Of the ten or so adult cats currently residing at YAPS, Oscar has been with us the longest. He was actually born here in July of 2015. In fact, a picture of him as a kitten can be seen on our website under the “View our cats” adoption page, so in a way you could say he’s become something of a mascot for us. If you’re lucky enough to see him in the common room, he’s pretty distinct among the other adult cats, striped gray and black fur on his top half and a cream-colored white on the bottom, and a coloration pattern around his nose that makes him look like he has the cat equivalent to a five o’clock shadow. He’s friendly with the other cats, occasionally nudging some of them as he makes his way from the outdoor area and up to the top of one of the furniture pieces in the common room where he can safely observe.
When I entered the cattery to meet him for the first time, several of the adult cats were eager for the introduction, some of them encircling my legs, some of them meowing their greetings. One of the other cats, Princess, even leapt up to the windowsill to be eye level with me and affectionately butted my outstretched hand repeatedly with her head. Somewhere in the midst of this flurry of activity is where Oscar had silently entered and climbed to his observation spot. Not wanting to make him nervous, I continued to pay attention to the other cats while slowly making my way over to him. Princess had decided that we were friendly enough that she had leapt to my shoulder and was vehemently rubbing her head against my neck and shoulder, not so subtly coaxing me with her adoption pitch. Eventually I was standing close enough to Oscar that I was able to reach out and pet him. He accepted the gesture, regarding my hand with mild annoyance, as though he was resigned to the fact that this was simply part of the shelter life. A few moments later, though, he had decided he’d already had enough, and jumped back down to the floor. He started to head outside, but changed his mind at the door and stayed there, looking back at me. He had already decided not to adopt me, but he remained curious nonetheless.
For people who are used to animal shelters, this experience may sound a bit different than a typical shelter environment. That’s because the cattery at YAPS is unique. In most shelters, cats and kittens are kept in cages, which are often cramped, with little room to move about and interact with each other or with people. In these types of environments, it can be difficult to discern the personalities of the animals or know if they would be a good match for you or your home. At YAPS, the cats are never kept in cages and are allowed to roam free in a dedicated indoor space, and they even have access to fresh air and sunshine through an enclosed outdoor patio. The cats are able to be themselves, and their personalities are allowed to shine through. They don’t have to appeal to your attention through the bars of a cage. YAPS is also a dedicated safe haven for them while they wait to be adopted, free to live without the fear of euthanasia, even if they are with us for as long as Oscar has been. For most shelters, that safety period is only five days. While many shelters actively seek to avoid euthanasia, it is still an unfortunate regular occurrence as a result of overcrowding. YAPS seeks to intervene and lighten this overflow burden when we can by rescuing animals from shelters, but our current capacity is constantly at the limit. We are, however, working on a solution.
For the past several months, YAPS has been planning the construction of a new cattery facility on our existing property. At about 800 square feet, this new facility will be about three times the size of the current cattery, and will increase our capacity limit by an equal margin. Much like the current cattery, the new facility will not have any cages and will have an even larger enclosed outdoor patio for the cats to wander and lay about in. There will also be several windows to allow for natural light exposure, and the facility will be fully heated and air conditioned. There will also be more room for visitors and potential adopters to be able to sit and observe or interact with the cats in an environment that is comfortable for both. A larger capacity will also hopefully mean being able to find loving forever homes for that many more animals on a yearly basis. Over the past twelve months, YAPS has facilitated the adoption of 245 cats. With a larger cattery and more animals, that number will doubtlessly rise as well.
Recently, we have been applying for grants to help us break ground on this project. So far, we have received donations from private donors and contributors, and we will continue seeking additional grant funding from various grantmakers in the region, as well as accepting contributions from private donors such as yourself. If you or someone you know would be interested in donating to this project as well, we would love to hear from you. Please feel to contact us at YAPS at (909) 790-1440. Every contribution makes a lasting impact. It is our hope that together with our generous supporters, this new facility will be a step toward our long term goal of making the Inland Empire a kill-free safe haven for all shelter animals.