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LeeAnn Rimes visits the newly-designed feline "Cat-Hattan." Ms. Rimes adopted two of the cats that she posed with at the shelter. Photo Courtesy of NSALA

Long Island's own North Shore Animal League America (NSALA), one of the nation's leading no-kill animal shelters, was the first lucky recipient this month of The Friskies for More Cat Habitat Shelter Program, with an unveiling of their uniquely designed Cat Habitat prototype.

On hand to cut the ribbon was Multi-grammy winning recording artist and animal lover LeeAnn Rimes.

Ms. Rimes, 21, took a break from her summer tour to help shelter cats live happier lives while waiting for adoption. Teaming up with Friskies to kick off their newest program, Rimes toured the state-of-the-art facility and cut the red ribbon in a ceremony at NSALA.

Selling 27 million albums in her ten-year career, she still knows the importance of mental and physical stimulation for the animals awaiting adoption.

"I have been an animal lover my entire life and respect the efforts of shelters to find loving homes for the millions of pets in need," said Rimes. "As the owner of two cats and several dogs, I think that what Friskies is doing is not only admirable, but necessary. All cats - all animals - deserve the best lives and living environments possible ... and that includes our feline friends in shelters waiting to be adopted."

Based on consumer online votes, Friskies will donate a total of $100,000 to 10 additional in-need shelters across the country in this first-of-its-kind program to help build the ultimate cat habitats with areas for playing, eating and exploring.

The Ultimate Friskies Cat Habitat is one-of-a-kind prototype, designed with Frank Bielec of TLC's Trading Spaces. Celebrity Designer Bielec is well known for his functional yet sometimes off-the-wall creations. He and his wife Judy have two adorable cats themselves.

The habitat features A New York City theme - "Cat-Hattan" - where felines waiting adoption can lounge, play, sleep and purr. It boasts an "Empire State Building" scratching post, The Brooklyn Bridge Catwalk, sunny perches, tree ottomans to hide their litter boxes, elevated walkways, a home-team baseball stadium with "catting cages," and a '50s theme Cat Cafe. The cats I saw especially liked the self-reward fun treat dispenser, which they can control with the touch of a paw.

During the ceremony, Ms. Rimes also announced the other 20 shelter finalists across the country, ten of which will receive the grant from Friskies.

Also on hand was Feline Behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett, author of a number of award-winning and critically acclaimed books, including her best-seller Think Like a Cat. Johnson-Bennett has lent her expertise to this program, assisting with the design and construction to ensure that the shelter cats are comfortable and content.

For more information about the Friskies(for More( Cat Habitat Shelter Program, cat lovers can cast their votes at www.Friskies.com. For information about North Shore Animal League and adopting a shelter animal into your loving home, you can visit their website at www.nsalamerica.org or call 516-883-7575. NSALA is open 365 days a year from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.


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