Sorry for the delay in posting the finalists for our $1,000 Catification Shelter Makeover, but we had so many nominations it took extra time to go through them all! There are tons of great groups out there working hard to save cats, we wish we could help every single one of them. We received 654 nominations for 325 different shelters. Kathie over at The Vertical Cat meticulously went through each nomination and, after much consideration and research, selected the ten finalists below. Now it’s time for you to vote!

The shelter with the most votes will win $1,000 worth of cat climbing products from The Vertical Cat and a free phone consultation with the official “Catification Team” — The Cat Daddy himself, cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy, and yours truly, Kate Benjamin, Cat Style Expert and founder of Hauspanther.

But that’s not all! All the finalists will take home some awesome prizes including goodies from Auntie Em Creations,, The Vertical Cat, Hauspanther, Tiger Teasers, Plain Brown Tabby, and Stretch & Scratch. See the complete list of finalist prizes here.



Here are the ten finalists in our $1,000 Catification Shelter Makeover, in no particular order. Please read a little about each one of them and then scroll to the bottom and click the link to cast your vote!


Save The Animals Rescue Team II (S.T.A.R.T. II) – Englewood, NJ

Cat Count: Approximately 55 cats

Save The Animals Rescue Team, II (S.T.A.R.T. II) is a non-profit, no-kill animal rescue organization that barely survived hurricanes Irene and Sandy. They were founded in 1989 and are located in Bergen County, New Jersey. Twice a week they travel to the local pound to save as many adoptable animals as they can. Since their inception, they have rescued and placed over 7,000 dogs and cats.

S.T.A.R.T II “rescues, nurtures, and rehabilitates abused and unwanted animals taking them out of dire situations and give them a second chance at life in a forever home.” And their TNR program, now in its fifth year, works to trap, neuter and release over 500 feral cats annually. “S.T.A.R.T. II have never turned down a request for assistance from a person who cannot afford to pay to have their pet spayed or neutered. S.T.A.R.T. II’s goal is to eliminate the need for euthanasia.”

One of their fans said that after the hurricanes, “S.T.A.R.T. II’s shelter was in dire need of repair. Kind folks in the county donated their services at a significantly reduced cost, allowing S.T.A.R.T. II to build an addition to the existing shelter. The new room is a large cat room. The ultimate goal is to have a cage-free living space for the cats while they await adoption. Without worrying about space limitations with cages, S.T.A.R.T. II will be able to pull more at-risk cats from high-kill shelters. In addition, the cats awaiting adoption will be less stressed from being cage-free, and show better for potential adopters.”


Friends of Cats – El Cajon, CA

Cat Count: Around 300 cats

Friends of Cats is a no-kill shelter for cats located in El Cajon, California, that began in 1929. The shelter is “dedicated to providing shelter and medical care to abandoned cats and those whose owners are unable to care for them. Once their health is assured, we try to find them good homes. We do not euthanize, except as a matter of compassion if a cat is fatally ill or suffering. From newborn kittens to older resident cats living out their lives, as well as an ever-changing population of adoptable cats, the Shelter houses approximately 300 cats at any given time.”

Cats with “FIV, FELV, shy cats, kittens, and those those entrusted to us as Lifetime Care residents can be found throughout the property. We have made much progress, but we are still in great need of ongoing support to update the Shelter and continue providing the best care for our feline friends. “

Why do they need the $1,000 Catification Makeover? “We are actually in the middle of renovating our cat rooms and need help with catifying the rooms!”


Colony Cats (& Dogs) – Dublin, OH

Cat Count: 80 in the shelter, 250 in foster care

Colony Cats is an all-volunteer non-profit organization “whose primary mission is to address cat overpopulation in central Ohio through public awareness and spay/neuter efforts. Since 2002, our organization has facilitated spay/neuter of nearly 9,000 cats and dogs, and placed more than 6,500 pets in homes.” Through Colony Cats’ “humane, non-lethal programs, homeless cats can have the decent, healthy quality of life they deserve and better co-exist with their feline and human neighbors.”

