Thanks to a generous donation, Cat’s Twilight, a nonprofit rescue group in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, will soon be able to save twice as many cats. The shelter currently cares for and fosters approximately 30 kitties, providing shelter and medical care until they find their forever homes. But space is limited — Cat’s Twilight is located in the home of president Jasen Lentz, who cofounded the rescue in 2009 with his then-wife, Amy Lentz, who serves as vice president. As anyone who has spent time around the species knows, little kitties have big personalities, meaning quarters can be cramped.
Fortunately, when board members at the Margaret Raphael Foundation heard about Cat’s Twilight, they wanted to help. The foundation is a private charitable organization formed out of the estate of the late Margaret "Maggie" Raphael, a native of Oakmont, Pennsylvania.
"The members of the board of the foundation heard of us and the good work we do and decided that the donation would be a huge boon to our group and would allow us to help more cats," Jasen Lentz says.
The donation is in the form of a building that formerly housed Raphael’s business, Maggie’s Mercantile, a grocery store and restaurant that combined Raphael’s passions: vegan food and organic farming. Raphael also loved animals, and she founded OohMahNee Farm, a sanctuary for abused and neglected farm animals, in 1996. She passed away in 2011 at the age of 63.
Lentz and Erin Oliver, Cat’s Twilight director of marketing, were completely surprised by the donation. Lentz says it will allow them to help more than twice as many cats as they do now. They’ve already rescued and found homes for more than 172 cats since 2009, but they are excited to ramp up their efforts.
With 3,000 square feet and an acre of property, the building, valued at approximately $111,000, will allow Cat’s Twilight to create three large, cat-friendly rooms to house populations with different needs. It will also give the group a stronger physical presence, allowing them to work with more volunteers and fosters. Because funding is a challenge (as it is with any small rescue), the gift of the building is hugely beneficial to the shelter’s growth and expansion.
"It will help improve the lives of cats by giving us a larger space to work in and [be] even more cat friendly than our home is," he says.
This is excellent news for cats like Bella. Most cats arrive at Cat’s Twilight after being pulled from high-kill shelters or surrendered by their owners. Bella was brought in as a stray with kittens. She was absolutely terrified of humans.
"Anytime you would hold or touch her, she would curl up into a ball like a hedgehog," Lentz says. "She took well to other cats, but not so much to people."
In the year Bella lived at Cat’s Twilight, she gradually became more socialized and was eventually adopted by a woman whose late cat resembled Bella and even shared Bella’s mannerisms. It was love at first sight. In her new home, Bella has slowly come out of her shell. Lentz receives regular updates from Bella’s adopter saying how much the cat loves talking to the birds through the front door.
“She has opened up," Lentz says. "She sits at the door watching the birds outside and trills at them. We found her a forever home that suits her well."
No matter how challenging the case, Cat’s Twilight doesn’t give up. The shelter got its name not only because the group focuses primarily on older cats in their twilight years, but also because of Amy Lentz’ love of the Twilight books. Rehoming older cats can be difficult, but we do everything we can to find the cats who we rescue a forever home," Lentz says.
"Rescuing animals has shown me the capacity for love that cats have, and their ability to overcome their fears of their previous lives and become amazing companions," he adds. "Getting cats their forever homes is the greatest feeling in the world."
Lentz estimates the new shelter will be operational later this year. In the meantime, the group can use assistance in the form of financial donations and skilled laborers (carpenters, plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians). If you live in the area and want to help, get in touch with the group on Facebook. You can also make a donation or check out its wish list online.
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About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.