Cattery construction completed, fundraising for equipment ongoing

Construction on the cattery addition at the Great Falls Animal Shelter is complete, but it will still be a few months before it’s completely finished with final touches, equipment and the new cat condos.

The shelter is still fundraising to finish the project and purchase cat condos for the general cat area that will house 40-50 cats. Cat condos will also be added to the triage and quarantine rooms in the cattery for additional space.

Cattery expansion at city shelter nearing completion

The shelter held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the cattery to thank donors since the $463,185 construction project was funded entirely with donations.

Lynn Formell, shelter manager, said that it’s an estimated $40,000 for the cat condos and some money has already been raised toward triage tables, benches and other needed items to complete the project.

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She said they have temporary kennels they’ll be moving into the cattery to start using the space soon while they’re completing the other details.

Cattery project underway at city animal shelter

Formell said the shelter currently has about 100 cats and based on guidance from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, having better quality and well lit housing for animals helps them get adopted more quickly.

She said shelter staff expects that once the cats can be moved into the new cat condos in the new cattery, they’ll host a major adoption event to lower the cat numbers initially and then have quicker turnover of cats in the facility.

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The new cattery also has three private visitation rooms that allow people to spend quiet time with their potential new cat to interact with it and get to know it before making a decision. Before there wasn’t any quiet space for that kind of interaction, making it harder to people to know an animal before taking it home, Formell said.

The city purchases a new hyrdo-incinerator for cremating animals which takes up a fraction of the space the old incinerator took up, so that made room for two of the new visitation rooms.

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The $84,000 hyrdo-incierator was approved in the city’s 2017 budget and was purchased separately but was installed during the cattery construction. The device uses water to mimic the natural decomposition process and once installed, it will save the shelter at least an estimated $30,000 annually in operating costs since the incinerator usage cost will be reduced from $1.25 to $1.50 per pound for cremation down to 5 to 10 cents per pound.

The hydro-incinerator would also save the shelter about $2,300 in annual repair and maintenance costs, according to staff.

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The Great Falls shelter is the only facility in the region that provides any animal cremation service, which is used by local veterinarians and private citizens. The nearest is in Helena.

The Great Falls shelter is the only facility in the region that provides any animal cremation service, which is used by local veterinarians and private citizens.

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Cremation services make up at least $40,000 in annual revenue for the shelter, according to staff.

The new cattery has an entrance through the back of the shelter so cats can be kept separate from the dog area when they’re brought in by animal control or others and can go straight into the isolation area for a medical check before being placed in the general cat area.

“No more kitties having to walk the gauntlet of dogs,” Formell said.

The city broke ground on the cattery in September 2019 after Commissioners voted in May to approve the contract to Detailed Construction, after initially postponing it and then reversing course to bring it back for a vote that spring.