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Feline fun: Kids read to cats during library’s summer program

By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post

Who knew cats loved books?

More than a dozen children participating in Rowan Public Library’s Summer Reading Program read to the furry creatures on Thursday afternoon at Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary.

The library and the sanctuary are partnering for the program, which runs through July 21. Children can bring their own books, bring a library book, or select a book from the shelf at the sanctuary.

The program is a big hit with kids and cats alike.

Jennifer Eagle and her daughter Kierstin, 9, a fourth-grader at Granite Quarry Elementary School, read about the program on Facebook.

I thought, how fun!” said Eagle, a fourth-grade teacher at Granite Quarry. “We packed up some donations and were on our way.”

The Eagles brought paper towels, bleach and pet toys.

Tereysha Robles, office administrator, set out the gifts and took mom and daughter’s photo in front of a huge banner that said, “Readers are leaders.”

The children who came on Thursday had plenty of cats to visit.

Faithful Friends is hosting 41 cats and kittens and is at capacity, said director Mary Padavick.

We’ve had requests to parents to bring their children to come and read here,” she said. “It’s no secret that the more visibility we have, the more people we have in, and the more animals we have adopted. Word-of-mouth is out best advertising, so this program is good exposure.”

Since seven kittens came in last Saturday, the dog visiting room has been temporarily converted to a kitten room, Padavick said. Smokey, a beautiful gray declawed cat, has been holding court in the cat visiting room, with eight cats in the adult cat room.

But Smokey and his roommate, Davis, are being adopted next week, Padavick said, so that room will be open — at least temporarily.

We get a little creative,” Padavick said, gesturing to dog and cat areas set up in the lobby.

Cats are separated by age, so there’s also a “teenager room” with cats ages eight months to about 2 years of age.

These younger cats especially loved having the children read to them on Thursday. They crowded around Kierstin, as well as Lynn Frank and her boys, Tony, 9, and Nick, 6. The boys are students are Sacred Heart School, where their mom is librarian.

We’ve been out here a couple of times with our Cub Scout group,” Frank said.

She tries to have her boys read 20 minutes a day in the summer, she said. “But it’s hit or miss. So this is a nice little incentive. It never occurred to me to have my kids read to animals.

Meanwhile, in the kitten room, Cameron and Claire Nance, 8 and 6, respectively, had a ball with the young animals.

They had brought in a tiny calico kitten, Callie, the week before, said their mom Mandy.

She just showed up,” Nance said. “We live in Woodleaf, and we used to foster animals. I think people just know where the animal people are in our neighborhood.”

In the adult cat room, cats and girls surrounded Kelly Fesperman. She heard about the program from Robert Jones, children’s librarian at Rowan Public Library, and brought her daughters, Lily, 7½, and Olivia 4½, along with their friends, Josie Fesperman, 7½, and Mia Sutton, 8.

Next door, Eva Bolin, 6, and her mom, Carmony Hartung, were reading to Smokey.

I think this is great,” Hartung said. She and her daughter were meeting other library friends at Faithful Friends.

I love cats and books!” Eva said.

A little later, cousins Zelda McCoy, 9, and Gracie Spieler, almost 9, also had a chance to read to Smokey. They brought their own cat-themed books from home.

We rescued two dogs from here,” said Gracie’s mom, Michelle. “We’ve very fond of Faithful Friends. I like this program. This gives the girls something to do, and occupies a little of the kitties’ time, too.”

Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary is located at 220 Grace Church Road. For more information about the Summer Reading Program, call 704-633-1722 or visit www.faithfulfriendsnc.org.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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