I have a confession. I…am…a…cat lover. There. I said it. No offense to dogs, which I also love (even a certain sweet, hyperactive Cairn terrier that would rather chase a ball for an hour than spend five minutes on my lap), but if I had to make the pet version of Sophie’s Choice, I’d be crying as I handed off man’s best friend.
My 14-year-old daughter is also a cat person, which is why, continuing a tradition we started last year, she asked several friends to join us in celebration of her birthday to pick up, pet and listen to the purrs of the twenty or so felines housed at the The Cat’s Meow.
And I mean that “housed” part literally. Our animal shelter experience was primarily at WAIF in Oak Harbor, where we’ve been several times to visit kitties. Proceeds from the sale of items at the adjacent WAIF Thrift Store, our chosen donation location, support the shelter, which is traditional with a twist: it contains a large windowed room filled with toys where cats can play and roam free. The Cat’s Meow, located at 803 4th Street in Anacortes, takes the idea of non-traditional to a whole new level. It provides shelter for about 20 cats inside and the same number outside (in an enclosure) of a house about 1,600 square feet in size. Proceeds from the sale of items at Thrifty Kitty support the shelter.
Shelly, one of the shelter’s three employees greeted our group and told us a little bit about it. Cats are placed in specific rooms based on, I guess you might say, personality and ability to get along with others. Downstairs rooms allow cat door access to an enclosed area outside. Each of the six rooms has a slightly different color decor and typically contains: a comfortable couch with pillows, a kitty condo and a cupboard with litter boxes inside.
We were asked to help keep cats in their assigned rooms and started greeting the kitties that live downstairs.
Most cats were happy to get attention, like Harlow, who was covered with the softest fur.
A few were shy.
Girls started petting. Cats started purring.
After we’d had some time with the inhabitants of the downstairs, we headed upstairs, where there were three more rooms, plus an area for cats receiving medical care.
It was impossible not to want to take an animal home. In fact, one teenager asked if she could call her uncle to try to talk him into adopting a super cute, friendly three-legged kitty. Another returned repeatedly to the first room where she sat to snuggle one groomed like a lion while Sugar hung around purring, hoping for a turn at petting.
Even the most reluctant participant, who’d had a negative experience with a cat as a child, gave cat petting a try. Two teens asked the employee about volunteering and promised to return. The hardest thing was getting the girls out the door because they kept wandering back to give their favorite feline one last pet.