One of two kittens the seniors are looking after. Photo by Terra Emerson.
A bell jingles. Two pairs of curious eyes look towards the sound. One cat crawls forwards and claws at the feather wand.
For two weeks, nine seniors fostered a litter of kittens as their capstone project. They named their project Kitten Kuddling.
“We wanted to raise dogs because they have a more therapeutic thing about them,” Patricia Mallard (12) said. “However, our partner, the Austin Humane Society needed help with kittens because they had too many.”
The kittens were kept in the Audio-Visual (AV) room in the library.Students and teachers were welcome to go hold the cats when there was a Kitten Kuddling senior present. Kitten Kuddling was open most days during lunch, and students could also sign-up to see them for a “playdate”.
“We were hoping the cats could be used as a stress reliever, because when you see kittens, you kind of go ‘Aww,’ and feel calmer and feel happy that you are with cats,” Mallard said.
Students could pet, play and watch the kittens in their cage. When they first met the kittens, they could figure out their likes and dislikes.
“I like how they licked people,” Symantha Smith (7) said. “It was really strange, but it was cool because you get to see how they live.”
Lots of students went to see the kittens, and said they enjoyed the experience.
“My favorite part was getting to see how they interact,” Nora Willis (7) said. “Playing with them and getting to holding them made you feel calmer and more zen.”
Even though they originally wanted to raise dogs, the seniors feel that raising the kittens filled their roles in both helping the students and the Austin Humane Society.
“I think we did reach our goal of people understanding that the kittens were in there to help The Austin Humane Society, but also for the girls to go see them and give themselves a little bit of playtime,” Mallard said.