Rebuild The Cat House Inc
I just wanted to do a final update to thank you all again for the kind, caring and generous support to this Go Fund Me campaign.
I am so glad that although the funds were not used for the original cause, as a large group of cat lovers we were able to help out some less fortunate kitties through the donations to the rescue groups.
I'd also like to express extreme gratitude to my ex husband Nick Maio who worked tirelessly alongside of me during the raising of these funds! Volunteering his time, energy, and gas, driving, delivering, picking up ...whatever needed done he was there to help. We were able to contribute a lot of much needed goods to the displaced Fort Mac animals as well.
Please note that in closing, this Go Fund Me page will no longer be monitored or responded to.
If you wish to contact me please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
With heartfelt thanks,
1 - Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society, Calgary
2 - Arts Senior Animal Rescue, Calgary+Edmonton
3 - Whisker Cat Rescue, Red Deer
As well, we made donations to the animals affected by The Fort Mac fire.
Watch us tonight at 6 pm on Global News and CTV news with Jason Thomas, director of The MEOW Foundation.
Angela would like to mention that Gabriel and Margarita are still living with her and doing well.
- Candace Schneider - former manager of THE CAT HOUSE retail store. Creator and administrator of the GoFundMe campaign.
- Joanne Wegiel - President and co-owner of
THE CAT HOUSE INC
As the anniversary of the devastating November 12, 2015 fire is fast approaching, the GoFundMe money has been weighing heavily upon me and a decision for its use must be made. Please bear with the lengthiness of this letter as I explain the complete history up to this point regarding this fund.
When I started the GoFundMe campaign the day after the fire, circumstances were very different personally and business wise. I began the fund because concerned customers had suggested I initiate this. They were worried about the hard working staff and the difficulties they may face through the upcoming holiday season. I also wanted to rebuild the store and get everyone their jobs back. Prior to this, Joanne and Henry and I (and former husband) were in partnership negotiations for The Cat House at a new location. This was impending due to the redevelopment of The Stadium Shopping Centre and the Wegiels’ upcoming retirement plans.
In the initial stages of the GoFundMe campaign the money was to be used for the following:
1.) Lost wages for staff in the event that insurance did not cover this
2.) My own buy in/partnership for the new Cat House
3.) Rebuilding The Cat House and associated costs.
Days later after meeting with the insurance company, the adjustor assured us that:
1.) Joanne and Henry would receive loss of business insurance for one year, replacement value of the store’s stock and fixtures and their own wages for one year,
2.) As well, they would receive the wages for the staff to disperse to them. The conditions were such that as long as the staff did not obtain new employment elsewhere their wages would also be fully covered for one year.
This was to ensure that The Cat House employees were retained during the difficult rebuilding process. After confirmation of this, Joanne requested that I remove from the GoFundMe campaign the statement that it would be used for staff wages and I complied as we had been assured we would be paid.
Peter Chaos, The Cat House Assistant Manager, found a new job in the early New Year representing a pet food company that was one of our suppliers and he moved to Vancouver to pursue this new opportunity.
Within a few months Hannah Carter-Edwards gave her notice as she was returning back to school.
A few months ago with no sign of the store reopening, Meghan Binnie regretfully resigned for a new job opportunity, saying she would love to come back to the store should it ever reopen.
As I always have, I continued to work for West Jet Encore as a Flight Attendant. West Jet was and continues to be a great support through all of my life challenges through this past year.
The insurance company confirmed that I could keep my existing job with West Jet Encore provided I did not find a replacement job for The Cat House.
In a transitional period, scheduling actual hours to work without a physical location as well as the radical change to our previous core job responsibilities made things difficult. We were hopeful that this was very temporary and we would soon have a new location and be able to resume our previous duties.
As time passed it seemed it was impossible to find just the perfect location. Each time the leasing agent and I felt we had found a suitable spot to reopen, it did not meet the needs of The Cat House. Unfortunately the leasing agent decided to move on.
In mid May another life challenge surprised me and my husband separated from me. The end of a 14 year relationship was pretty devastating. I took a 2 month stress leave from West Jet to recover from this second difficult transition. I have had to sell many of my personal belongings and our house is currently listed on MLS. Due to my impending divorce unfortunately the opportunity to partner with the Wegiels is no longer feasible.
With only two weeks until the anniversary of the fire, compensation from the insurance company will end. The majority of the staff are already no longer receiving any funds.
I initially told anyone that asked what would happen to the GoFundMe money should the store fail to reopen, that it would all be donated to Animal Rescue foundations. The two charities that I chose were the MEOW foundation ( www.meowfoundation.com) and The Cochrane and Area Humane Society ( www.cochranehumane.ca). These two rescue organizations were supported extensively by The Cat House and very dear to Joanne. Gabriel and Margarita, our two shop cats were both rescues from the CAHS.
As time went on a number of donators to the GoFundMe reached out to me personally suggesting other uses for the money. Some of the people who initially donated believed the funds should be used to compensate the staff that had lost their jobs. Many of the staff members moved on from the jobs they loved due to unforeseen loss of wages.
To give you a better understanding of contributors to the GoFundMe campaign, I’d like to take this time to personally thank more than half the contributors who are not even actual customers of The Cat House. Thank you to my family, personal friends, West Jet coworkers, West Jet Management and West Jetters who I have never even met, musicians from the bands I have supported for years, and even businesses my family and extended family are employed by. Many of these people are not even local to the area. Their contributions I feel were in support of me personally and my quest to reopen a new cat store in which I would be a partner.
