What propelled Kit into the cat “Hall of Fame” happened when For the Love of Cats volunteer Sammy Miller brought her friend Deb Crine to the shelter.

Crine, an acclaimed artist, was looking for a cat inspiration for her new quilt project.

According to Miller, it was love at first sight when Deb and Kit met.

“It is as if Kit told Deb his story and magic happened,” said Miller.

A student volunteer at the shelter took several photographs of Kit for Crine, who worked from the photograph to create the amazing quilt of Kit.

As the old saying goes, everyone has a story to tell, and most people might agree that every animal has a story, too. No one can tell those stories better than the 70 dedicated volunteers who show up every morning and evening to care for rescued cats and kittens at For the Love of Cats, the Marco Island-based local no-kill shelter.

Shelter founders Jim and Jan Rich will be the first to admit that the volunteers are vital for the survival of the shelter and its feline residents. Shelter manager Linda Levine, secretary Lisa Honig, treasurer Ruth Tobie, board member Bobbie Confer and all three daily shifts of revolving volunteers provide assistance.

An 11 year-old Maine Coon named Kit was surrendered by his owner in 2008 when the man lost his job and could no longer care for him. Kit was diabetic, had a serious food disorder and was no spring kitten. The shelter became his forever home.

The longhaired arrival with beautiful green eyes, settled into his new home. His gentle personality warmed the hearts of all the volunteers. Kit took his role of ambassador seriously as he welcomed all the volunteers, following them around watching as they emptied litter boxes, fed all the cats in the shelter, filled drinking bowls and all the other jobs that needed doing. Volunteers are rewarded every time they hear a kitten purr or see an abandoned cat safe and well-fed.

When the quilt was completed in 2011, Crine entered it in a couple national art shows, where it won special awards. The quilt traveled the quilt show circuit with Crine and is also featured on her website.

When Sammy and Phil Miller found out that the quilt of Kit was available for purchase, they were overjoyed. “We pooled our funds and brought “Kit” home where he is in our house and our heart,” said Sammy Miller. Kit lived his days and years out at the shelter, leaving his legacy in the hearts of those that cared for him. His bright green eyes and distinctive Maine Coon face now adorn their wall for all who come through the Millers’ home and hear his story. Deb had portrayed Kit in a whimsical mix of vibrant blues, greens, orange, black and muted whites.

Volunteers, Sammy Miller, Maria Lamb and Karina Paape, who all help care for all the cats at the shelter, collectively have 24 volunteer years, together. Inspired by Kit, they came up with a plan to raise funds for special needs cat like Kit. Volunteers fulfill a very important role – they are the voices of rescued cats residing in thousands of shelters across the country.

Within minutes of arriving at the shelter, every cat and kitten gets a name, and complete physical.

Many of the cats are undernourished, scared confused and some with severe physical and mental trauma. Siena, a small fuzzy 6-week old kitten, was recently found on a median in the middle of a busy road. Alanna, another shelter kitten, was found in the parking lot of Fresh Market. A kitten now called Magic was thrown off the Goodland Bridge and rescued by a runner passing by.

If Kit could talk, he might say something like this.

“Cats with special needs like me need love, we need loving homes, and in turn, we have a lot to give back, just give us a chance.”

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