When videos of a kitten and prairie dog went viral, curiosity got the better of us, so we reached out to Mattie Sanders to learn a little more about the Sanders Zoo and how this unusual friendship came about.
Life With Cats: Let’s start with the most obvious question, how did the Sanders Zoo get started?
Mattie Sanders: The Sanders Zoo started with Audubon (turtle) who I have had since I was 8 years old (so he is about 28 years old now) and Chance (white Chihuahua) who is 11. When my husband and I got married I really wanted to get a puppy, but we lived in an apartment, so we settled on getting Watson (ferret) and then the family just grew from there. After Watson, we got Scarlett (German Shorthaired Pointer) and we moved out of the apartment into a shotgun house where we lived for about 6 months until I realized I wanted a home so I could have more animals. Once we moved into our house we got Harvey (grey cat) from Petco when we were running errands and couldn’t resist his cute little face. Eventually, I found out that Prairie Dogs could be kept as pets and I started to do my research and worked on convincing my husband that they needed to be apart of our family. We drove to Kingwood Texas and got Otis and Lilly and after we got them we told ourselves we were complete. However, one day while at the dog park, we found Oscar (Dachshund) roaming around the neighborhood, so we drove around, knocked on doors, called shelters and vets, but no one ever claimed him so he became the next member of the Sanders Zoo. Last, but not least, there is Katrin, she showed up at our CrossFit gym one night. I received a call so we hurried over and took her home with us since she was all alone and there were no other kittens or mom in sight.
LWC: Can you share a bit about the different characters that make up your zoo?
LWC: It seems that your household is quite content and friendly, but it is the friendship that Katrin and Otis that has garnered a lot of attention. How did that relationship blossom?
MS: When we first found Katrin, she was so tiny and scared and I think since Otis was kind of her same size they really connected. Even when Katrin was tiny she would groom Otis and ever since then they just have a really special bond. They also both like to wait by the refrigerator for treats :).
LWC: Why do you think people are fascinated by the pair?
MS: I think people are fascinated by them because they are two totally different species and most likely in the wild they wouldn’t be friends. They are also so sweet to each other that I think that’s surprising to some people.
MS: I really want a white prairie dog but my husband is hesitant on another animal, so we’ll see :).