Learn More About Purrfect Pals
- Purrfect Pals is a recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
- Our Federal Tax ID is #94-3127448
- Monetary and in-kind contributions are tax deductible as allowed by law
- View our Guidestar Profile
- Read about our BBB Accreditation
- Review our 2021 IRS Form 990
- Review our 2021 Audited Financial Report
- View our Donor Privacy and Gift Acceptance Policies
- Learn More about Donating to Purrfect Pals
Take a Trip Down Memory Lane: The History of Purrfect Pals
1988 – Too Many Cats Were Dying
In 1988, a cat lover named Kathy Centala took a look around at her community. She saw far too many unwanted cats and kittens whose only option were, in most cases, overcrowded shelters with high euthanasia rates. Kathy wondered what could be done to improve the odds for these cats and quickly determined that the only solution was to take away the option of euthanasia completely.
Before long, Kathy was accepting stray cats at her home in Brier. Her name spread even further after cat lovers heard about her “no-kill policy” and she quickly became known as “The Mother Teresa of Cats.” Cats started coming in by the hundreds.
1988 – An Amazing Lady
For over twenty years, Kathy worked the overnight shift in a Seattle call center so she would be available during the day to scoop litter, drive cats to veterinary appointments and meet with potential adopters. She never complained about the commute from Arlington and happily volunteered to work overtime whenever it was offered in order to earn more money for the cats at Purrfect Pals.
Kathy relied on every single donated dollar to keep the cats fed and make ends meet. Back then, she went shopping every day for cat food because she only had the money to buy enough for the following day. She jumped at every opportunity to raise money for the cats (whether it was selling hot dogs at Mariner’s games or collecting donations in exchange for coffee at the nearest rest stop) and made sending hand-written thank you notes to donors a top priority.
1991 – A Groundbreaking Approach
When Purrfect Pals was founded in 1988, spay and neuter was not a high priority and it was common for shelters to adopt out unaltered animals. Many still believed that female cats and dogs should not be spayed until they had delivered one litter or, at least, experienced one estrus or “heat” cycle (typically 6 months to one year at the earliest).
In 1991, Purrfect Pals took a controversial step when we made pediatric spay and neuter our standard operating procedure. After much research and discussion about the pros and cons of this groundbreaking approach to population management, we started spaying and neutering kittens as soon as they weighed at least two pounds. We formed a partnership with Dr. Mike Pfeifer, who had just opened Inglemoor Animal Hospital in Kenmore and supported our no-kill mission.
1991 to Present – Bringing Cats to the People
Because of our rural location, we quickly realized that to adopt cats out, we needed to take them out into the community rather than wait for people to find us. In the early 90’s, we began developing a robust network of offsite adoption centers and special events.
In 1991, George Maser’s Pet Shop in Bothell invited us to hold Saturday adoption events in his store – exciting! We placed twenty cats in a year and were thrilled. By 1995, our volunteers were taking cats and kittens to a variety of pet stores, including Pet Pros, Petco, and All the Best Pet Care, three or four Saturdays a month for adoption events.
In the mid-90’s, in addition to bringing adoptable kitties to stores for a few hours, we began housing and showcasing them in stores 24/7. In 1998, Snohomish Pet Pros became our first satellite adoption center with cages prominently displayed in the store.
In 2004, Petsmart invited Purrfect Pals to move into several of their cat adoption centers, a successful partnership that continues today.
1993 – A New Home for Purrfect Pals
By 1992, Kathy was taking in up to 500 stray and unwanted cats annually and placing them up for adoption. In need of more space than Brier could accommodate, she began looking for a new home for Purrfect Pals.
Kathy had never run a shelter and the only thing she had less of than money was fundraising experience. Determined to open the northwest’s first no-kill shelter and sanctuary, though, she somehow managed to scrape together the down payment for a modest house on five acres in rural Snohomish County. Kathy saw the property’s unlimited potential, which would allow Purrfect Pals to expand and save more cats.
Purrfect Pals moved into its new home in 1993 with one part-time paid employee helping volunteers clean and care for cats. Koko was the first new cat we took in after moving to Arlington from Brier. Barely two years old, she was pregnant with her third litter and her family did not want to be “inconvenienced anymore.” She was adopted in March 1994.
