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Cat ‘condos’ promote adoptions

October 30, 2012

Napa Valley

Rui Bastos-Amaro didn’t mince words. “I’m not a cat person,” he said.

But this attitude did not represent the rest of the Bastos-Amaro family, who turned out Saturday to inspect the felines at Pet Food Express’ new Cat Adoption Center at Bel Aire Plaza.

Six-year-old Gabriel Bastos-Amaro and his two brothers, Tiago, 8, and Dominic, 4, waved excitedly at the smorgasbord of cats on display behind glass, while their mom, Danaya, tried to keep the boys quiet.

Watching his family light up in the presence of a potential house pet, Rui Bastos-Amaro noted that one of his sons had been “bothering me for a cat forever.” This son is “a super cat person,” he said.

A few hours later, Bastos-Amaro and his family went home to St. Helena not with one cat, but two — Tom, a 3-year-old indoor cat, and Pepe Le Pew, a kitten, whom one of the boys renamed Simba.

Saturday was the grand opening of Napa County Animal Shelter’s first Cat Adoption Center. Pet Food Express spent close to $200,000 to remodel the Napa store to accommodate the new center with input from Napa Humane and Napa County Animal Shelter representatives, according to Pet Food Express. The Napa adoption center is the pet supply company’s fifth.

“I’m happy about the results,” said Michael Levy, founder and CEO of Pet Food Express, who came to the grand opening with Winston, a rescued French bulldog.

The Cat Adoption Center features 12 custom-made cages — vertical “condominiums” with glass fronts so the public can see the cats and kittens during the store’s business hours.

The center also has a “meet-and-greet” room where potential adoptive families can comfortably meet felines up for adoption. Volunteers from the Animal Shelter will be on hand from 3-6 p.m. daily to answer questions and hand out adoption forms.

At Saturday’s grand opening, a dozen kittens and cats waited for new homes.

Kristen Loomer, manager of the county shelter where about 1,000 animals are cared for annually, said the new Cat Adoption Center will spur adoptions. The only expense to the shelter is the cost of gas to transport the animals to the store, she noted.

Volunteer Susan Bell said she hopes the center’s north Napa location will encourage more people who live close by to volunteer for the shelter and encourage more families to adopt animals.

“Pet Food Express came to Napa Humane three years ago, just after completing their first pilot (Cat Adoption Center) project, to begin the planning for one in their Napa store,” said Jane Albert, executive director at Napa Humane. “We facilitated the relationship between Pet Food Express (and the shelter) to ensure that homeless cats and kittens from Napa Valley would be featured,” she said.

“We also worked with (Pet Food Express) on the design” of the adoption center and cat habitats, “building on experience from their previous four centers,” she said in an email.

More than 650 cats have been adopted from the company’s Walnut Creek center since 2010. Pet Food Express, which operates more than 40 stores in California, is working on yet another new Cat Adoption Center at its location on Lombard Street in San Francisco, Levy said.

On Saturday, Tom and Simba were quietly adjusting to their new life with the Bastos-Amaro family. “They’re lounging and relaxing,” Danaya Bastos-Amaro reported.


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