Ember didn’t seem like she was feeling well today. She wasn’t doing her normal routine of jumping down today from her perch next to a window at the Five Acres Animal Shelter in St. Charles. Instead, she took a more ambling route around the century-old farm house that’s been her home.
Still, there was food to eat, a litter box to partake and visitors to sniff as she ran her dark black head against the back of one of their hands. Not a bad day in the life of a cat that may be at least 20 years old. Eighteen of those years have been spent at Five Acres.
The visitors Ember was socializing with were at Five Acres on Dec. 17 for a groundbreaking ceremony for a new addition to the shelter that may allow more cats like Ember to live long lives.
The new addition, to be known at the Katy Favre Feline House, will be the home for the shelter’s cats and kittens once completed.
“Currently we have around 50 cats in the shelter or at foster homes,” said Becky Krueger, executive director for the shelter. “With this new building, we will be able to double that amount.”
The shelter, a nonprofit organization located at 1099 Pralle Lane, has been providing a home for abandoned and stray dogs and cats since 1973. It is the only ‘no-kill” shelter in St. Charles County, meaning its animals are not euthanized. Animals are available for adoption and live at the shelter if no home can be found.
The new building, which may be complete by this summer, provides a larger space for free-roaming cats and more “condos” for cats that prefer their own space. There will also be meet and greet rooms for potential adopters and an entire second floor for cats with feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV.
Krueger said many of these cats make good pets and live long lives. But cats that test positive with the two diseases are typically euthanized in public shelters. She said the shelter has to expect that many of the cats that test positive with the diseases would live their lives at Five Acres.
The new building also will have space on a lower level for a low-cost spay/neuter clinic to help low-income pet owners. Pets adopted from the shelter are automatically spayed and neutered.
The new addition also replaces an old farm house on the Five Acres property that has a leaky roof, poor ventilation, lack of space and a poor layout for cats. Dogs have their own facilities in another part of the shelter.
Typically the shelter can house about 115 animals. With the new addition, that number may reach 175 or more, Krueger said.
The new addition to Five Acres also may help in promoting the adoption of animals. The number of abandoned or stray animals is increasing as the county’s human population continues to rise, he said. Cats are not as readily adopted, Krueger said.
“People don’t typically adopt pets from shelters, but we want to change that, especially with this new building,” Krueger said “We just want to let people know that the cats at Five Acres are family pets, they are so sweet and deserving.”