UCLA students build ‘frat house’ for cats

During spring break, UCLA college student volunteers assemble a cat house for the felines at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
By Christelle L. Del Prete

Sunny the cat at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Cat WorldNot every cat in Cat World at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary has his own frat house. In fact, Sunny is the only one. And how did he earn this privilege? Well, part of it can be attributed to his winning personality; another part to being in the right place at the right time; and the third part has to do with seizing opportunity.

As a lobby cat in Cat World Headquarters, Sunny has a bird's-eye view of the goings-on in the busy building. So it did not escape his notice when a group of UCLA students, who wanted to spend their spring break doing community service, started construction on something that looked very much like a dollhouse, but that was actually meant for puppies.

UCLA students assemble a cat house

The puppy house was sold as a kit, and a Best Friends supporter had kindly donated it to Dogtown. But caregivers thought it might be a little too small and delicate for playful, growing pups. On the other hand, it seemed like it might be perfect for kittens. So Cat World manager Michelle Warfle snagged it for the cats. There was only one problem. With their various duties and responsibilities, the Cat World staff had no time to assemble the house.

Enter a volunteer group led by Anees Hafnain, the community service commissioner from the UCLA Undergraduate Association. Group/intern coordinator Kristine Kowal says they were one of the most fun and hardworking groups she's ever been around. In addition to building the cat frat house, they built a huge cat tree that same day and even took cats for walks and stroller rides. (They also put in a good amount of time working on a pig trail at Marshall's Piggy Paradise during that week.)

Sunny the cat loves his new UCLA house at Best FriendsOne cat makes himself at home

"It was totally a group effort, and they were a great group," Kristine says, though she wasn't the only one who appreciated their efforts. The cats all enjoyed checking out the new digs, but it was Sunny who claimed the structure as his own. Though he took it more by opportunity than by force, Sunny is not above giving the evil eye to any other cat who dares try to enter his house while he is occupying it. It's become his own special place - one where he even gets room service from his caregivers, as they often bring him his meals in there.

"He just loves his UCLA frat house," says Cat World caregiver Dale Oster. And Sunny is such a sweet cat that no one can begrudge him that.

To learn more about Sunny and the other adoptable cats at the Sanctuary, go to the Adopt a Pet section of our website.

Get information on volunteering at the Sanctuary.

Photos by Molly Wald

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