Like a lot of people, Beth Pearce grew up afraid of cats. Her family never owned any cats and she was never around them, so naturally the unfamiliar frightened her. Fast forward to 2020 and Pearce now spends her days around dozens of felines, serving as director of Stay-A-While Cat Shelter (formerly Bide-A-Wee, Scottish for “stay-a-while) in North Royalton.
Pearce was there to celebrate July 21 as the shelter officially broke ground on a new facility set to open by spring of next year on York Delta Drive. The news is the cat’s pajamas for Pearce and her dedicated team of part-time employees and volunteers.
“I started here in 1995 as a volunteer and I remember the director then saying we needed things like a new roof and a new structure for the cats, so really for more than 25 years we’ve needed a new building,” Pearce said, whose love of cats stemmed from a job she once took at a boarding kennel early in her career (“I love how they are so individual, and I also love how they do not live to please you, but they live to see how we are going to please them – that cracks me up” she jokingly noted.)
The new cat shelter, which is being constructed at 12662 York Delta Drive in the Industrial Parkway, will require a big move from their current longtime home on Akins Road, which quite literally was designed as a residential home, not a cat shelter. Over the years, Pearce said that people have stopped in to tell her that they used to be former residents of the Akins Road home, which now has roughly 80 kitties in designated sections of the structure. It was about two years ago that Stay-A-While Cat Shelter decided that the time had come to seriously pursue the building of a new structure that will be laid out to run more efficiently as a cat shelter.
“We have two very dedicated volunteers who bought simple design software from a home improvement store and started doing mock-ups at home on their home computers. They would design something and bring it in on paper for us to all look at and review,” Pearce said. “We all kind of figured we really only had one chance in our lifetimes to build a new shelter and we wanted to do it right and design the interior with the cats’ best interests in mind. We also had to make it feasible for humans to clean it and keep it in top-notch cleanliness condition. The two volunteers have no architectural education, but they did the majority of this work, and even our architect was impressed at what they created.”
Renderings of the new shelter are available to view on Stay-A-While Cat Shelter’s website, According to a fundraising campaign graphic on their website, $900,000 has been raised for the new shelter – a total of $1.5 million (which includes the cost of buying the land) is desired. The fundraising campaign has included mailers and various sponsorship opportunities still available. On July 21, those connected to the cause gathered at the shelter’s future site on York Delta Drive to officially commemorate its groundbreaking.
“After being here myself for 25 years, you know, you feel like you’re not going to see it in your lifetime,” Pearce said of the groundbreaking. “When I was driving to the ceremony, my emotions were all over the place. It’s very bittersweet for me because Akins is where we all started. We have a very low turnover here of employees and volunteers because this truly is a labor of love for all of us. These are people who are working here or volunteering here because they simply love cats, they love our mission, they believe in it, and they love what we do here.”

Contributing Writer