Climbing up their playroom walls, napping in plush cat beds or playing with each other, the dozens of cats at the Nine Lives Foundation’s adoption center in Redwood City may look at home in the nonprofit’s recently-opened space at 3106 Rolison Road.
But the dozens of cat awaiting adoption at the no-kill facility have only had weeks to acclimate to their new surroundings and, if all goes well, they won’t stay at the adoption center for long. By offering spaying, neutering and microchip services to cats who might otherwise be put down at other shelters, the nonprofit offers an opportunity to be adopted by a family despite conditions like ringworm or small behavioral quirks, said the nonprofit’s founder and veterinarian Dr. Monica Rudiger.
For the past year and a half, the 15-year-old nonprofit has been providing medical services and adoption services for cats at a 1,500-square-foot clinic at 3137 Jefferson Ave. and it’s been nearly two years since Rudiger started renovating a 1,750-square-foot former Laundromat to become an adoption center capable of holding an estimated 150 felines.
On Oct. 6, Rudiger and her staff at the Nine Lives Foundation were finally able to welcome cats and potential owners at the new space, which features much larger playrooms for the cats to play in and be seen by those who visit the center. It also has rooms where cats with different conditions, such as upper respiratory infections and kittens in need of nursing, can be treated and kept separate from the others.
“It’s been a long road, but I think we finally have a space that we’re really proud of and the cats will be really comfortable and the public will enjoy,” she said.
Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October, the new center has welcomed up to 70 visitors in one day and has been averaging 30 adoptions a week, said Rudiger, who added the nonprofit is hoping to ramp up its hours of operation to seven days a week in November and December.
By providing a room where visitors can meet cats they are thinking of adopting and ensuring adopted cats are spayed or neutered and receive a medical examination before they go home with their new families, the new adoption center gives visitors and their future pets a chance to get to know each other.
“We want them to have the cat choose them,” she said. “You can’t see their personality unless you can touch them and feel them.”
Rudiger said adoptions will still be available at the Jefferson Street clinic, where she performs spay and neutering surgeries at $60 and $40, respectively, and that she plans to eventually offer most adoptions at the Rolison Road center to free up space for a small retail component at the clinic.
Rudiger said the nonprofit used to operate out of a 5,000-square-foot space about half a block away from the new adoption center on Rolison Road, but moved out of the space when it was not able to afford to make much-needed improvements. In the new adoption center, Rudiger said ventilators have been installed in rooms where cats with specific conditions, such as respiratory infections or ringworm, are quarantined, and the temperature is much easier to control.
Carol Scola, one of the nonprofit’s board members, said the nonprofit receives many cats from other animal shelters and people who find feral cats in the wild. Because Nine Lives Foundation is unique in that it accepts cats with treatable conditions, it receives inquiries from people well outside the county in search of a place where the feline can find a happy home. With the new space, Scola expected the nonprofit’s offerings to also expand.
“The more room you have, the more you do,” she said. “There’s still more and more and more … it’s like, when do we ever catch up?”
At nearly $500,000, Rudiger said the renovation costs for the new adoption center were close to double what she initially budgeted, but the nonprofit was able to raise some $300,000 through an online crowd-sourcing platform and calendar sales and also received support from several large contributions. With hundreds of donors chipping in $9 donations and several workers willing to chip extra hours to complete the renovation, Rudiger said the response to their fundraising campaign was overwhelming.
“It’s very exciting to see a community effort come out like that,” she said. “Everyone mattered and all the funds went directly into the construction account.”
Despite the months of renovation and construction delays, Rudiger said seeing the cats being able to stretch their legs in their new, temporary home and eventually find their new families has been worth the wait.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but we’re always going to be here,” she said, noting seeing the cats find their adopted families and leave the shelter has been very rewarding. “To see them leaving, it’s just like the best feeling.”
The Nine Lives Foundation’s Grand Opening Celebration will be held 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 21 at Redwood City’s Sequoia Yacht Club, 441 Seaport Court.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106