Most people probably associate the New Nodaway Humane Society in Maryville with stray dogs. But the society's shelter on South Depot Street also serves as a temporary home for nearly 100 cats, most of whom spend much of the day and all night cooped up in small cages.
That's no way for freedom-loving cats to live, says society volunteer Diane Houston, who wants to provide shelter cats with a little more room to roam by installing three or four new "cat cottages."
Constructed of welded wire, the cottages are 10 feet long, five feet wide and six feet high, big enough to hold nine or ten domestic felines along with an an assortment of cushions, old chairs, toys, scratching posts, dens and climbing towers.
The shelter already has one cat cottage, which was donated, Houston said. Several more of the large cages are needed, especially for the no-kill facility's population of "senior cats," some of whom have spent most of their lives in a space only two or three feet square.
"We want to get more cats out of the the small cages where they can have a better quality of life," Houston said. "Physically and psychologically it's so much better for them."
Cat cottages are easier on shelter staff, too, she said, since cleaning one litter box for every 10 cats takes a lot less time than scooping out one box per cat for 80 or so cats.
"Unfortunately all our cats don't get adopted," Houston said, "so they need something a little more comfortable to live in."
Purchased commercially, cat cottages cost around $350 each. But Houston said the shelter hopes to save money by buying materials and assembling the cages using volunteer labor.
The society has already initiated a fundraising campaign called Ask 2 For Our Cat Cottages. The idea is that donors will write a check to the society to help pay for the project then ask two other people to do so as well.
Recommended donation levels are $25, $50 and $75, but Houston emphasized that gifts in any amount, small or large, will be gratefully accepted. Donations of $100 or more are good for a free logo T-shirt courtesy of the Humane Society.
In addition to the wire-mesh cottages, Houston is hoping the campaign will also attract enough donations to construct a 10-foot by 10-foot glass sunroom on the west side of the shelter where cats can lounge and play on clear days.
As with the cottages, Houston is hopeful the society can cut costs by purchasing materials then enlisting volunteers to build and install the new room.
In addition to the Ask 2 campaign, Houston said the society is also seeking a major donor willing to provide a match for smaller gifts.
No overall goal has been set, but funding both the cat cottages and the sun room will likely cost a few thousand dollars, she said.