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Gift helps Humane Society help cats

| Thursday, May 16, 2013, 12:20 a.m.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Natalie Pergar, an intern at the Western PA Humane Society, paints the facility's Cat Adoption Room, Wednesday. The facilities at WPHS were renovated thanks to a $30,000 donation from Purina Cat Chow and 20 of its workers to help improve existing rooms and establish a “Cat Crisis Center” to aid cats with non life-threatening conditions.

The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society provides adoption servies for 7,000 cats a year.

Now the North Side shelter will be able to do even more, thanks to a “huge” gift from Purina Cat Chow, officials said on Wednesday.

“I have been waiting for this for 11 years,” said shelter spokeswoman Gretchen Fieser.

Purina Cat Chow officials donated about $30,000 to the shelter for upgrades to the cat adoption center and for the establishment of a Cat Crisis Center where shelter staff will care for felines too sick to be adopted.

The donation is part of a promotion marking Purina's 50th anniversary. The cat food maker donated money to a shelter in every state, then picked three shelters deserving of major renovations, said Vincent Biroscak, director of marketing for Purina Cat Chow.

Purina chose the North Side shelter because the Cat Crisis Center will improve countless feline lives, he said.

“That's what our customers ask for: Help make a difference in cat's lives,” Biroscak said as he and other volunteers painted walls in the updated adoption center on Western Avenue. “This shelter adopts out 7,000 cats a year, so they already have a huge impact on the community. With the renovations, they'll be able to adopt out 500 more a year.”

Shelters in Atlanta and Tacoma, Wash., also were selected for the larger prizes, Biroscak said.

The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society bought 24 new “cat condos” for the adoption floor, Fieser said. The old cages will be used in the Cat Crisis Center, located upstairs in a converted garage.

The upgrades are much needed for a shelter that has “several hundred” cats on site, plus more than 100 kittens with foster families, Fieser said.

The shelter always needs new foster family volunteers, she said.

“Being with a foster family is less stressful for the kittens,” she said. “There's a sense of calm and more one-on-one attention in a household with a person taking care of them as opposed to being in a shelter.”

Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or ctogneri@tribweb.com.

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