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By Chris Frost
Ventura-- As we get started on the holiday shopping season, one way to get that list handled and do something terrific for an important local organization, is to shop through Cassie's Cats Pop-Up Shop.
Shoppers got to choose from hand-sewn and knit cat teats, jewelry, catnip, and, of course, a new cat bed for your whiskery friend.
Cassie's Cats continues to raise money to open a cat lounge and adoption center in Ventura.
Group Founder Jennifer Thompson ran the Pop-Up Shop and said her group raised about $5,000 towards its goal so far.
"We're moving right along," she said. "We know, to open a place, we're going to need first and last month's rent for security, plus any improvements and furnishing the space. "With rents in midtown Ventura, we think that $6,000 would be good for the first couple of months. It's a big undertaking, but we're at about $5,000 right now."
Jennifer and her group keep recruiting volunteers who share her passion for cats and giving them forever homes.
"We were excited to start moving forward; then the county moved back to purple," she said. "We can't open responsibly in this climate. We can't start a new business and new non-profit, so we keep waiting."
She's met with a commercial real estate broker who will help the group negotiate a lease and look at properties.
"He's going to make sure we get the best deal we can," she said. "He's a nice guy from Oxnard."
Jennifer keeps busy and just took in four new cats.
"We adopted a momma cat and her three kittens," she said. "The little ones are one day old. Their momma is named "Storm," and the babies are named "Rain," "Cloud," and "Hurricane." That brings my fostering total up to about 19 this year of cats and kittens I've taken in and helped save. They're always getting into something. When I'm sitting on the couch working on my laptop, my oldest cat, "Sumi," comes and sits next to me and rests a paw on my leg. It's good company."
With all those cats, she goes through a lot of cat litter, cat food, and does a lot of laundry.
"We have an Amazon wish list that I posted yesterday that we updated it with food for the cats that we've brought in," she said. "As of this morning, two cases of wet food and two big bags of dry food have already been sent. I don't know who did it. They're supporters."
Jennifer finds their kindness gratifying.
"It tells me there are people out there who want to see this succeed," she said. "We're giving people an opportunity to be giving and do something outside of themselves. That makes me feel good."
One thing the Covid-19 lockdown has done is give her plenty of time to make cat Christmas presents.
"I have been sewing many masks," she said. "Before today, I sold a little over 100 masks. I have been making bow ties for cats, little kicker toys for cats that are stuffed with stuffing, so they can bat at them. I've been knitting little stuffed hearts for the kitties to play with, and I've tried my hand at crocheting a couple of cat beds."
She's also growing and drying catnip.
"I make jewelry, little tiny filled cat toys, you name it, I've tried my hand at it," she said.
Jennifer retired from teaching two years ago, and she called that good timing with Covid-19.
"I'm a college counselor part-time, and that work can be done through Zoom meetings and online," she said. "I do private math tutoring, as well. I've got a system set up and have a camera set up, so they can see what I'm writing. It's more mentally difficult than anything."
If you're looking for a cool and unique Christmas present, Jennifer says to check out the Cassie's Cats online shop.
"We have masks for women, men, and children," she said. "We have jewelry for adults, and we have lots of cat toys. They make great stocking stuffers. If you don't have a cat, but someone you love has a cat, you can shop for them. This is all part of our fundraising effort. All of the materials and time are donated. Nobody is making any money from Cassie's Cats, and we have no paid employees."
For more information and lots of cool gift ideas, visit cassiescatsandkittens.org.