Paws and Claws opens a cat adoption center, hopes to save more cats from euthanasia


Astry Rodriguez/Daily Senior Staffer

Paws and Claws is expanding its cat adoption and foster initiative to rescue cats at risk of being euthanized and offer them medical attention.

Astry Rodriguez, Senior Staffer

More than 150 people gathered for Paws and Claws Cat Rescue’s new cat adoption center’s grand opening in Evanston on Saturday. 

Visitors toured the space and saw a handful of small kittens housed behind glass walls playing with interactive toys.

The center, located at 829 Chicago Ave., is Paws and Claws’ first facility. Executive Director Ashlynn Boyce first founded the nonprofit in 2020 with the mission to rescue cats from local shelters at risk of euthanization. 

“In Illinois alone, there’s about 6,000 animals euthanized each year,” Boyce said. “That was sort of the driving force.”

The facility features four cat rooms that allow up to 10 cats to live together, play and be cared for by the volunteer staff. People can also come to the center to meet and adopt the cats. 

The center also has a room for ill cats, and will provide an in-house vet and medical equipment for spay and neuter procedures, as well as bigger surgeries like amputations, Boyce said. 

Prior to opening the center, Boyce said her organization placed more than 400 cats with foster and adoptive families each year, providing them with medical resources and pet supplies. With the new center, the organization might be able to help over 1,000 cats annually, she said. 

“Our intake is going to increase by three times, and those are cats that are at risk of euthanasia in shelters,” Boyce said.

More than 90% of Paws and Claws’ cats come from open admission shelters, which take in the most animals and often have to euthanize them, she added. 

Boyce said she decided to focus on helping felines because shelters tend to overlook and undersocialize cats, especially black cats.  

“Cats and dogs enter U.S. shelters at about the same rate (as dogs),” Boyce said. “But two cats are euthanized for one dog. So that’s already a pretty staggering, staggering statistic.”

Chicago resident Kayla Truckey, who attended the opening, said she transports cats for Paws and Claws through her job at Rescueber, a rescue animal transportation nonprofit. She said she’s excited to support the new Evanston center.

“The attendance is really incredible. The space is beautiful,” Truckey said. “I think it’s really amazing what (Boyce has) been able to accomplish.”

At the opening ceremony, Paws and Claws volunteers handed out free goodie bags from Bentley’s Pet Stuff with cat food and treats. 

People interested in adopting a cat could scan a QR code to access an adoption requirement page. Some tables offered interactive activities like guessing the amount of treats in a jar for a gift card.

Volunteers also sold merchandise from Paws and Claws, while a food truck from Kona Ice sold Hawaiian shaved ice — with a portion of proceeds going towards the Paws and Claws’ $400,000 fundraising campaign to fund the facility.

Communication senior and field hockey player Alia Marshall, along with several other athletes, volunteered for the day through TrueNU to give back to the Evanston community and participate in civic engagement. 

“Paws and Claws is a really fun place to volunteer because of the kittens and it being the grand opening,” Marshall said. 

Boyce said she hoped the new center will not only save lives but also provide a supportive space for community members to enjoy.

“We’re very community-oriented and we’re just excited to actually have a space to gather,” Boyce said. “Up until this point, it’s been really virtual … So we’re excited to have a space to hold events and to do educational things.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @Astry_tpwk

Related Stories: 

Evanston City Council to vote on $6.3 million renovation project for Evanston Animal Shelter

As Evanston Animal Shelter moves to rebuild, Vicky Pasenko reflects on more than 15 years of service

Northwestern students adopt and foster pets during the pandemic