2003 – The Tipper Fund
Tipper was a very special cat two-year-old cat who was brought to Purrfect Pals with a variety of medical problems. His symptoms included a condition which caused vertigo, ear polyps, a head tilt and problems with maintaining balance. After a complicated surgery (after which he was blind and deaf for a time) and long recovery, Tipper was adopted to a new forever home in June of 2004.
Getting Tipper back to a healthy, happy cat was a long and expensive process. It would not have happened without the generous support of many individuals who contributed to his particular cause. In 2003, in honor of this special cat, we established The Tipper Fund to help us defray the costs of future “special needs” kitties. Frequently we take in cats that need delicate and complicated surgery, long-term medical care, or medicines. These treatments are often very expensive but we are committed to not euthanizing a cat simply because we can’t afford to treat him or her. We make life and death medical decisions based on a cat’s quality of life, not the cost of treatment.
15+ years later, the Tipper Fund is still used to fund extraordinary surgeries and veterinary procedures for special Purrfect Pals cats.
2005 – Renovations Continue
In 2005, Purrfect Pals completed one of many large-scale shelter renovation projects.
Space that started out as a garage which was attached to the original house became a new secure intake room, isolation rooms which provided a quiet place for sick cats to get healthy and a new laundry room with an industrial washer and dryer. A much needed office was added onto the front of the house.
These changes were all made possible by the generosity of our donors and volunteers.
2005 – Hurricane Katrina Cats
Purrfect Pals volunteers traveled to New Orleans to help at a rescue facility set up by Pasado’s Safe Haven and ended up bringing back three dozen cats made homeless by Hurricane Katrina. Among the cats they brought back were two mom kitties and their litters, all born on the day that Hurricane Katrina hit. The mamas were named Katrina and Rita in acknowledgement of the devastating natural disasters.
After the kitties came to the northwest, there was much hard work left for our staff and volunteers. Many were very sick from their experiences. Despite the best foster care possible, several of the kittens died, their little bodies never quite recovering from the horrible ordeal of the first few weeks of their lives. Other kitties stayed in intensive care and medical isolation at Purrfect Pals while they recovered from a whole host a maladies picked up in the swampy, wet atmosphere of post-Katrina New Orleans.
Pasado’s Safe Haven worked hard to identify as many of the original owners of the relocated pets as possible, and we were thrilled when the family of three of the kitties, Brennan (pictured here), Carondelet, and Emeril, was located two months later. Using a special donation program to pay for return flights, we were able to return the kitties to New Orleans for a very happy reunion with a family who had lost everything but missed their beloved kitties most.
2006 – FIV Land Sanctuary Opens
In 2006, Purrfect Pals created FIV Land, a first-of-its-kind sanctuary devoted to cats with feline immunodeficiency virus, specifically to highlight these special cats and encourage people to adopt them. Until recently, most shelters euthanized cats who tested positive for this virus. In the first full year of operations, Purrfect Pals adopted almost 60 FIV+ cats, which at that time was more than double any other shelter.
FIV Land is still a wonderful, bright and happy place where FIV+ kitties can roam, stretch, and play. It’s also a favorite place for volunteers to visit and play with kitties.
2006 – Prison Foster Program
At Purrfect Pals, we believe that EVERY cat matters — not just the young and healthy. We strive to help the old, fragile, injured, newborn, stray and unwanted cats and kittens. Finding acceptable foster care for semi-feral and extremely shy cats and kittens needing socialization and human contact is an ongoing challenge.
In the spring of 2006, that challenge was met by an unlikely group of individuals in the offenders at the Monroe Correctional Complex Special Offender Unit (MCC-SOU). SOU is a psychiatric prison unit contained within MCC. The SOU E living unit houses 96 mentally ill offenders who enthusiastically welcome the opportunity to provide foster care for shy and/or feral kittens. Monroe Corrections Kitten Connections (MCKC) was developed as a way to provide quality kitten foster care while simultaneously motivating offenders to make positive life changes.
In 2016, the MCKC Program was expanded to include shy adult cats. In 2017, we celebrated the 700th kitty to graduate from the program.
2010 – Major Shelter Renovations
When Kathy Centala purchased our Arlington property in 1993, it included a modest single-family home, two unattached garages and a barn. Over time and as funds and volunteer help became available, the three buildings were converted into cat housing areas. The large RV garage became a home for feral cats and cats with the feline leukemia virus. The smaller garage was turned into a clinic and the house was divided up into several rooms.
The original structures had not been built with cat health and wellness in mind, however, and in order to improve the quality of care Purrfect Pals provided, a large renovation project was completed in 2010. The two buildings which were garages in a past life were taken down to the studs and completely redesigned and rebuilt. The former RV garage was replaced by a more energy-efficient two-story building and the clinic building was significantly improved with a new surgery suite, recovery area and infirmary room. Minor improvements were also made to the main house, including separate entrances for our isolation rooms and laundry area.
2011 – Animal Planet Rescue
On June 13th 2011, Purrfect Pals staff and volunteers drove to a location in rural Washington to join the team from Animal Planet’s Confessions: Animal Hoarding television documentary series to assist with the rescue of over 100 cats that were removed from a hoarder’s home.
Purrfect Pals took in 32 cats, including 13 adults and 19 kittens, ranging in age from seven days to seven years old. The episode featuring the rescue aired on Animal Planet on December 30th, 2011.
2013 – 100,000 Cans of Friskies!
In December 2013, the cats at Purrfect Pals received an amazing holiday gift from our generous friends at Purina: The news that we would be receiving a donation of 100,000 (yes, one hundred thousand!) cans of Friskies cat food! Even better, we had two very special rescue cats to thank for the donation: Oskar and Klaus!
As part of their “If You Feed Me” holiday promotion, Purina and Friskies selected five internet celebrity cats to promote canned food for kitties. Each spokescat, (including Oskar the Blind Cat, Colonel Meow and Grumpy Cat) was asked to choose one deserving cat rescue organization to be the recipient of the 100,000 cans of food. Oskar, who recently moved to the Seattle area with his buddy Klaus (and their owners, Mick and Bethany Szydlowski), wanted the food to go to a no-kill facility with plenty of hungry mouths to feed. We were ecstatic to be selected, and by a cat as famous as Oskar!
2016 – Kathy’s 75th Birthday Groundbreaking
After three years of planning and fundraising, in September 2016 we officially broke ground for the construction of our Arlington sanctuary’s brand new building – Patty’s House!
To mark the occasion, we celebrated with a surprise groundbreaking ceremony at the 75th Birthday Party of Kathy Centala, our Founder. She used her golden litter scoop to turn the first sod, surrounded by dozens of Purrfect Pals donors, volunteers, employees and friends.
2017 – Second Chances Luncheon
In June of 2017, we held our first Second Chances Luncheon for Purrfect Pals. An amazing crowd of 400 cat lovers came together at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue to provide second chances for Puget Sound cats and the people who love them!
Guests enjoyed a delicious gourmet vegetarian lunch while learning about our new behavior rehabilitation program and other ways in which we are providing much-needed second chances for homeless cats and kittens in the Puget Sound Region. Our inspirational speakers included cat behavior expert and television star Jackson Galaxy as well as members of our community whose lives have been dramatically changed by Purrfect Pals and the cats we brought into their lives.
2017 – Shelter Expansion Project Completed!
In 2017, we completed construction of “Patty’s House,” a brand new 4000 sq ft building, at our Arlington sanctuary. We added a much-needed reception area and adoption center, additional office space, a new caretaker’s studio for Kathy Centala, our founder, (who still lives at the sanctuary), an expanded pet food bank and several more cat rooms which were designed with special needs kitties in mind. Our newly expanded facility will allow us to increase our capacity, improve the services we offer and provide even better care for the cats in our community and their families.
Our new building was designed by Janet Monda of Architectural Werks, Inc and our builder was Corstone Contractors LLC. Both firms have extensive experience with veterinary clinics, animal shelters, human clinics and similar facilities. It was extremely important to us that the firms we hired understand the unique needs of our cats and the staff that cares for them. We needed a building designed to limit the spread of germs and reduce stress in our cats. We are very pleased with all that they created for us!
2018 – Cat Pawsitive Pro Clicker Training Program
Purrfect Pals was one of six shelters who recently completed The Jackson Galaxy Project’s 2018 Autumn Cat Pawsitive Pro clicker training program! Our team of employees and volunteers worked with twenty cats during this intensive three month program, led by a training mentor. By utilizing this positive, reward-based Cat Pawsitive training, our staff and volunteers will now be able reduce the stresses that might keep a cat from connecting with an adopter.
With clicker training that positively reinforces good behaviors, a shy cat can learn to feel comfortable coming up to the front of her cage to meet a potential pet parent, a feisty cat can learn to play nice, and an outgoing kitty can even learn to give an endearing “high five” to his visitors to seal an adoption deal.
We are thrilled with the results we are already seeing thanks to clicker training! Our cats are gaining confidence and getting much-needed mental and physical stimulation. We were especially excited to learn to use clicker training to help our long term sanctuary residents who have been overlooked for adoption because of behavioral challenges. Purrfect Pals was even the first organization to implement the Cat Pawsitive Pro training in a prison foster program! LEARN MORE
2019 – Flex Room Created for Training, Staff Meetings & Events
The former master bedroom and bathroom in the original house (C Building) was remodeled. The popcorn ceiling and old windows were removed. A new sliding glass door, drywall, flooring and paint helped transform Founder Kathy Centala’s original bedroom into a Flex Room. A flat screen TV, microwave and small refrigerator were added and the room was furnished with donated conference tables and chairs. It is being used for kitten adoption events, an open house refreshment center, private tour lunches, foster and volunteer orientation, weekly staff meetings, and holiday events. The space can be easily converted to a cat care room if needed.
The old 1970s style bathroom was converted to a utility room with new stainless steel utility sink, toilet and storage shelves for supplies.
2019 – Transport Van Purchased & Wrap Donated by Alex the Cat Groomer
When our old van died, two donors came forward to fund a gently used 2012 Ford Transit Connect Cargo van with only 37,000 miles on the odometer. Alex the Cat Groomer, who donates his time to provide spa days for Purrfect Pals cats, also generously sponsored the new graphics on our transport van. Be sure to wave “Hi” to kitties when you see our van out on the road!
2020 – Summus Medical Laser Equipment Purchased
After testing out cold laser equipment and seeing how well it worked on kitties with chronic pain, $23,000 was raised to purchase a portable Summus Medical Laser for our shelter clinic. This equipment has been a life-changer for many of our long-term medically fragile residents who require on-going pain management. The portable equipment is very convenient for the clinic team to use because they can easily bring the laser directly to the rooms to perform daily and weekly treatments, avoiding the stress of transporting the cats to and from the clinic. Laser treatments are also used regularly in post-op care at the shelter to encourage suture sites to heal faster and alleviate pain, cutting down on the use of costly pain medications.
2020 – New Commercial Washing Machine Installed, Cat Housing & Volunteer Lobby Upgrades Completed
The commercial washing machine installed in 2005 finally kicked the bucket and after a quick two-day special appeal that raised over $18,000, a new washing machine was installed with a rainy day fund set aside for future repairs. The C Building received a makeover to replace flooring, drywall and windows in two cat housing rooms and the lobby used volunteer check-in, lockers, information center. The old slippery tile flooring was replaced with commercial vinyl and metal frame windows were replaced with insulated vinyl windows and a new sliding glass door for FIV Land, which was relocated from the D Building Lobby so that the adoptable cats could be housed in the Adoption Center. The Rec Room housing cats that prefer 24/7 access to a large enclosed catio had subfloor, windows and flooring replaced and a fresh coat of paint.
2020 – Gazebo, Sidewalks and Stone Retaining Wall Added & Parking Lot upgraded
The parking lot was graded and graveled and a rock retaining wall replaced rotting timbers on the earthen bank between buildings. Stepping stone stairs were added to the sloped pathway between buildings. The gravel path to the main lobby was replaced with a concrete sidewalk and a wood frame with metal roof gazebo was added on the front lawn. This created a space for outdoor activities and a fresh air waiting room for foster caregivers while their kitties attended vet appointments.
2021 – Kathy Centala Celebrates 80th Birthday with an outdoor reception & Installation of New Digital X-Ray Equipment
Founder Kathy Centala set a goal of raising $80,000. Her birthday celebration on September 11th actually raised $217,000 for new digital X-Ray equipment that was installed in October, as well as funding for future vet clinic and cat care needs.
2022 – Eagle Scout Catio Project for our FIV Room Completed
Eagle Scout Liam Martinez from Troop 49 out of Lynnwood, along with his family, troop members & friends, designed and built an enclosed catio for the kitties in our FIV Sanctuary Room in C building. We had a dedication ceremony in April 2022 to thank Liam and officially open up the catio. The cats immediately started enjoying the fresh air and extra space to stretch their legs. We’re so grateful to Liam for generously dedicating his time and talent to make this life-changing project pawsible for our special needs cats!