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Former restaurant building will house homeless felines

| Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, 6:49 p.m.
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This property in Donegal Township has been donated to Cat’s Twilight, a nonprofit organization that places abandoned cats in foster homes until they can be permanently placed.
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Cat’s Twilight logo
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The late Margaret Raphael, shown in this photograph with her dog, Reggie, loved animals.

New places to scratch and nap are in the works for cats living in temporary homes through a small Southwest Greensburg-based rescue operation.

A former restaurant building donated to Cat's Twilight by a local foundation is being renovated to accommodate as many as 60 felines in need of permanent homes, said Jasen Lentz, president and co-founder of the nonprofit rescue.

“We have a vision of how we want the building to look inside,” he said.

Cat's Twilight houses 20 to 25 cats between Lentz's Southwest Greensburg home and the Monroeville home of Amy Lentz, the organization's vice president and co-founder. The divorced couple fosters the rescued cats in their homes and takes care of medical and socialization needs.

Many of the fostered cats — either found as strays or surrendered by owners — are eventually adopted.

But because the operation does not have a traditional shelter, the felines have to be taken to area pet stores in an effort to find them homes, Jasen Lentz said.

“We're somewhat limited to 20 to 25 cats now,” Lentz said. “We have cats of our own as well.”

The cage-free, shelter-to-be along Route 711 in Donegal Township will offer much more room for cats to roam freely and will enable rescuers to extend their reach, Lentz said.

“We will be an actual shelter,” he said. “That building's going to be our headquarters as well.”

But it will take a lot of work and time before the shelter is officially in operation.

“Once we got in there, we noticed vandals had been through it,” Lentz said.

Skilled laborers are being sought by the nonprofit to help in repairing copper, propane and air-conditioning lines that have been cut. The plan is to remodel one large room into three smaller sections for cats of varying ages and to incorporate solar or wind energy, Lentz said.

The building was donated by the Margaret Raphael Foundation. It most recently housed Maggie's Mercantile, an organic vegan grocery store, deli, cafe and gift shop.

Margaret Raphael of Hunker was an animal rights donor and activist who co-founded, with her daughter, a sanctuary for abused, abandoned and neglected farm animals, according to her obituary. She died in December 2011 at age 63.

The foundation is in the early stages. Board member Margaret Stanley said that Raphael “loved animals and wanted to help them.”

“The donation of the building to Cat's Twilight is an appropriate gift of her property,” said Stanley, who was a close friend of Raphael's.

Rescuers hope the new home for Cat's Twilight will be open in eight months to a year.

“There's so much work,” Lentz said. “It all depends on how many donations and how many grants I can get for us.”

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.