High School Senior Julia Weinke Designs and Builds a World of Fun for Cats at the Un-Cats Feline Rescue Sanctuary

When Glen Lake senior Julia Weinke was given the assignment of doing a senior project that impacts another life, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. It was a project that she had always had in mind. She wanted to build an amazing cat tree (and shelves) for the cats at the Un-Cats Feline Rescue organization. Having made cat trees for her own cats, she knew it was something she could take on – but in a much bigger way! It is widely known in the cat rescue field that having “cat enrichment” in animal shelters and in rescue groups helps the cats be much more stress free, fight with each other less and in the end they are more adoptable because they are more happy and content.

The Glen Lake Senior Project required at least 25 hours and the students would need to choose a mentor who they are not directly related to. Weinke said, “As far as I know Glen Lake Community Schools is the only school that requires this project to pass English 12. This is the only assignment that we work on in the last quarter of the year there is a binder that goes along with the process as well as two brief essays and then one final reflection essay.”


Mandie with Un-Cats helped Julia with information as to what the cats in the sanctuary liked and Julia’s dad Jeffry helped her cut the wood and carpet the tree. Even though Julia recorded her 25 hours on the project, it took at least 40 to actually complete the cat tree. The project was all made at her home and was brought into the Un-Cats sanctuary. It only took five minutes to put it together and another five minutes to put up the cat shelves. In addition to receiving help from her parents, she also went around to local businesses who cut their prices down a bit when she told them about the project she was working on and who it was for.

For those who don’t know about the group, Un-Cats is a cat rescue organization and sanctuary. They focus primarily on cats with Feline Leukemia Virus (Felv) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).

Both of these viruses can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system and the cats should be monitored carefully by their owner and a veterinarian. Normally, these cats are euthanized in animal shelters and by owners who are not educated well enough about these diseases. The good news is that these cats are often healthy enough to be able to be adopted out, especially to someone who is planning on having a one-cat household.




uncatsshelves Julia became aware of Un-Cats when she was a freshman in high school when she needed volunteer hours for her Civics class at Glen Lake. She knew before that time that she wanted to do volunteer work. She just hadn’t figured out where. Un-Cats turned out to be a good fit for Julia who has a “zoo” of her own which includes three cats, two dogs and a rabbit. Her third cat was actually a feral cat who showed up on her family’s back deck. Mandie and Amy from Un-Cats had helped Julia and her family trap the cat for the TNR program (trap-neuter-release) but years later, he is sleeping in their beds and turned out to be a real sweetheart.

Zoey and Smore

Zoey and Smore

Julia's kitty Fusha and a friend

Julia’s kitty Fusha and a friend

The members and founders of Un-Cats are very grateful for Julia’s additions to their sanctuary and thank her for all her hard work on the project. And so do the cats!


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