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Manitou Springs Happy Cats Haven getting new home, topped with 'catified' apartments

December 25, 2017 Updated: December 26, 2017 at 6:14 am
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A rendering of Happy Cats Haven's soon-to-be location at 327 Manitou Avenue. The adoption service will move next year to the new building, which is now being renovated. Photo courtesy of Happy Cats Haven.

A local cat adoption service is getting a new home in Manitou Springs.

Happy Cats Haven will move next year to a larger site at 327 Manitou Ave., where it hopes to take in twice as many homeless kitties, said Executive Director Sara Ferguson.

The building will be topped with two feline-friendly apartments, likely to be rented out to cat-owning volunteers, with built-in ledges and boxes for the resident pets to explore, Ferguson said.

The bigger space in Manitou cost $275,000, but it will come as a relief to the few staff members and dozens of volunteers. Although cats have ample space in double-decker cages and large colony enclosures at the current center, at 1412 S. 21st St., people running the shelter work in close quarters.

The bathroom is stuffed with scrubs for volunteers, and the laundry room is stacked with blankets, towels, spare litter boxes and bins and bags of cat food. A small office has become a temporary home for Odin, an orange tabby recovering from abuse.

"You can look around and see why we need it," she said. "We've completely outgrown this space. We're maxed as far as the cats we can take in and the care that we can give them with the space that we have."

Happy Cats Haven houses about 30 cats at a time and provides foster homes for 50 to 60 more, Ferguson said. With the extra 1,000 square feet, she said, the new center could accommodate about 70 cats at a time.

The organization has to turn down 20 to 30 cats a week because it lacks space and foster families. It only euthanizes animals that are gravely ill or have serious behavioral issues - though it has yet to put down a cat for the latter reason, she said. When the haven is full, it refers cat cases to Teller County Regional Animal Shelter, Wild Blue and Look What the Cat Brought In animal rescues.

The new center will triple the cage space and add several colonies, some of which will have attached, screened-in outdoor "catios" so their furry tenants have plenty of fresh air. Felines also will roam freely in the lobby, Ferguson said.

In addition, the center will have expanded laundry facilities, a medical wing for administering basic care, and a break room and outdoor garden for staff and volunteers.

Ferguson and her husband bought the vacant Manitou Avenue building in 2013. It has been a fun house, archery range and, most recently, a production facility for a local retailer.

Crews began renovating and expanding the building's first floor and adding a second in September. The grand opening at the new location will be in June.

Ferguson said she and her husband are paying to build both one-bedroom apartments, which will be on the south side of the second story.

"There's a double standard out there, and we would like to offer this to people who are perfectly good pet guardians and renters that often can't find a place to live because they have cats," Ferguson said. "We see it all the time at the shelter: They have to give up their cats because they can't afford to pay the fees."

The center's renovation is expected to cost about $375,000, and Happy Cats Haven has raised more than $137,000. To donate, visit www.coloradogives.org/planethappycat.

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Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108

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