They specialize in helping feral, stray and abandoned cats and provide TNR and other support services “including food, shelter, vaccines and additional vet care for injuries/illness, as well as educational resources.” They also have “a cage-free cat adoption center and a network of foster homes for friendly, adoptable cats and kittens (as well as dogs/puppies we encounter while assisting cats) that have been rescued.”

One of their fans says: “Our adoption center is in dire need of Catification! Many of our adoptables are adults who are with us longer than we’d like and they need a stimulating environment while they wait for their fur-ever home. The general wear and tear over time in addition to lack of funds to spruce up the place, leaves our adoption center looking pretty needy. It would be such a boost to a very worthy organization and to the volunteers to see such a transformation for our cats’ environment. I too would hope that after the project is completed, we’d have many folks coming in to check out your makeover and potentially boost adoptions so more of our wonderful cats could be placed into loving homes.”


Hobo Hotel for Cats, Inc. – Lake Charles, LA

Cat Count: 66 cats

The Hobo Hotel for Cats began in 1999 “with three women, a two-room travel trailer and some cats named Sweet Baby, Quinella, Hobo and Bouree. Two years later, they added an outside shelter for feral cats which was jokingly called ‘Hobo’s hotel.’”

The no-kill shelter’s mission is to bring about “the rescue and adoption of stray and abandoned cats and kittens, the promotion of spaying and neutering, and education about pet care. Key programs are: (1) a healthy and stimulating shelter environment for 50-75 cats and kittens; (2) foster care for young kittens and special needs cats; (3) low-cost spay and neuter options for those who qualify and for people who care for feral colonies; (4) Bouree’s Outreach, a TNR program; (5) public education and outreach; (6) an active TLC program at the shelter to ensure that resident cats get lots of attention, exercise, play and affection on a daily basis. Efforts have just begun to develop a special foster program – senior citizens fostering adult/senior cats. … Special needs cats are not denied admission and the shelter currently has six cats positive for leukemia or FIV and one cat who is blind.”

One of their fans says: “The building which houses the shelter was built in 2004 and has had no updating or remodeling since. The space is adequate if 50 cats are in residence, but starts to get crowded when the number approaches 70. Cats are “free roaming” in their respective rooms. … A room has been selected to be ‘catified’ and that is the Happy Room. It contains a large window, couch, three cat trees and a table. The makeover would (1) provide a greatly enhanced environment for the cats by increasing usable space and function, and increasing opportunities for exploration and exercise; (2) serve as a model to continue the design into other rooms; (3) serve as a model for outreach to other organizations and individuals who want to redesign their cat spaces; and (3) spark interest and enthusiasm in visitors and volunteers.”


Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County – Vero Beach, FL

Cat Count: 78 cats

The Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County, FL, Inc. began in 1953 and provides care “for homeless animals, placing adoptable pets in permanent and loving homes, promoting spaying and neutering of companion animals, promoting responsible pet ownership and the respect for all life through humane education, protecting animals from cruelty, pledging to be advocates for animal protection.”

The shelter never refuses “admission to any animal regardless of its species or condition. We operate a low cost animal wellness clinic and offer vet services to families whose pets have never been to a vet in an effort to keep animals in the homes that love them, rather than have them turned in to the Shelter due to an advanced medical condition or pregnancy that could have been prevented. We have a pet food bank that provides food, free of charge, to families forced to choose between feeding their children of feeding their pets due to temporary economic hardship. We partner with Meals on Wheels to bring pet food to senior shut ins who cannot get out to buy food for their animals. We investigate and, if necessary, prosecute all cases of animal cruelty in our county.”

