Building habitats for cats

Girl Scout Cadettes design, build cat condos and toys for the Orange County Humane Society.

July 05, 2012|By Jenny Stockdale, Special to the Daily Pilot
  • A cat condo, left, and a kitten condo, right, sit ready on a shelf at Cadette Troop 2360 troop leader Diane Denghausen's home in Costa Mesa on Tuesday.
A cat condo, left, and a kitten condo, right, sit ready… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Rescued felines at the Orange County Humane Society are about to feel more at home Monday, thanks to the efforts of three Girl Scout cadettes.

Representing the Newport Beach and Costa Mesa Girl Scout Cadette Troop 2360, Elise Denghausen, Julie Mariano and Sofia Vaides, all 13-year-olds who attend Ensign Intermediate School, have logged nearly 40 hours apiece on their chosen community-improvement project in an effort to achieve the Girl Scout Silver Award, the highest honor attainable by cadettes in their age bracket.

Working after school and on weekends since March, they have built 22, custom-designed "cat condos" and stitched together 24 handmade catnip toys for the shelter. They are also in the process of securing wet cat food donations from local pet stores and collecting used clean towels for the shelter.

"When we talked about what we wanted to do for this project, we all said we want to help animals," Elise said Tuesday, while the girls worked in her parents' garage finishing the condos.


"We went to the animal shelter to see how we could help and saw cat condos that a Boy Scout troop had built," she said. "I thought, 'Well we can do that.' We counted all the cats and saw that the shelter could use more condos, and we knew we could improve the design too. My dad's an architect, so he helped with that."

Using power tools, carpet scraps and plywood from discarded shipping crates, the girls, with help from Elise and Julie's dads, constructed 10 adult cat condos and 12 kitten condos. Each structure has hand-painted, removable tops and bottoms, so that the cats within them can be more accessible to visitors.

"When the girls asked the volunteers [at the shelter] what they needed, they suggested knitting or sewing coats for the dogs," troop leader and Elise's mother Diane Denghausen said. "But they aren't the knitting type."

Denghausen, a former Girl Scout who is leading five of her 10 cadettes through their Silver Award process, commended the Girl Scouts program.

"This has been an incredible learning experience for the girls," she said. "They are doing something that they chose from start to finish ... investing themselves in their community and what is important and interesting to them has been fascinating to watch. "

Elise, Julie and Sofia say they've learned a lot from an experience they describe as positive.

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