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Animal Shelter volunteer builds ‘Catio’

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

Visitors to the Pulaski County Animal Shelter in Dublin will notice an unusual structure next to the building’s entryway. In this unique structure, known as a Catio, one will likely find several felines padding around the wooden boards set around the perimeter or playing with one of the toys inside.

Inside the shelter, cats that have been given all the necessary shots and that have been there for a while, are moved to a large containment cell across from the front office. This is known as the Cat Condo. As of now, cats residing in the Cat Condo can access the outdoors through an opening that gives them access to the newly constructed Catio.

The Catio was bought and built by Tim Pakledinaz, one of the volunteers who donates his time to the Pulaski County Animal Shelter.

“The cats in the Catio are adult cats, which are typically harder to adopt than kittens, so we move the adults up to get them a little more visibility to get them out of the shelter,” he explained. “The whole idea is to get these cats exposure to people when visitors come in the shelter. This way they have a better chance of being adopted out.”

Residents of the Catio seem to appreciate the new structure. “The cats have 24-hour access to go outside and hang out,” said Pakledinaz. “It’s my understanding that a few don’t want to come back inside. They’re enjoying it, that’s for sure.”

Pakledinaz is a musician/handyman who lives with his wife Cindy and their four dogs in Fairlawn. As one might expect, anyone who spends as much time at the shelter as Pakledinaz does has an appreciation for strays. “Two of the dogs are from the shelter, the other two just kind of showed up. We live on a street in Fairlawn where people dump pets from time to time,” he said.

The couple keeps cats, too. “We’ve got three cats at home and then we have a foster that’s hanging around, too,” said Pakledinaz. “The people who own that trailer park told the management to get rid of the cats. So, I went and got that cat out of there with the notion of finding her a home some place, which hasn’t happened yet. So right now she’s at my house.”

At the top of the Catio there can be seen a colorful painting of cats that adds to the charm of this outdoor cat playhouse. The painting was produced and donated to the shelter by Ken Pease, a local artist and animal lover. It’s another added feature to a uniqueness of the Catio.

“Actually, there are people pulling up to look at it to interact with the cats,” said Pakledinaz. “We’re hoping it makes the place a little more of a destination for people who want to spend a little bit of time and hang out with the cats.”

It seems that the Catio may provide some unexpected benefit to employees and volunteers at the Pulaski County Animal Shelter.

“Everybody who works there at Animal Control is remarking on how therapeutic it is for them to just come out and watch those cats do their thing because it’s a tough business for those people to be in,” said Pakledinaz. “You’ve got to make some hard calls sometimes, so when they come out sometimes they get a little positive lift from just seeing the cats playing around outside.”

Pakledinaz estimates that he spent about $500 of his own money to build the Catio but is confident that he will be reimbursed for the expenses. There is also a need for more toys, cat trees and scratching posts to fill the Catio. Monetary donations can be sent to Tim’s Catio, c/o Pulaski County Animal Shelter.

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