Pets • Goal is helping families find cats and kittens that are a good fit and boosting adoptions.
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A lanky kitten named Moustache makes the rounds, clutching and nibbling at a socked toe, leaping at a dangled feather toy, then taking a break at the very center of the Lamoreaux family.
It's as if he's been here forever. But this truth is, 10-year-old twins Luke and Lincoln Lamoreaux spotted him a few weeks ago at the grand opening of the Kitty City wing of the Humane Society of Utah.
"We weren't going there to adopt anything," said Krystal Lamoreaux. "But when we saw him with the twins…This one stole our hearts, didn't he?"
It's this sort of story the Humane Society is hoping for with the recent makeover of its cat shelter.
Since Kitty City opened on Aug. 25, adoptions have jumped 25 percent. Moustache was one of 70 cats adopted the first day.
"It's already working," said shelter spokesman Carl Arky. "The cats are living in a much better environment. They feel good. They look good. We know it's been successful."
Following the cat shelter's $1 million-plus revamp, Arky now finds himself simply watching others enjoy the experience of getting to know adoptable cats in their comfy new digs dubbed townhouses, condos and villas, some fitted with "kitty kiosks."
The idea is to offer a place for adoptive families to put adoptable felines through their paces: lounging, pouncing, cuddling and hanging out with their buddies.
The shelter, which takes in about 5,000 cats a year, has traditionally found homes for just 70 percent of them. Arky says the idea is to step up that average by providing an optimal experience for everyone involved.
Kitty City offers natural light, fresh air, room to stretch and play and cushioned seats all aimed at improving the experience for humans and felines alike. Not only are there toy mice, but video screens run a continuous loop of mice, birds and fish in action.
"I like to watch the cats," said Arky, "but I also like to watch the interaction between the people and the cats. People get a better idea of their personality."
Meanwhile, the old cat area at the shelter was smelly and cramped, with institutional, steel cages for just 70 cats. The new facility can comfortably house 200. And other shelter operators have visited to learn more about the concept for their own facilities.
Lincoln and Luke visited all the rooms at Kitty City and had the opportunity to meet dozens of cats and kittens. But they came back to the black-and-white 4-month-old who seemed as fascinated with them as they were with him.
Now Moustache has settled in, he sometimes joins them playing video games and they all laugh it off when he pushes the button that shuts it down. He's already become a cherished part of the family.
"He's a crackup," said Krystal Lamoreaux.
"To me," said Bryan Lamoreaux, reflecting on his family's experience at Kitty City, "the facilities they have helped a lot. It was like a little trial run."
The wait is over, Rover
The Humane Society of Utah is already looking over plans for renovating the dog portion of the shelter, thanks to a $1 million donation by Robert and Teresa Kay of Vernal and others. A grand opening is planned for next spring.
Meanwhile, adoption hours at the shelter are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday though Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.