News Local

Purr-fect new home

By Sara Carson, Orillia Packet & Times

Comfie Cat Shelter volunteers outside the non-profit organization's new location on 48 Front St. S. The shelter expects to open to the public and begin adopting out on Nov. 1.

Comfie Cat Shelter volunteers outside the non-profit organization's new location on 48 Front St. S. The shelter expects to open to the public and begin adopting out on Nov. 1.

After five years on the prowl, Orillia's Comfie Cat Shelter has found a home.

The non-profit group is cleaning out and repairing the over 125-year-old two-storey brick building at 48 Front St. S., with hopes of bringing all the cats in by the end of this month, says Barbara-Ellen MacLeod, founder and president of the Orillia Comfie Cat Shelter.

"It's exciting," MacLeod said on Wednesday. "Having a shelter shows that we're anchored in the community. It shows our service is needed."

Comfie Cat Shelter was founded in 2005 and since that time had been fostering cats out of volunteers' homes.

Located near a feral cat colony, the new location is ideal, MacLeod said.

"It's well-known. It's a busy area, lots of traffic for sure. It's a good area. It's an area where it's needed."

The no-kill shelter hopes to keep that homey feel for the cats.

"The whole idea is when you come in, it doesn't look like a shelter," MacLeod said. "The cats are going to be less stressed, less sickness."

Felines have three rooms upstairs where they can roam free. Cats up for adoption will be caged during the day, but will be free to wander the adoption room at night.

"It's a more natural environment, so it will be easier for them to transfer from the shelter into a home."

Comfie Cat Shelter is renting the home for a reduced rate of $750 a month.

"We are very fortunate that the lady who owns this place is an animal lover," MacLeod said. "She reduced the rent and everything. The lady has just been fabulous. This is a blessing."

The shelter must pay commercial property taxes along with the rent.

To cover the expenses, the shelter is looking for dedicated donators. The goal is to have 800 people donating $2 a month. This would bring in $19,200 each year.

"That will help cover the shelter costs. That will help us 100%," MacLeod said.

By Nov. 1, the building should be open to the public to start adopting cats.

The plan is to keep the shelter's maximum cat population at about 100, but the shelter has far fewer than that currently.

"We'll probably have about 16 here when we get everybody gathered up," MacLeod said.

Prior to moving the cats in, the entire building needs to be cleaned, the ceiling needs to be painted, a back porch will be installed and the plumbing will be repaired. Linoleum flooring will also be laid for the cats.

The building will be inspected by PetSmart and the shelter's own veterinarian.

"We didn't have to be inspected, we choose to," MacLeod said. "There is a standard we have to keep."

The veterinarian will also be regularly examining the cats.

The shelter will include a small shop selling collectibles, scarves, jewelry, paintings, "just to keep raising money," MacLeod said.

From this new location, Comfie Cat Shelter will continue to provide services to the public, such as free cat food for those who cannot afford their own.

The shelter is looking for volunteers to help run the new facility.

Comfie Cat Shelter and Georgian College are partners in Orillia's trap, neuter, vaccinate and return (TNVR) program.

Having a building will help Comfie Cat Shelter house the felines after surgery.

This year, 93 cats went through the TNVR program.

About 30 to 40 more should be done by the end of this year.

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