Furkids, the largest no-kill, cage-free shelter in Georgia with hundreds of cats and volunteers, received a 'cat-o-miniums' wall cubby from The Beck Group as a donation to the homeless cat shelter.
"Beck has certainly helped because the cats have fun, little structures to sleep in and navigate through," said said Samantha Shelton, who started Furkids nine years ago when she found a family of cats in her backyard.
The project started in April when Beck project engineer Jesse Plata was trying to decide which local animal shelter to donate to as their community service activity, which they do every year. "One of the things that brought us to them was that they're a no-kill, nonprofit animal shelter," Plata said of the Norcross-based homeless shelter.
Plata met with Shelton, who expressed the shelter's needs, particularly that cats didn't really have spaces to hide or to be by themselves. Plata and his crew of 15 then created the blueprints for the live/work/play 'cat-o-miniums,' consisting of large cubbies for cats to be more active and open while still viewing the outside, and there are also small boxes for seclusion and sleep, if they wish.
The project was completed all in the month of April, also with the help of Royal Custom Cabinets, which completed the fabrication and cut the boards, and also Sherwin Williams, which donated the paint.
One additional feature that the Beck group was able to add to the shelter is new flooring. The flooring, a Forbo brand installed by CSC Flooring in Atlanta, is made of environmentally friendly material that is also urine-resistant.
Belinda Kach, the volunteer manager at Furkids, noted that the new flooring brightens up the room, is easier to clean and is softer for the cats than the painted gray concrete that was there before.
"We would love to do this in all the rooms, but we don't have the funds for it," said Kach. The flooring was only added to three adjoining rooms of the shelter, and the cat condos were added to one room. Adding the flooring and cubbies to the rest of the shelter would be costly since it has 11 rooms total, in addition to its quarantine (for cats that are new to the shelter and have not yet been tested and neutered), surgery and isolation rooms.
As a nonprofit that houses, neuters and cares for hundreds of cats at a time, there's no doubt that the shelter needs help financially. Shelton said that much of their operating funds comes from donations online and also through their new thrift store, located at 4015 Holcomb Bridge Road in Peachtree Corners. They also receive funds from a silent auction at their annual birthday party, which is Saturday, June 18, at Maggiano's in Buckhead.
Even though it may be hard work to keep up with operating the shelter, the thrift store and partnering with retail shops at seven different Petco and PetSmart locations in the metro Atlanta area, Shelton never forgets the importance of it all.
"I’m just not the type of person that would turn my back on anything," she said. After noting that over 400 cats and dogs are euthanized every day in the state of Georgia, Shelton said, "as taxpayers, we pay for that. There's got to be another way."
And while she can't house every cat in the state of Georgia, she tries to get as many as possible. Shelton said that she drove to Gilmer County in April to retrieve 19 cats from their shelter after it sent out an email saying that no rescue groups have come to pick up any animals in the past three years, which caused their kill rate to be 100 percent.
That's why Shelton is a strong believer in neutering, because there just aren't enough homes for all of the cats. One way the shelter copes with the overpopulation is having the shelter's part-time veterinarian, Dr. Melvin Gordon, DVM, neuter all of the cats that enter Furkids.
While many kittens in the shelter find a home within eight weeks, Shelton said that the adult cats take anywhere from a six months to a year or possibly longer. The shelter also has around 20 active foster homes for cats, kittens and even dogs, which are not housed in the Norcross backroom.
“Ocassionally you’ll get someone that comes in, and they say ‘I want to adopt the cat that’s been here the longest,’” she said, but it doesn't happen often enough.
Still, Shelton goes on to say that her goal one day is to have a stand-alone building for Furkids that will have a open outdoor area for the animals and a low-cost spay and neuter clinic open to the public. Shelton notes that it would be costly to build, but she hopes that The Beck Group will be back to help them design their renovations when it does happen.
If interested in donating, adopting or volunteering at Furkids, visit their website at www.furkids.org. Tickets are also available for their birthday party at Maggianos on June 18, also available for purchase for $50 through their website.