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Mystery donor keeps cat adoption center open

Lupine, a 6-year-old shorthair, relaxes on the counter at WAIF’s cat adoption center in Freeland. A generous donation will keep the facility open for another year. - Brian Kelly / The Record
Lupine, a 6-year-old shorthair, relaxes on the counter at WAIF’s cat adoption center in Freeland. A generous donation will keep the facility open for another year.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

The Freeland Cat Adoption Center is flush for another year.

A South End man has donated $40,000 to Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation, and $30,000 of it will go to keep the nonprofit’s Freeland cat center running. The center’s current funding is about to run out.

“He wants to remain anonymous,” Stephen Paysse, WAIF executive director, said of the donor, who Paysse said has been a longtime supporter of the group and had even adopted one of its homeless dogs.

“He cares deeply about WAIF, and he decided to make a difference,” Paysse said.

The Freeland Cat Adoption Center is one of two cats-only facilities operated by WAIF on the island. The other is in Oak Harbor. WAIF, founded in 1990, also operates animal shelters in Oak Harbor and Coupeville.

The Freeland Cat Adoption Center was established two years ago with two $30,000 grants from the charitable Hansel Foundation, and that funding will run out in about three months, Paysse said.

“It’s a generous thing,” Don Rowan of Langley, president of the WAIF board of directors, said of the latest donation. “Our intention was to keep it rolling, but we would have had to scramble to come up with funds. It’s a good deal.”

The cat adoption center on Scott Road was designed to create the friendliest possible environment for the cats, and for the people who might adopt them, said Shari Bibich, manager of WAIF’s four facilities on the island.

She said the cats, usually eight to 10 at a time in residence in specially-designed cages, can roam free among bright rooms filled with toys and cat trees.

“I call it Nirvana,” Bibich said. “You can really see their personalities. It’s a wonderful environment to come in and see a cat.”

There’s also an interview room, a plus for those who dislike the caged-in atmosphere of a traditional animal shelter, she said.

The center has two part-time employees and puts an emphasis on adult cats, although there have been kittens passing through, Bibich said. So far, it has placed 131 cats in local homes.

“This obviously relieves the funding problem in a big way,” Paysse said of the donation. “We’re very, very happy.”

The adoption center is at 1801 B Scott Road and can be reached at 331-2808.

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