Their Director of Development says: “About a year ago we began an experiment to leave our cat condo doors open in an attempt to encourage the animals to interact and become more social. Our animal behavior experts felt that this increased interaction with other animals would increase adoptions especially into homes that already had one or more cats. It worked! Our adoption rates went up by over 12% and our return rates dropped as well. Obviously, this was a benefit we could realize at no additional cost, but our desire is now to take this experiment even further by removing the cages altogether and converting it into a cat supercenter with climbing features, cat trees, hiding places and cozy retreats; all the things that cats love. A $1,000 cat room makeover would make this dream a reality and, we are convinced, dramatically increase our adoptions rates even further.”


Tree House Humane Society – Bucktown Branch – Chicago, IL

Cat Count: 55 cats in Bucktown. Total Tree House population – 200 cats

Tree House Humane Society is the largest cageless, no-kill shelter for injured, sick and abandoned cats in the Chicago area. In 2007, they added a second location in the Bucktown neighborhood. “We are committed to finding every healthy and treatable animal a home and to helping lead the way to a No-Kill nation.”

Since being founded in 1971, Tree House “has found homes for more than 16,000 ‘residents.’ In addition to our focus on the rehabilitation and adoption of stray cats, we offer many other valuable programs and services, including our Free Spay/Neuter Program, Pet Loss Grief Support Group, Humane Investigations Team, Youth Volunteer Program, Animal-Assisted Therapy, Behavior Hotline, Pet Food Pantry, and Education Outreach Program.” And Tree House has implemented a TNR program and become a leading sponsor for feral colony caretakers in Chicago and currently sponsors 150 colonies and more than 400 cats.

Their Tree House Bucktown Adoption Center Supervisor writes: “Our Bucktown Branch could use a vertical revamp so we can make better use of our blank wall space. If you think like a cat, its easy to look around and see how much more you have to work with if you have the right tools. Vertical height, as you probably know, is a HUGE advantage for kitties that like to climb or be up high, and the shelves from Vertical Cat, plus the insight of Jackson Galaxy (my favorite!!) and Kate could help us figure out how to better accommodate our many residents! Our adoption center is cage-free, and we have a regular rotation of new cats and kittens in the mix, so offering them perches and catwalks to navigate the areas along the walls higher up could be a great advantage and could really help out some of our overlooked residents by increasing their confidence and visibility. In turn, confident cats that can feel comfortable in our adoption center will show themselves off to potential adopters, and of course every resident we can get adopted means there’s space for another rescue! This perpetuates our mission to rescue and find placement for some of Chicago’s neediest Stray Cats!”


HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team of Maine) – Cumberland, ME

Cat Count: 135 cats

The Homeless Animal Rescue Team (HART) began in 1977 and is a shelter and adoption center for cats that has operated in Cumberland, Maine. They “provide refuge, comfort, and medical attention to cats and kittens that have been surrendered, abandoned, injured, or abused, and find loving homes to adopt them.” They have a special mission to help cats that are diabetic, have FIV or have other special needs.

The shelter is a no-kill shelter run by volunteers that receives no public funding of any kind. They moved into their building in 2004, which was “custom designed for cat sheltering and offers our residents an open environment, with climbing structures and lots of comfy beds. This environment allows the cats the freedom to play, nest, and hide, as well as form bonds with one another. All of our animals receive lots of love and attention, as well as expert veterinary care.”

One of their volunteers writes: “Our ‘Zoom Room’ houses our diabetic and special diet cats. These cats are often overlooked or not adopted because they have special needs. Many of them don’t require anything more than special wet food and some extra exercise and love. We want to have this room made over so that it looks more appealing to potential adopters and so that the cats who may spend the rest of their lives in our shelter can have a comfortable and fun life.”


PAWSitively Cats – Tucson, AZ

Cat Count: 300 adoptable and special needs cats, including 40 Feline Leukemia positive cats

PAWSitively Cats is located in Tucson, Arizona, and houses three separate groups of cats: “cats available for adoption, feral or other non-social cats, and leukemia positive cats. Their goal is to provide a No-Kill shelter and compassionate care for homeless cats in Tucson, to find loving permanent homes for these cats, to promote Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) for feral cats, and to educate the public regarding spay/neuter and responsible pet ownership.”

