Teenage Sewing Project Helps Shelter Cats

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Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Most teenage girls spend the first few weeks of summer vacation at the mall or beach.  One 13-year old decided to turn her house into a sewing factory and make cat beds for a local shelter.

When Bliss Fisher, Mendocino County Director of Animal Control, found a unique pattern on the UC Davis Shelter Medicine website, she showed it to Julie Knudsen, a volunteer at Anderson Valley Animal Rescue.  She knew the beds would be perfect for that site. The pattern showed how to make a simple raised cat bed by buckling sturdy fabric onto a PVC frame.   As soon as Knudsen saw the pattern, she immediately thought of Ukiah teen Hailey Vanz.

“She took this on with no hesitation,” says Julie Vanz, Hailey’s mom. “It took awhile for her to let her sisters help! She wanted to do it all herself.” But soon Mom, Dad, and both sisters jumped in and became involved.

“Each bed takes about an hour to make,” says Hailey, explaining how the snaps are affixed to separate squares of fabric before being sewn on, so the cats’ fur won’t get caught. “The snaps are actually really hard to put in! You have to pound them. My dad does that part.”

Hailey, hoping the new beds will help make the cages at the shelter more comfortable, said,  “I think it will be funner for the cats to be able to jump up and down and play a little bit more,” she says. Knudsen added, “It gets them off the cold ground.”

The enthusiasm for the cat beds was contagious and it wasn’t long before others in the community lent a hand.  Jim Mayfield of Rainbow Ag provided the PVC pipe at cost, while Brian and Fran Dorsett and Drew Wallace of Iron Paddock Upholstery donated the fabric.

The beds will be completed in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime Knudsen told the family about a pair of kittens that was found at the dump. The girls jumped at the chance to foster them.

These are the first cats the Vanz family has fostered.  The pair, named Gracey and Bianca, play in Hailey’s room as she and her sisters continue work on the beds. The babies constantly remind them why they are doing all this hard work. “We give them baths, trim their nails, play with them while we’re watching TV. We carry them everywhere we go.”

As the Vanz girls work, little Gracey climbs onto one of the finished beds, curls up and instantly falls asleep. “Look!” says Hailey. “She likes it!”

8 thoughts on “Teenage Sewing Project Helps Shelter Cats”

  1. wonderful! What a fun project. (and somehow I don’t think those kittens are going to end up as just foster kittens. I think they are home 🙂

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