WJHS Industrial Arts Students Construct Condos for Some Cold Cats

Post date: Mar 04, 2014 1:31:30 PM

The winter of 2014 will most likely be remembered by those in Maine as a harsh winter that produced lots of snow and periods of bone-chilling artic air. Understandably this cold can be very hard on domesticated cats that have, for a variety of reasons, been abandoned to survive on their own in the wild.

These ‘feral’ cats and their feral offspring generally live in colonies not far from human civilization, eating from what food humans discard and taking shelter where they can. For these shy felines, avoiding hunger, predators and staying warm is a matter of survival.

To shelter a few local feral cat colonies, John Cavaretta, a member of the Board of Directors for the Animal Welfare Society (AWS) in West Kennebunk, asked WJHS Industrial Arts teacher Bob Winn if he and his students would be interested in building a few feral cat shelters in class. Winn said that his students were very eager to help out and, as of early February, had completed six for donation to AWS.

On February 7th, two AWS representatives, Spay and Neuter Coordinator Sharon Secovich and Animal Care Technician Devin Case, traveled to Wells Junior High School to receive the units.

Winn, who affectionately calls the shelters “Cat Condos” said this project was made possible with private donations of material and scrap material. He said the construction of the shelters took students about a month of in-class time. The two-story shelters are insulated with vinyl siding and have a shingled roof. There are first and second floor entrances plus a back door that allows for easy clean-up. Each shelter will be able to hold up to six cats who will lay on shavings.

According to a recent press release from AWS, four of the structures have already been placed at the home of a local feral cat caretaker whose property is home to two colonies of 30 cats. According to this individual, the cats quickly began using the structures.

Feral cats are often misunderstood and expanding feral cat populations pose challenges for local communities. To educate local animal control officers and others, AWS held an informational seminar last October to, according to the February 26th release, “…assist towns in dealing with issues surrounding stray and feral cats and to provide options on how municipalities can effectively and humanely handle these issues.”

In the above mentioned release Sharon Secovich was quoted as commenting, “A key component of feral cat colony management is providing shelter for the cats and this is where the Wells Junior High students stepped up to the plate,”

Winn believes projects like this are very beneficial. “I really believe that education should be connected with the community,” said Winn whose classes have created various items for the community over the years including 30 wooden trash receptacles for the Town of Wells in 2012 and parking attendant structures for the Town of Ogunquit several years ago. “These guys could build a ranch house,” said Winn speaking of his current students who have been very busy this year.

Caption: WJHS students Jake Lanagan (left) and Gage Baker loading winter homes for feral cats onto an Animal Welfare Society van.

Caption: In the front row (l to r): Sharon Secovich of the Animal Welfare Society, Ethan Huber-Young, James Larmie, Hunter Denis, Andrew Ladlow. Back row ( l to r): Jesse Taylor, Gage Baker, Jackson Gilliland, Tylor McDonnell, Jacob Lanagan and Bob Winn. Behind Winn is Devin Case of AWS. Classmates missing from the photo are: Samantha Kucharski, Dylan Punska-Chase, Brian Hayden, Seth Batchelder, and Matt Myers.