Kitties in a storefront window have become quite an attraction in downtown Concord.
The cats and kittens are temporary residents of Kitty City, part of Cabarrus CARES (Coalition of Animal Rescue Efforts and Services). Kitty City provides pet ownership education and cat and dog adoption services at its downtown office.
Patsy Beeker, president of Cabarrus CARES, calls Kitty City a "magical, mystical place." Cats and kittens frequently are brought out for exercise and to visit with guests, many of whom are cheered after spending some time with the animals.
A cancer survivor recently stopped by, looking sad. She wanted to "love on some animals," Beeker said.
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"She left with the biggest grin on her face," Beeker said. "We see such wonderful things happen with the animals, but such wonderful things happen with people."
As many as 90 cats and kittens, plus a few dogs, live in kennels at Kitty City. Beeker gets the animals from veterinarians and humane organizations and accepts some drop-offs. Up to 500 animals are adopted from the agency annually.
Beeker said the nonprofit loses money on every animal, as Kitty City pays for vaccines, tests and spaying or neutering for each one. Sterilizing cats prevents the births of thousands of kittens each year, she said.
Kitty City also opens for visits from groups such as senior citizens, children with special needs or people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
"Some are terrified, when they come in, to hold a cat or a dog," Beeker said. "They get that comfort zone going, and it just gives you goose bumps."
Beeker recently brought on someone to work four hours a day so Kitty City can host more groups.
The educational component has grown since the organization was started in 2005. Leaders work in five counties, teaching children everything from responsible pet ownership, to handling a dog attack, to what to do if they find a kitten.
Kitty City offers many opportunities for the community to get involved, whether through donations or volunteering.
Right now it needs donations of gently used animal accessories such as toys, carriers and scratching posts; cleaning products, especially for mopping floors; old towels and washcloths; paper towels; newspapers for lining cages; coffee, tea and soda for group visits; office supplies; bottled water; stamps; copier paper; and hand sanitizer.
If it had more foster homes for dogs, Kitty City could expand its dog program, Beeker said.
Volunteers are needed to teach pet and animal education programs in schools; to clean Kitty City; to fold newsletters and do other office work; to help with fundraisers; to trap and release animals; and to transport animals.
Beeker said she's always looking for people who live in rural areas to adopt cats.