By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

Lana Dethloff paints the outline of a cat, then frowns and swabs it off with a wet sponge.

Instead, she decides to paint the box orange — a bus of sorts, based on a movie she recently watched.

“It’s a cat bus,” Dethloff says, scrolling through images on her phone to show her inspiration. “It’ll be cute.”

Towering behind her are five more boxes, all painted in various feline motifs.

Cats in Baker City will have stylish and warm houses this winter thanks to Best Friends of Baker Inc. and the “Kitty House” project.

Thick styrofoam boxes that originally contained medications were donated by Oregon Trail Livestock Supply, pharmacies, veterinarians, D&B Supply, St. Alphonsus Medical Center and community members. The exterior is primed and painted gray, and a door cut out for an entrance.

Dethloff and her fellow art students at Baker High School have painted about 10 of the shelters.

“I love painting on these boxes,” Dethloff said, as she started on her second one. “I’m really glad we got them.”

Jordynn Fine, a sophomore in the Introduction to Art class, painted “Purr-fect Home” on her box.

“One of my friends said ‘cats make the purr-fect noise’ and I thought ‘ah-ha!’ ” she said.

Best Friends has acquired 45 boxes so far, and 10 have been placed in the community. Each has a layer of straw inside for cushioning, and a weight on top to keep it from blowing away in the wind.

Natural Structures is donating a metal stencil with the Best Friends logo outline created by Misty Hollinger. These will be painted onto each box, along with a phone number. When a box is no longer needed, the person who placed it can call Best Friends to ensure that the house will be used for another cat.

The shelter boxes are available at the Best Friends Saturday Market between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. at 2950 Church St., or by calling 541-519-7387.

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