By Sara Alvarado
Patty Kaija has loved animals for as long as she can remember. So it wasn’t a much of a surprise when, in 2004, she joined a group to begin a no-kill rescue project. “I was that kid who wanted to save all animals,” Patty shares. “I got to volunteer at a no-kill shelter in college so I got to see what a good program looks like.”
Patty currently runs The Almost Home Project which is a no-kill adoption program for cats through Kaija’s, the pet and garden store that she and her husband, Matt Kaija, own together.
Patty excitedly shares that the Almost Home Project recently received a large donation from The Julia Love Pritt Foundation which has allowed the purchase of a building dedicated to The Almost Home Coalition. That means The Almost Home Project will soon be moving out of Kaija’s and into their very own building which will be located at 611 NW State Avenue in Chehalis.
The Almost Home Coalition includes The Almost Home Project, Fix-A-Pet and Fix-A-Pit, and Ani-meals. Patty works with Twila Collins of The Cat’s Meow to offer low cost spay and neuter surgeries. The target demographic is catered to low income family and feral and stray cats who would otherwise not see a veterinarian.
Have you noticed a stray cat in your neighborhood? Have you noticed if that cat is missing the tip off one ear? This is called an “ear tip” and performed on stray and feral cats that have been spayed or neutered. Patty shares, “It’s a signal to the public that someone has taken care of this cat.”
Ani-meals is another service offered through the Coalition. Ani-meals ensures that senior citizens have pet food for their animals. “In some cases, these are the last companions they have,” Patty shares. “It’s that unconditional love an animal can give you. We want to help them if we can.”
And the Coalition is definitely making a difference in the community. Patty explains, “We are seeing a positive impact. There are fewer unwanted cats and the number of euthanized animals is going down.” With the growth of the Coalition, Patty has lots of hope for the future.
But the most rewarding days for Patty are when a kitty gets a forever home. “We invest so much time and love with each cat that we feel some sadness to see them go,” Patty shares. “But we celebrate their adoption so much more because we know they have a home.”
The Almost Home Coalition works with kittens and young cats. But what does that mean for other animals? As Patty shares, “Animal rescue is all about having a network.”
She and the Almost Home Coalition work closely with Kitty Kat Haven when they are called about older cats. Kitty Kat Haven rescues and adopts older and adult cats. Kitty Kat Haven, like The Almost Home Project, is also a no-kill rescue. Additionally, the Coalition is in close contact with other various animal rescue agencies across the county and state.
The Almost Home Coalition is completely run by volunteers. All donations go straight to helping animals in need. And Patty shares that with the expansion, their need for volunteers will be greater than ever before. In addition to growing the current programs offered through the Coalition, Patty hopes to add some fun community events.
“I want to build a reading room where kids can come and spend time with the cats and read out loud to them.” Patty shares. “Sometimes kids feel bad reading in front of adults or other kids, but there’s absolutely nothing to be self-conscious about in front of a cat.” A recent grant from PetFinder is going to help make this dream a reality for the Almost Home Coalition.
Patty also says that one of the best perks of volunteering with the Coalition is getting to socialize the cats. “That basically means snuggle and playtime with the kitties. This is important because a well socialized cat, one that likes to play and be around people, is going to be adopted faster.”
If you would like more information about the low cost spay and neuter program through The Cat’s Meow visit them online or phone or text at 360-623-0820
If you would like to adopt, foster, volunteer, or donate to the Almost Home Coalition visit them online or call 360-508-0151. Or visit The Almost Home Project’s adoption page on Petfinder.
Patty says, “If you can, please adopt. If you can’t adopt then volunteer. If you can’t volunteer then donate. If you can’t donate then educate.”