Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center’s New Catio Offers Feline Friends Outdoor Space

An anonymous donation of $70,000 went towards the creation and construction of the Cat Patio, which allows cats to enjoy the outdoors while fenced in and safe.


Cats housed at the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center now have their own “catio” to spend their days relaxing.

Previously, cats spent their time indoors with their companions in cages. Now they have the option of sitting in an enclosed outdoor space when visiting potential adopters.

The catio – short for cat patio – officially opened on October 29 after three months of construction. The Friends of the Animal Center Foundation received an anonymous donation of $70,000 to fund the outdoor space.

The project cost $70,372 and was built by The Henley Group. According to the project description, the patio includes a steel trellis that wraps around the space, a cat door, several hanging wooden benches, and cat toys.

Stephanie Koehler, executive director of the Friends of the Animal Center Foundation, said the organization, which was founded in 1999, supports the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center.

The biggest project the foundation and the center collaborated on was when the center moved into a new building in 2015, Koehler said.

“It was our biggest project to make sure the animals had a really nice facility specifically for the animals and to keep them healthy and happy,” she said.

The foundation raises money for the center in a variety of ways, including sending letters, creating online fundraisers, and planning events. These donations are often used to ensure the animals have access to medical care, she said.

“I believe last year we’re about 80 to 85 percent funded by individuals,” Koehler said. “So almost all of our money is just from people in the community and businesses in the community, and we get some grant money and then some event money – of course – and merchandise, but most of it is individuals from the community”.

Koehler said the foundation had no idea the donation to the catio was done in advance. The anonymous donor approached the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center to request that a catio be built, and the center contacted the foundation.

“The animal shelter and the FACF, we met this donor and said, ‘Okay, what’s your idea? What’s your plan? What do you want ?’ said Koehler. “And then we just had to bring it to town and get the building approved and start construction.

Iowa City Civil Engineer Marri VanDyke said she helped facilitate the design process and ensured the catio would match the steel of the center building.

VanDyke, who usually works on road construction projects, said the catio project was a change of pace.

“It’s really good for the cats to enrich their time, their environment while they’re at the shelter, but I think it’s good for visitors to be able to get out and meet the cats and get to know the animals. that they may be looking to adopt,” VanDyke said.

VanDyke said the catio is an asset to the center.

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Koehler said adding the catio helps the center come full circle because the original location of the old animal center had a catio.

She said the center missed having a catio, but the foundation was focusing its funding more on issues like medical care for animals.

“When someone comes along and brings in extra money for a project like that, it’s so nice to be able to do that,” Koehler said.

Koehler said donations from the Iowa City community help the foundation give the center the support it sometimes needs.

“I always tell people it’s important to donate to animals because we’re literally depending on you. The animals are counting on you guys,” she said. “…You have to be able to make the choice if you want to spend money on animals, and luckily we have community members who care and support animals,” he said. she declared.

The catio has already garnered attention in the week and a half it has been open, said Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center reception coordinator Shannon McBride.

“We always do everything by appointment, but we had a big catio opening last week, and a lot of people were there for it,” McBride said. “It attracted people just to check it out.”

McBride said she’s worked at the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center for four years and feels the cats already have a better environment because of catio.

“[The cats] getting not just interaction with people, but interaction with the outside. But they can’t get out, so that’s pretty awesome,” McBride said. “It helps them explore. This gives them more space to play.

The catio will be an addition the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center will treasure for years to come, she said.

“It’ll be awesome, and it’s really well done, so it’s going to last a long time,” McBride said. “I think if anything, we’ll keep adding more.”

Benjamin M. Yerger