Thanks to an anonymous $125,000 donation, the organization hopes to launch the first of many improvements in January — a new intake facility to replace a smaller, ailing and crowded version of the same.

With 15 years and 6,500 cats come and gone, the Committed Alliance to Strays headquarters on Ross Lane has seen better days.

Thanks to an anonymous $125,000 donation, the organization hopes to launch the first of many improvements in January — a new intake facility to replace a smaller, ailing and crowded version of the same.

CATS Director Janice Whetstone said the donor, who likely would be named at a later date, had adopted a cat from the organization and was one of hundreds from the local community "very familiar with the work done at CATS." The center's intake facility is the first stop for stray and abandoned felines.

Upon arriving at CATS, cats and kittens are tested for feline leukemia and various other illnesses, bathed, given shots, treated for fleas and other maladies then socialized, partially on-site and then in foster care, in order to one day be adopted.

Whetstone said the larger, newer building will increase the shelter's intake capacity as well as provide "slightly bigger but far more usable" surroundings.

Eventually, a second phase for renovation includes replacing the existing adoption quarters, currently an older modular structure.

Special TV screens for cat entertainment and even an enclosed outdoor play area will eventually become part of the organization's offerings.

Long term, Whetstone said CATS hopes to establish a permanent "retirement home" of sorts for aged or otherwise difficult-to-adopt felines, a service being informally provided to several older or more difficult-to-adopt felines.

Awaiting final approval from the city of Medford, Whetstone said the intake area could break ground by January and would fall in line with plans to rehabilitate the west Medford area.

"We've read and looked at all the proposed changes and renovations for west Medford," she said. "We've been part of west Medford for 14 years and we want to continue to be good neighbors and serve the public."

CATS board member Susan Binette said supporters are elated to have a chance to improve the busy facility to ensure stray cats have a place to go.

"We are very excited to have an opportunity to replace our intake facility and eventually expand and replace our current adoption area," Binette said. "We have such a committed group of people working for CATS "¦ We don't know how soon the other work will happen but this intake facility is a much needed improvement and will help us continue to serve the community and provide a place for cats and kittens that usually don't have any other options.

"We pretty much take them all in. As long as they're amenable to being handled and being adopted into a home, we do everything we can for them."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.