I am reaching out to all of you at this time to help me determine how to allocate this GoFundMe money. If each of you could reply to me via email at your earliest convenience to email@example.com with your choice of the following:
1.) Cat Rescue – money to be equally divided between MEOW Foundation and CAHS (with proof of the two donations to be shared in a future update.)
2.) To Joanne and Henry Wegiel – founders of the The Cat House Inc. This money will go to the Wegiels regardless of whether they reopen a store or not. (This is for simplicity’s sake as the money may well be given to them before they determine if a store will be opened.)
3.) To reimburse previous Cat House employees for lost wages.
Please keep in mind that GoFundMe takes a fee and a percentage for each transaction. Please refer to www.gofundme.com/pricing for more information.
Please also keep in mind that some of the money donated to the GoFundMe was used at the donators’ requests to buy supplies for the displaced animals of the Fort MacMurray fire and these funds were dispersed at that time as per those requests.
Unfortunately no refunds will be given as it would not be cost or time effective. However, in this tough economic time animal charities could make excellent use of your donation.
In the event that I do not receive a reply from any of you by November 11, 2016 and you have made a donation, your donation will be used for Option 1 – Cat Rescue Charity.
Prior to November 15, 2016, I will send a final update with this group’s wishes for the allocation of the GoFundMe money.
With much appreciation and thanks, a heavy heart and the dream that one day I may have my own cat store,
Former Manager of The Cat House and GoFundMe campaign leader.
Hello to all reading this. Joanne here, writing to update you on our search for a new location for THE CAT HOUSE after the November 12th, 2015 fire that destroyed our business and five others in the Stadium Shopping Centre. Many of you have contacted us to let us know that you are anticipating our store reopening. Understandably some of you are wondering what's taking so long to find a new location and set up again. Please know that we are still actively searching but have simply not found a space that fits our needs. At any given time only a small percentage of retail space is vacant or available. Our leasing agent told us that there is less retail space in NW than in any other quadrant of the city, and our customers have clearly communicated to us that they would prefer that our store remain in NW. Over the past eight months we have found, enquired about, and visited dozens of potential locations. Only three have met our criteria and in all three cases our negotiations were fruitless.
We are looking for a 2500 sq ft space with:
- a delivery door in the back that very large trucks can pull up to with pallets of cat food and litter
- easy access for cars to pull in and free parking for our customers
- good visibility from nearby roads
The first location we liked was given to another tenant. We recently found other good location, then a good customer found another one, but in both cases the landlords increased their asking price significantly during negotiations. So we are still looking. Just this week we checked out another location.
When news of the fire hit the media we were contacted by many of you with offers to help, and suggestions to set up a fund raising campaign. Candace, our young manager, is very adept with social media and set up a GoFundMe campaign which quickly reached the $25,000 goal. Those funds are safe in a separate GoFundMe bank account that Candace set up. The money will be used to help with the expenses of setting up a new location.
We had hoped to be up and running months ago and understand you may be concerned about the GoFundMe contributions. Please know that we are doing all we can to keep THE CAT HOUSE going. We will continue our search and post updates on our website www.thecathouseinc.com, facebook/thecathouseinc.com,
and on GoFundMe
If you wish to contact me for any reason call 403-228-2287 (403-CAT-CATS) or email to
We appreciate all the support you have shown us through this dramatic and traumatic turn of events. Your kind words have meant the world to us and we are keenly aware of your wishes for us to reopen as soon as possible. We know that retail is location, location, location and we can only choose from what is available at the moment.
Please know that we are still busy in the background keeping up with pet industry news and continually sourcing new products. We can hardly wait to show you all the creative cat products found on a recent business trip.
Prior to the fire, we knew that the Stadium Shopping Centre was going to be redeveloped in the next year or so. We had hoped to partner with our young manager, Candace, who would have been the ideal person to carry on this unique business. At our age we need to start thinking about our exit plan, and our future retirement. When most leases are negotiated, the standard term is for five or ten years. We may need someone to take over before that time period, which is why want to have a partner when we sign the lease.
Circumstances have changed that make this particular partnership unlikely to happen now.
We have put 24 years in to this business and would like to see it continue. THE CAT HOUSE has incredible potential to continue growing. It is already the largest cat specialty store in Canada. We have many products not found in other pet stores. The Internet and eCommerce could possibly double our sales within the next 5 years.
If you are interested in joining with us to reopen THE CAT HOUSE please contact us. We would stay in the business long enough to get it going strong again and you feel confident taking over.
- Joanne (403) CAT-CATS
Due to my recent divorce, I am not in a position to partner with Joanne and Henry Wegiel at this time. The Cat House was the best job I ever had and I would love to have it back. If you would like to partner with Joanne and Henry, I would be more than happy to resume my position as store manager and would consider a future partnership with the right individual. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cat House is a wonderful local business that does so much for the community and means a lot to so many. I would love to see it continue.
The best way to clean kitties' fur is with a professional feline shampoo and conditioner. I have Chris Christensen "Clean Start" and "After Bath" and can help by giving some if you like. Alternately, there is a professional cat groomer in Calgary who is very good.
Hi Candace, I would prefer the money be donated to charity. That being said, please let us know what you decide to do. If funds do get donated to a charity or two, please let us know the breakdown for each and then confirm where the other funds out of the total raised were spent. Thanks, Karen
My son and I would always come in and see margarita and Gabriel when we would go to the fish store weekly. We were so sad to lose a special part of our week. He loved those cats. We are however so happy they are safe and we often talk about going in and visiting them!
Hi Candace ... Just checking in on the plans to rebuild - will you require any volunteers ??