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Trumbull AWL hits right note on cat enclosure

Senior feline area carries on Valley woman’s legacy

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple Atilio Core of Mineral Ridge tries to get the attention of one of the senior felines during the dedication of the Brenda S. Groth Senior Feline Living Community at the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County on Saturday. The cat was behind glass living with other cats in the new facility. Brenda Groth of Canfield died Dec. 4, 2019.

VIENNA — Music and an affinity for cats were perhaps Thomas A. Groth and Brenda S. Groth’s, his late wife, two largest passions, so it seems logical that combining the two would strike the right chord.

“Mozart camped on our front porch until he was fed,” Groth, of Canfield, remembered, referring to one of the many such animals the couple housed over the years. “Brenda took in a lot of abandoned cats; other cats found us.”

Groth, the former longtime Boardman High School band director, was humbled his wife’s love for cats has led to a new facility to house older felines, as well as honor and carry on Brenda’s legacy. He was among more than 100 who attended Saturday’s dedication of the Brenda S. Groth Senior Feline Living Community at the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County, 812 Youngstown-Kingsville Road.

Brenda Groth, who was a senior sales consultant for Medical Mutual of Ohio, died Dec. 4, 2019. She was 77.

Groth, who also serves as the Packard Band’s executive director, recalled having added a cat room to his residence that contains a spiral staircase and “condos” for cats, which are painted in a bright, New Orleans style. Some of the cats they adopted were named for jazz musicians such as Alice Coltrane, wife of the legendary tenor and soprano saxophonist John Coltrane.

The brick feline living community at the AWL consists of two 216-square-foot rooms that can hold up to 12 cats each. Installed are perches that allow the animals to peer out the windows, ramped walkways, feeding troughs and square boxes with bedding. Also included are toys, scratching posts and cat trees, noted Lori Shandor, the Animal Welfare League’s chief executive officer.

Construction of the facility was about $65,000, she said, adding it was finished in May 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a dedication ceremony at the time.

Senior cats are classified generally as those 8 and older, Shandor said.

The AWL has taken in more than 700 animals this year, many of which had been abused, neglected or surrendered by their owners; others were strays, she explained, adding the AWL has a partnership with the Trumbull County Dog Pound.

In addition, the enclosure was built to help such cats and “will be here long term and have a positive impact on cats in our community,” Shandor continued.

Groth said a driving force behind creating such a two-room enclosure was to ensure older cats had a place to live a quality life, as well as to have a fitting tribute to his wife’s memory.

“Brenda was relentless about giving cats a good life,” he said.

The project was a labor of love for which each detail was carefully considered, Bob Hotchkiss, president of the AWL board of directors, said.

“Everything was thought out to the nth degree,” he added.

Providing the musical entertainment was the Bravura Woodwind Quintet, which played the famous Louis Armstrong hit “What a Wonderful World,” one of Brenda Groth’s favorite songs.

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