As any cat lover will tell you, along with being soft, sophisticated and expert nappers, cats can sometimes be shy, standoffish or afraid. At shelters, these qualities make cats much less likely to live. “If anybody’s even remotely challenging, they won’t be taken home,” says Ann Dunn, founder of Cat Town in Oakland.
Dunn got the idea for Cat Town while she was a volunteer at Oakland Animal Services, where she saw the challenges faced by the severely under-resourced shelter to care for the number of animals it receives each year. Cats, in particular, had a hard time being adopted when they were shy or hid in cages. Dunn decided to start a foster-based cat-adoption program in 2011, which now encompasses a network of more than 50 foster homes in and around Oakland.
In 2014, Dunn launched Cat Town Cafe and Adoption Center, allowing cats to have a place to socialize and learn from more confident cats how to interact with humans. In the Cafe’s free-roaming space, guests and cats alike can enjoy a relaxed environment and get to know one another without the stress of the shelter, reducing the barriers to the adoption process.
We are hoping to be able to see the full process of adoption differently. Cats enjoy their time while waiting for a home, but also potential adopters see the cats for who they really are.
— Ann Dunn, Founder
The success of Dunn’s work shows in the numbers: In 2011, 33 cats were adopted. By 2017, the number of successful cat adoptions was nearly 10 times that, at 301.
Over the years, as her model has earned success Dunn has had the opportunity to grow—opportunities that Beneficial State Bank has financially supported. With a loan from Beneficial State Bank, in 2017 Dunn expanded Cat Town’s adoption center by opening The Studios at Cat Town. Dunn and her staff still work closely with the Oakland Animal Shelter, bringing some of the most difficult-to-place shelter cats to Cat Town and providing dedicated attention from Cat Town staff as well as have higher opportunities for visibility and adoption by residents.
One of the things that excited me about Beneficial State Bank was its community focus. So many banks are absolutely profit-driven at any cost, but [imagine] if we all put our money into banks that we believe in and believe in us.
— Ann Dunn, Founder