No more ‘kitten’ around

Nathan Kober, Staff Writer

More than 50 cats will soon be able to return to their shelter in downtown Whitewater that was evacuated after a fire at Rosa’s Pizza at 180 W. Main St. on Oct. 7.

The shelter, Touched by a Paw, is located in the back of the vintage clothing store Reflections of the Past.

Both have been closed in the last month since the fire.

The fire caused an estimated $300,000 in damage to the restaurant and neighboring buildings, including apartments, according to the initial report from the Whitewater Fire Department.

Janna Burhop, who owns Reflections of the Past, said the damage to the store was mostly caused by smoke, not the fire itself, but much of the interior has to be cleaned or replaced before the store can reopen.

“It could [open around] Christmas. I don’t know,” Burhop said. “I was hoping for the first of December, but there’s a lot of work to do.”

Burhop, who is also president and director of Touched by a Paw, plans to have the shelter open again by Saturday, Nov. 11.

Deb Thornton, treasurer and board member of the shelter, has made her garage a makeshift shelter for the cats since the fire.

“We had a rummage sale in August and September, and the garage was all cleaned out for that,” Thornton said. “We needed a bigger space – the idea just came to me to offer it up.”

Many of the cats had to be taken to the Whitewater Veterinary Hospital after inhaling smoke, but they have since been released.

Burhop said the shelter has received a wave of support in the past month. A GoFundMe campaign for the shelter raised $4,580. Donations covered the costs of replacing food and medicine destroyed by smoke damage.

The shelter has given many of the cats new homes since the fire. Three cats were adopted the Saturday after the fire, and four more have been adopted since.

“The one good thing about the fire was we got so much exposure,” Thornton said. “Even the firemen were shocked. They didn’t know there was a shelter here.”