Two animal rescue organizations focused on the adoption of cats and kittens in the Baton Rouge area are merging, according to Peggy Polk, founder of Project Purr BR, and Wendy Decker, founder of Cat Haven.

“Our missions are so similar, it seemed like the perfect fit,” Decker said. “We are about to renovate another part of our building so we have space.”

Cat Haven’s volunteers already keep the adoption house staffed and open for adoptions every day except Sunday, Decker added. The addition of the Project Purr volunteer staff eventually will allow the combined organization, which will operate under the name Cat Haven, to stay open seven days a week.

“We’re all very excited about the possibilities,” Polk said. Cat Haven, open since 1999, brings much experience in animal rescue to the table, she said, and both organizations will be able to do more good by combining resources.

Officially, the transition is already in progress, Decker said. The first meeting of the combined groups was earlier this month, and the new, seven-day-a-week hours of operation for the Cat Haven Adoption House will begin Dec. 1.

Both organizations are committed to bringing Baton Rouge closer to a no-kill policy when it comes to homeless cats and dogs, Decker said.

Both women agree the attempt to turn the animal shelter into a no-kill shelter brought awareness to how rampant the problem of abandoned and stray animals is in Baton Rouge.

“I volunteered for Cat Haven before I started Project Purr,” said Polk, who founded Project Purr BR in 2010. “I still had no idea what kind of problem we had until I started going into the shelters myself.”

But, Decker said, the sharp rise in the number of animal rescue groups likely can be directly attributed to awareness, and her organization has seen a commiserate rise in cat and kitten adoptions.

“Just looking at the past three or four years alone, you can see it. In 2010, we adopted out somewhere in the 300s. In 2015, we are so close to 1,000 adoptions, I’m fairly certain we will get to 1,000 this year. We had 57 adoptions in October alone. The month before that, 92, 101,” she said.

The newer, larger Cat Haven is always looking for volunteers, adopters and donations. To adopt, Cat Haven’s adoption house is located at 11130 N. Harrell’s Ferry Road, any day except Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

Adoption volunteers and cats are also available every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Petco on Siegen Lane and PetSmart’s Millerville Road location, and at the Baton Rouge Arts Market, held on the first Saturday of every month in conjunction with the farmers market in downtown Baton Rouge, from 8 a.m. to noon.

Cat Haven’s 14th annual Cat Tales and Cocktails Gala fundraiser, the “Cat-illion,”is from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4728 Constitution Ave. The gala helps the organization reach its yearly goals. Whitney Vann will host the program, and food and entertainment will be provided for the ticket price.

To buy tickets, visit Cat Haven’s website, cathaven.org/mews-news-events/event-calendar/the-cat-illion-cat- havens-14th-cat-tales-cocktails-gala.