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Kellie Pickler gets catty for New York charity

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Singer Kellie Pickler helped out at the Meow Mix fundraiser for the Food Bank for New York City last week.

Kellie Pickler took a short break from her current U.S. tour last week to moonlight as a backup singer. Or maybe we should say backup meow-er.

The country star and Albemarle native spent a few hours in New York on Wednesday helping to coax cat lovers into mobile recording studios, where they recorded their own versions of the iconic Meow Mix jingle. For every person who laid down a track, 100 meals were donated to the Food Bank for New York City. (The benefit continued through Saturday, and totals were not available at press time.)

“For those that might need a little encouragement ... I’ll jump in and sing it with them,” Pickler told the Observer before the event, with a laugh. “It’s not a really difficult song to learn. There’s one lyric: ‘Meow.’ So you just say that a bunch and make it your own.”

Pickler, 28, is a huge cat lover who adopted a male kitten at a Nashville animal shelter in 2006, not long after her sixth-place finish on Fox’s “American Idol.” The singer eventually started dating songwriter Kyle Jacobs, which marked the beginning of the end of her relationship with her feline friend, Pickles.

His allergic reaction to the cat was bad enough that he developed asthma over the course of their courtship, Pickler says. Before they were married and moved in together, she had to give up Pickles for adoption.

“It was the husband or the cat,” Pickler said. “But luckily we have a great home for Pickles. He’s actually with friends in North Carolina. He’s on a farm, and he is happy. He’s like Garfield, but a farm cat. But it’s really hard. I can’t see pictures of him or I’ll start crying, and then my husband feels bad.”

“I am that crazy cat lady,” she continued. “If my husband was not allergic to cats, we’d probably have a houseful of cats.”

Instead, Pickler pours her love for animals into the couple’s two hypo-allergenic puppies – Peanut (a Maltese) and Pixie (a Chinese Crested) – and whatever else she can sneak into the house without upsetting Jacobs’nervous system.

“I’ve rescued several animals,” she said. “My husband never knows when my bus pulls up at the house if a critter’s gonna come crawling off the bus and have to stay with us till we find a home for it. But I’m notorious for trying to find homes for stray dogs or cats or whatever. We’ve taken raccoons, snakes – everything you can think of.”

If you want to sing the Meow Mix jingle yourself, you can do so at www.itsmeowtime.com. Submissions will enter you into a contest for a trip to Hollywood to make a Meow Mix music video.

Janes: 704-358-5897; Twitter: @theodenjanes
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