By Ellen Spitaleri
If cats could dream, they would conjure up an environment exactly like the one at House of Dreams cat shelter in NE Portland where felines have room to wander and socialize and places to curl up for a nap in cozy solitude.
Their every need is catered to by a group of volunteers dedicated to providing the cats with a healthy and loving home.
“It’s a labor of love,” said Deborah Morse, president of the House of Dreams Board and a long-time volunteer at the free-roam, no-kill shelter, where cats can be adopted or live out their lives.
House of Dreams began in 1999 as an all-volunteer organization and remains that way today.
What sets it apart from other shelters is “the fact that we are a small shelter, helping out cats that are harder to adopt,” Morse said. The organization takes in older cats, special-needs cats and cats that have tested positive for feline leukemia.
She has adopted two senior cats from House of Dreams and noted that senior felines are “wonderful cats” who can enrich their owners’ lives. She said that their cats with feline leukemia are adoptable and can live quite long lives.
Cats adopted from House of Dreams will be neutered, up to date on shots and dental work and will have a complete physical exam before going to their new home. The shelter recommends that adopted cats live indoors, as they will live longer, healthier lives.
Morse noted that the address of the shelter is not online and is not given in this story, as the all-volunteer crew is not authorized to take in cats or give tours.
The shelter is a 501(c)(3) organization, and donations to House of Dreams are always appreciated, Morse said, adding that every dollar goes toward the welfare of the cats.
“Vet bills can amount to thousands of dollars a month due to things such as dental work or surgery so that we are adopting out a cat whose health issues have been addressed,” she said.
There are a number of ways that people can help. They can “buy something locally and donate to us or they can be ‘angels’ by sponsoring a cat for $35 a year,” she said.
Other ways to help include signing up for the Fred Meyer Community Rewards Program or the Bottle Drop program and designating the shelter to receive the money.
House of Dreams will hold a virtual silent auction from Saturday, November 9-Saturday, November 14. A week or so before the event people can preview the items that will be available.
Anyone interested can sponsor a room in the shelter or can bid on silent auction items. In the past, golf outings and various classes and tickets to plays, among other things, have been up for bid, Morse said, noting that the cartoonist who draws “Mutts” donates a cartoon to the auction.
The shelter has an Etsy store that will open in mid-October with handcrafted items ranging from cat toys to jewelry, household items and more.
Volunteers are always needed at the shelter, Morse said, adding that because of COVID-19 restrictions, “we keep the human population fairly low and do things in shifts.”
She noted that teams of volunteers clean litter boxes, feed and medicate the cats and socialize and play with the feline residents.
Leslie Cobb has volunteered at the shelter for less than a year and said that she is part of the medical team, helping keep track of when medications need to be refilled.
Cobb has nine cats at home, two adopted from House of Dreams, and said she enjoys working with the other volunteers who all bring different skills and talents to the shelter.
One plus factor for adopting a cat from the shelter is that you know if a cat can have a good relationship with other cats. “You can see that right away; if cats are kept in cages, you can’t tell,” she added.
Mark Morgan said he and his wife have volunteered for the shelter over a period of years and said he likes to see “a cat come in and blossom.”
Morse recalled that the shelter once took in an older, female cat whose owners were moving abroad for a couple of years.
“She was still with us when they returned and so they adopted her back. She went back to her original family, but she was loved and doted on when she was here,” Morse said.
She added, “On the rare occasions that an adoption doesn’t work out, we will take the kitty back. Our primary concern is the care and welfare of the cat.”
Those interested in volunteering at the shelter or adopting a cat can visit the House of Dreams website, kittydreams.org, and click on Contact Us. Photos of cats up for adoption are on the website. For more information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leo looks down from his perch at House of Dreams. Photo by Dick Trtek