This largely volunteer-based no-kill shelter began in 2010, and “is a little shelter with a big heart.” They went through “a rough patch this last year when they almost had to shut their doors due to lack of funds. Luckily they managed to over come these issues and remain open and active. PAWSitively Cats is special in that they care for all cats no matter if they are healthy or not. They have numerous special needs cats and over 40 Feline Leukemia positive cats in their care. Not all shelters do this, as it means dealing with issues, needs and requirements that can be expensive over and above the cats normal care. They have to keep the ‘special needs’ cats healthy and in some cases (Feline Leukemia) separate from the non-infected cats. PAWSitively Cats cats are housed in a cage-free environment in homes dedicated to the cats and their care.”

One of their fans writes: “They could really use this Catification Makeover to give the cats an even nicer place to live with areas with cat specific equipment (shelves, wall climbers, etc.). There is nothing wrong with creating cat areas out of recycled items, BUT things built for cats and created with their specific needs and activity levels are even better. Please consider PAWSitively Cats for you Catification Makeover. You would be helping them make life better for over 300 cats!” PAWSitively Cats came in 3rd place in last year’s Catification Makeover, but with overwhelming support made the list again. This is the last year they will be eligible to be a finalist.


Cat’s Cradle Shelter – Fargo, ND

Cat Count: 100 cats

The Cat’s Cradle Shelter is a no-kill shelter for rescued cats and kittens in Fargo, North Dakota. Their residents “live in colonies of 6-10 cats in individual units based on compatibility. They are cared for by a core group of shelter volunteers. Young kittens are frequently fostered in private homes where they get 24 hour care, and lots of love and attention. And from there, they go to their furr-ever homes.”

The shelter is completely run by volunteers and is funded 100% by donations and adoption fees began in early 2012. “Before this shelter opened, there were between 400-700 cats being euthanized in their area. Since opening there have only been two adoptable cats euthanized in 2012 and ZERO in 2013.” The shelter went through a ringworm outbreak leaving the cats to be put into foster care or isolation until the shelter was disinfected and all the animals were cleared. They lost many of their cat trees, and during the process some of their furniture, which had been placed outside, was stolen.

One fan writes: “The shelter’s funds are focused on care of the cats and this makeover will help the long term residence have a place to relax. Cats Cradle Shelter strives to provide a comfortable homey environment for the cats as many of them stay on site their entire lives.” Cat’s Cradle Shelter came in 2rd place in last year’s Catification Makeover, but with overwhelming support made the list again. This is the last year they will be eligible to be a finalist.


Puffy Paws Kitty Haven – Englewood, FL

Cat Count: 200 cats

Puffy Paws Cat Haven is “a 501(c)(3) non-profit, no-kill cat hospice and rescue specializing in providing quality and loving care to special needs cats and finding homes for the adoptable kitties under their care. Puffy Paws cares for kitties with feline leukemia, FIV, feral cats, unadoptable kitties, one eye cats, senior kitties, kitties that do not use their litter box, abused kitties, cats with neurological disorders, abused kitties and more – basically unwanted and unadoptable kitties that would be euthanized elsewhere.”

The unconventional shelter they call the World’s Greatest Cathouse began in 2006 and is run by Rick and Chrissy Kingston out of their home and is completely funded by donations without help from the city.

One fan writes that Puffy Paws should win the Catification Makeover “to enrich the environment for the kitties that live there. This rescue helps the kitties that probably won’t be adopted. They need an environment that will engage and enrich them.” And fan writes: “Rick and his wife Chrissy work sun up to sun down providing for many different types of cats, particularly those with FLV that have a separate room. Their room is boring and the cats would really benefit from a room makeover. It would make them very excited and give them a pep to their paw-step.”

**Voting is now closed.**