a trigger for illness. They facilitate more thorough disinfecting by shelter staff, which limits the spread of disease. The added space each cat can enjoy also makes it easier for staff and volunteers to evaluate their behavior and personalities to make quality adoptive matches.

Matchmaking is at the heart of what we do, and a low-stress environment where cats’ true selves can emerge is key to making excellent, lifetime placements. When cats are moved from our main shelter to an adoption location, they arrive less stressed and more behaviorally balanced, setting them up for immediate success in greeting and connecting with adopters.

These improvements especially benefit some of the most vulnerable cat populations we save, including stressed and shy cats, giving them a chance to relax and adjust, as well as those who are non-social with other cats.

High-quality individual condo units enable us to safely accommodate cats with communicable conditions -- those whose lives depend on our capacity to rescue them -- while maximizing their quality of life during their stay with us. The units also act as temporary housing for healthy cats who are waiting for space to open at one of our adoption locations, ensuring a smooth flow of adoption-ready cats through our matchmaking program. Taken together, these factors result in reduced overall lengths of stay for the cats we rescue, enabling us to save more of those who need us.

How many pets did this grant help?

Almost every cat we rescue spends time in our main shelter’s general cat-housing room at some point, so these upgraded cat condos will improve the lives of at least 2,500 cats this year alone. We expect the condos to have a long life, housing tens of thousands of stray and surrendered cats as part of our mission to make Philadelphia a no-kill city.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Mushu (first photo) is a sweet senior cat whom we rescued from the city shelter in order to diagnose and treat his variety of medical issues. It was clear he had a long road ahead of him as we worked to find the cause of his stomach upset and emaciation.

Due to the extensive care and monitoring Mushu needs, including surgery to remove a mass in his stomach, his stay at the shelter has been much longer than most. The upgraded cat condos make a tremendous difference in his quality of life, giving him more room to stretch, move around, and comfortably rest. In addition, having a separate space for a full-sized litter box is vital to his well-being because of his chronic joint inflammation. Mushu is finally nearing the end of his treatment and recovery, and will find a forever home soon.

Cute and cuddly Thor (second photo) came to PAWS as a stray, and he stayed in our new cat condos while we attempted to reunite him with his owner. Although that reunion turned out not to be possible, Thor charmed us with his sweet disposition, and he quickly found a loving adopter.

Life on the street and in a shelter can be stressful for cats, so being able to offer them ample space to decompress and come out of their shells at their own pace is invaluable. It offers safety, security, and comfort to cats when they need it most, and allows our staff to see who they truly are as we work to match them with ideal forever homes.

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