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Help Homeless Shelter Cats With Your Craft Skills

By Brad Kloza

Help Homeless Shelter Cats With Your Craft Skills

It was 1995 when Rae French, founder of the Snuggles Project, stepped foot in an animal shelter for the first time. A blackboard with statistics hung on the wall. The data showed some dismal odds: Only 24 percent of cats that enter an animal shelter are adopted, and 71 percent are euthanized.

French was there to hand over a local stray she sometimes fed that was about to give birth. It was a Siamese cat, so French figured the feline and its kittens would be adoptable.

After seeing the statistics, “I turned to my husband and said, ‘I can't. Let's just take her home,’” says French. But saving just a few of the millions of cats that enter shelters each year didn’t seem like enough. “That knowledge was just so overwhelming, and I had to do something about it,” she says.

The Snuggles Project
Seeing the kittens born reminded French of the time her first cat, Fuzzy, had babies. Fuzzy died shortly after childbirth, and French desperately wanted to save the babies.

“When Fuzzy died and left those kittens, I put them in a little box and wrapped them with scraps of things I was knitting to keep them warm,” says French.

Even though French couldn’t save the kittens, she noticed that the blankets seemed to comfort them. At the time, she was running an online crocheting group with 2,000 members worldwide, so she logged on and told her story. She asked if anyone would like to make and donate a security blanket (what she called a “snuggle”) for shelter animals. To her surprise, boxes started arriving from across the globe, and the Snuggles Project was born.

The project helps people create and donate snuggles to local animal shelters in their area. To date, more than 500,000 snuggles have been donated to animal shelters worldwide. The blankets offer cats something soft and warm to curl up on rather than bare steel, concrete or plastic. Beyond that, French believes snuggles provide much needed psychological comfort that can literally save cats’ lives.

“Often, when scared cats get a snuggle, they calm down, stabilize and the shelter people see that they can be adoptable,” she says.

How to Help Save Shelter Cats

  1. Make a snuggle. You can crochet, knit or sew the blanket, with as simple or ornate a pattern as you prefer. Pattern ideas are available on snugglesproject.org. Once it’s done, search the project’s worldwide animal shelter directory to find a participating animal shelter near you. Then, fill out an online donation form (to update the project’s records and get a tax-deductible receipt sent to you). Last, bring the snuggle to the animal shelter.
  2. Donate a store-bought blanket in the name of the Snuggles Project. You can donate your time and energy by promoting the project through grassroots or word-of-mouth marketing, or by encouraging non-participating animal shelters to sign on. If a local animal shelter won’t sign on because they can’t afford to regularly clean snuggles, you could offer to clean them yourself.

You might get involved with Hugs for Homeless Animals, the nonprofit that French started to run both the Snuggles Project and other initiatives that support shelters and find homes for animals. Barring all that, you could donate money.

“With the economic situation, it's getting worse,” says French. “Shelters don’t have the budgets, they cut back and crowding is a big problem because people lose their houses and abandon their animals. So money is always a big help.”

Brad Kloza is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Discover. He is a frequent contributor to The Daily Cat.


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Posted on October 24, 2010

Tam says: I have precious ones of my own that are like family, and have a quilt shoppe from home b/c I was disabled by someone over a decade ago but since I found places to donate quilts for military kids and little ones in the hospitals and the homeless that need donations;I've only just found this place but the closest places that take them are a county either east or west of me and I can get them there. Is it possible to mail them to the shelters in either of those counties? I always am picking up fleece remnants to give mine for blankies they love'em just unfolded and nested up I don't even have to make them into a blankie but that's them. If I could mail the snuggies to a shelter I would save pieces to a bin labled for them also and make them as I can and send them. thx.

Posted on May 2, 2010

Michelle Schnittker says: My name is Michelle.Since I heard of the snuggle project ,I got a friend involved as well.We collecting fabric scraps from where ever we can get it from.Once a month we going to thrift stores and buy fleece and flannel blankets and sheets.We cut them up and make them into thick blankies and beds for the cats/dogs and what ever moves.We sell our crafts at craft shows and the money we donate to shelters.It is so rewarding,it has become a fulltime job for me .Who ever has any time to spare ,join in .The look in the animals eyes once they get to snuggle up in these blankets will stay with you forever. Michelle

Posted on August 25, 2010

Marie Wildman says: would help if you gave approximate dimensions - even if it's just minimum/maximum size - so readers would have a better sense of what's needed.

Posted on September 6, 2010

Nancy says: I make Snuggles and bring them to my local shelter. Any size from lap size to afghan size is appreciated.

Posted on October 9, 2010

Sheila says: Sizes for snuggles are given on the Snuggles website.

Posted on October 19, 2010

Holly says: Hello everyone! I got a little 'verklempt' when I read this article- what a wonderful thing you all are doing! I have been working in animal shelters for over 5 years and I am still amazed at the kindness and support the community gives us. My job is very difficult because the disparity between unwanted animals and welcoming homes is too much for any shelter to deal with. For all those big hearts out there- please focus on the importance of spaying and neuturing in your community- that is what will make this world a better place for our furry friends. In the meantime- keep up the good work! Shelters across the country NEED your help!

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