Call from couple sends Dana Lionel to Oregon City

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: CLIFF NEWELL - Dana Lionel will be offering a cupboard full of kittens to lucky cat lovers on Saturday at Kittenfest at 342 SW B Avenue in Lake Oswego. The adoption event will be held from noon to 4 p.m.There is a large china cabinet at Oregon Cat Project’s headquarters in Lake Oswego, and its contents are quite unusual.

Instead of cups, saucers and plates on display, there are lots of kittens peering out through the glass on several shelves, with air holes drilled into every door. All of them were rescued last week from a giant housing complex in Oregon City by Dana Lionel, who just may be Oregon’s greatest cat rescuer.

Lionel says her previous record for a rescue operation was set a few years ago, when she rescued 55 orange cats. But “I expect we’ll rescue 100 cats from this neighborhood,” she said. “It’s going to take me awhile.”

Lionel’s latest heroics began when a cat-loving husband and wife called her about a large group of feral cats running around their neighborhood in Oregon City. Lionel rescued 19 of those cats after they had been taken to a kill shelter in Coos County.

“I want to partner with them to end the euthanasia of healthy, perfect cats,” Lionel said. “It’s easier to kill them. But Coos County cares enough about the cats to deliver them here, just to save their lives.”

On Monday, Lionel was back at it again. She had heard nasty rumors that cats were being starved to death or beaten with iron pipes. So she returned to Oregon City to trap more cats and bring them back to her little house on B Avenue in Lake Oswego.

“I’d like to see public awareness raised about this,” Lionel said. “There are other solutions out there” besides killing cats.

Lionel’s “home for hard luck cats” has found families for more than 3,000 cats since it opened five years ago. But that’s only a drop in the bucket compared to what she hopes to achieve. Plans are on the board for purchasing a 50-acre farm near Salem, Lionel said, and turning it into a giant cat center where cats will be saved, restored to health, neutered and put up for adoption.

When her new facility is ready, Lionel said, she expects to save 4,000 to 5,000 cats a year. And anyone who knows Lionel — who has had several successful careers in the past — knows this isn’t just some wild idea.

Lionel’s love for cats is so great that she is willing to perform the humblest tasks or even take risks. She is now sporting a scar from her wrist to her elbow that was made by a scared pregnant cat she was trying to help. The momma cat and Lionel are now good friends.

“I lost the battle, but I won the war,” she said.

Lionel said she wouldn’t be doing so well on her cat crusade if she didn’t have a lot of help from the citizens of Lake Oswego. Her thrift shop, where all the profits go to help cats, is doing excellent business. Some of the money will go toward creating more space in her house, she said.

“I need more space,” Lionel said. “Some of these cats will never be going home with anyone, so I need space.”

Lionel has scheduled a special adoption event for Saturday; all kittens will be sold at half price. The Oregon Cat Project is located at 342 SW B Ave. in Lake Oswego. For more information, go to

Evidently, cats no longer need nine lives. They just need to know Dana Lionel.

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