Pet Tales: Western Pa. Humane Society's cat room gets a boost from Purina

There were cats in many unlikely places at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society on Tuesday and Wednesday. Cats and kittens cuddled in the arms of staff and volunteers as they were moved to cages that lined hallways or into staff offices. Others were moved to foster homes.

It was a temporary inconvenience for permanent improvement as 20 employees from Purina Cat Chow traveled from St. Louis, Atlanta, Austin, New York and Columbus, Ohio, to make the North Side shelter a better place for felines waiting to be adopted.

The Purina people came with $30,000.

The Humane Society is one of the big winners in the Purina Cat Chow "50 Years, 50 Shelters" program. To celebrate the company's 50th anniversary, it is donating up to $200,000 to 50 shelters -- one in each state. Only three are getting $30,000 cat facility make-overs.

Aided by five local volunteers, the folks from Purina covered the old pale yellow paint in the Cat Adoption Area with cheery bright blue and added new flooring, doors and deluxe cages that include little hiding areas for cats that enjoy an occasional private, quiet escape from scrutiny.

They spruced up the cat colony room where shelter cats romp and play, and another small room where potential adopters meet cats. They created a mural with green-eyed cats painted in hues of blue, orange and yellow.

"It's sort of like an old-fashioned barn raising," said Gretchen Fieser, the shelter's director of public relations and marketing. The plan called for the cats to be back in their usual spaces by Wednesday night.

What the staff is most excited about is something the public will never see -- a new Cat Crisis Center. It's a kind of "sick bay" where cats and kittens will be treated, especially for contagious diseases, mostly the upper respiratory ailments that felines are prone to get.

Purina converted a storage area and provided medical equipment and supplies, plumbing, work tables, cabinet, lighting, litter pans and a mobile oxygen unit. A new ventilation system will exchange the air more frequently, Ms. Fieser said.

The Cat Crisis Center will more than double the current quarantine area, which has 17 cages.

Purina was impressed that the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society has been in business since 1874, said Vincent Biroscak, Purina Cat Chow director of marketing. The request for a Cat Crisis Center that will save lives also stood out from the list of applicants, he said.

The shelter can get even more money from Purina if cat lovers go to Pick Pennsylvania from the drop-down box to vote, which you can do once a day. Purina will donate $1 for each vote, up to $1,000. As of Wednesday, WPHS had 94 votes.

Rockin' for animals

The performance by Styx, REO Speedwagon and Ted Nugent on Sunday night at First Niagara Pavilion will include a guitar raffle to benefit Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center in Larimer and victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Tickets for the autographed guitar are $10 and will be sold when the gates open at 6 p.m. until the 7 p.m. start of the concert. The winner will be announced at the end of the show.Rock to the Rescue is Styx's nonprofit charity organization.

At the dog wash

Love the smell of a clean dog but hate the bathing process? Get it done for $10 at the Summer Charity Dog Wash Series 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday through Sept. 28 at Animal Nature, 7610 Forbes Ave., Regent Square (15221).

The series starts today when the beneficiary is Rabbit Wranglers. Others include May 25 and Aug. 24 for Hello Bully, June 1 for Animal Rescue League, June 15 for Animal Friends, June 22 for Homeless Cat Management Team, June 29 for Three Rivers Small Animal Rescue, Aug. 17 for Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, Sept. 7 for Animal Advocates and Sept. 14 for Three Rivers Rat Lovers.

Birds in flight

"Talons!" is the new show featuring birds of prey at the National Aviary, 700 Arch St., North Side (15212).

The show opens next Saturday and it will run at noon and 2:30 p.m. daily at the Helen M. Schmidt FliteZone Theater. The indoor theater features lighting, video and sets, but the real stars are live birds that soar and fly. In this show, look for the Eurasian eagle-owl, Lanner falcon and hooded vultures. Admission is $5.

Pet portraits

Get a professional pet photographic portrait while helping the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society in the second annual Food for Fido event. On June 15, Nicole Begley Photography is doing 15-minute photography sessions to produce a 5- by 7-inch print of your choice. The fee is a large bag of food for the shelter and $35, part of which goes to the shelter. Registration is required. You can do that at or call 724-766-6103. The sessions will be held in Pine.

Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-263-3064. Got a pet health question? Email it to It may be answered in an upcoming Pet Points column by veterinarians at the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic.