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Snohomish County organization saves cats deemed 'disposable'

The mission at Arlington's Purrfect Pals is to end cat euthanasia and give all cats a loving home.

ARLINGTON, Wash. — It's the last hope for cats nobody else wants.

Purrfect Pals takes in cats like Overton, who has feline leukemia virus, a disease that could kill him at just 10 months old.

"I would say without proper nutrition and vet care the prognosis wouldn't be great," says Crystal Chiechi, operations manager at Purrfect Pals.

Overton and thousands of other cats have been saved from euthanasia by workers at Purrfect Pals in Arlington since the operation began in 1988.

They come from shelters and owners who simply can't or won't care for their special needs.

"We're like assisted living for cats," says Chiechi.

The organization is currently caring for about 100 cats with a wide variety of problems. Max has hepatitis and some liver dysfunction. Big Mama has the feline version of AIDS. Butterscotch has behavioral problems. 

"She just can't seem to use the litter box," says Chiechi.

Others have life-threatening weight issues or chronic sinus conditions.

Then there's Bo, who suffers from anxiety and uses a giant version of a hamster wheel to work it out. Each of the cats was deemed disposable by someone, but at Purrfect Pals euthanasia is never an option.

"So, when you take euthanasia off the table, you're really taking a look at what can be done to make these cats healthier," says Chiechi.

Making them healthier means having "wards" for their particular problems.

There is the leukemia ward, the weight loss ward and the feline AIDS ward. Purrfect Pals takes in cats from as far away as Mexico. 

Currently, 30 to 40 of them are ready for adoption.

Workers took in 130 cats that likely would've been put down from the Everett Animal Shelter, last year, alone. EAS does not euthanize healthy animals for space and there are no time limits.

According to American Humane, in 1997, 71% of cats brought to shelters were euthanized. Now, 90% of them live.

That's thanks, in large part, to organizations like Purrfect Pals, where being unwanted is unthinkable.

"Every single one of them is worthy and deserving of a loving home, and sometimes we're the ones that will provide it for them," Chiechi said.

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