Animal Hero of the Month: Cassie Packard

After being inspired by another foster parent, one woman reignited her passion for cats. Meet Cassie Packard, our September Animal Hero of the Month winner.

Cassie and one of her many foster kittens.
Cassie and one of her many foster kittens.

Our Animal Hero of the Month award winner for September is Cassie Packard of Cassie’s Kitten Castle in Woodstock, Connecticut.

Cassie started watching John Bartlett’s kitten cam during the fostering of Miranda McKitten and her kittens, which was around the same time I found the addictive live video feed. Although she did not remember volunteering at a local shelter when she was much younger, it seemed John’s fostering ignited the passion she had long forgotten.

The Nomination

Cassie’s nomination was sent in by Jeananne Bargholz:

I would like to nominate Cassie Packard for the Animal Hero of the Month Award because she is one of many special people who open their homes to fostering kittens. I became aware of Ms. Packard through her FaceBook page where she dutifully chronicles her trials and tribulations in her attempts to raise semi-feral kittens. Her goal is to break through their wildness in order for them to become adoptable, loving pets.

Ms. Packard’ clever, well-written posts give her readers incentive and hope. She teaches her “followers” about fostering as much as she teaches and cares for her kittens. I have followed other foster pages that make fostering sound easy. Ms. Packard is frank about the difficulties yet, brilliantly funny about the successes.

I applaud her for her efforts, and I think you will applaud her as well.

Having being bitten with the fostering bug, she searched for local shelters in Connecticut and came upon P.A.W.S. (Pound Animals Are Worth Saving), a shelter and rescue in Woodstock, Connecticut. She was interested in a mother cat and kittens a co-worker said were living outside her relative’s house. She captured the kittens and later the mother cat and started fostering them after they were evaluated and treated at the shelter. The kittens were later called the M*A*S*H* kittens and named Trapper, Houlihan, Hawkeye and Radar.

Cassie can have between a few and a lot of fosters at one time.
Cassie can have between a few and a lot of fosters at one time.

This brood was followed by the Princess Kittens which included mother cat Fiona and kittens Thumbilina, Jasmine, Tiger Lily and Buttercup. Another group of fosters came in, and it seemed Cassie’s help was needed more than ever. As the kittens were weaned and fixed (spayed or neutered), they headed off to adoption events through P.A.W.S. to find permanent homes. Buttercup was lucky enough to be added to Cassie’s foster fail list, and she became a permanent member of her family. However, she would not be the last cat to pass through the Kitten Castle.

A man was walking along train tracks and found an unusual box. The box was closed and held secure by a board and a rock placed on top to keep it from opening. To his shock the box contained not just a cat, but a very pregnant cat. He tried to take care of her, but his own pets did not respond well to the new addition. He called P.A.W.S., and they took her in just before she gave birth. Fairlie she was named, and she and her kittens were headed to Cassie’s house.

Shortly after Fairlie’s kittens found permanent homes, Fairlie unfortunately did not survive a spay surgery (due to an undiscovered illness, not the operation). This loss was disheartening to Cassie, but she knew she had to keep her heart and home open to the many felines that desperately needed a second chance. It is for this reason, and so many more, that Cassie is being honored today.

Prizes

Here’s what our Animal Hero of the Month award winners receive:

  • Winners will receive a Animal Hero of the Month medal.A feature article (you’re reading it)
  • Social media mentions across all of our platforms
  • A permanent spot on the list of winners
  • Our custom, engraved gold-tone paw print medal with ribbon
  • $50 cash award
  • $50 gift card to Pet Food Direct (U.S. winners)

About the Organization

P.A.W.S. started eight years ago as a cat and kitten rescue to help deal with the feline overpopulation in Connecticut. In addition to reducing the rate of breeding among stray cats, they also foster and adopt out cats and kittens after being evaluated and cared for at their shelter. They are at full capacity right now and could use foster parents and donations. View their website here to learn more information and how you can help.

Cassie provides live video feeds of her cat and kitten families, allowing an insight into fostering and the growth of kittens. She started this live feed with inspiration and help from John Bartlett, and she has a fan following of her own now.

Q&A With Cassie Packard

1. Cassie, what got you started helping animals?

A kitten cam. John Bartlett, now known as Foster Dad John on The Critter Room, is a foster parent for Purrfect Pals in Washington State.  I started watching his cam feed when there were only 8 to14 people watching.  He now has 20,000+ followers of his many litters of kittens.  Needless to say I was stuck watching his cam as much as I could.  I suffer from depression and anxiety and found a lot of relief watching the kittens and John.  Last fall I decided I wanted to take the next step and try fostering myself.  I am now on my 7th and 8th litters and also run a cam to help raise money for shelters and animals.  When I was rereading this I realized I volunteered at a shelter when I was a kid, but I think John rekindled that fire in me I had forgotten even existed.

2. What’s your earliest childhood memory that is animal-related?

I remember we got my first cat when I was a little kid.  My mom was a nurse at a hospital and had found it outside in the snow crying under a bench.  She brought it home, and that was my first pet I can remember.  I remember crouching down when she came home and her soft little paws.  But I have had

all kinds of animals growing up: hamsters, rats, birds, dogs, cats, fish, hermit crabs, you name it, it went through the house.

3. How old were you when you got your first animal?

I don’t know exactly but probably around 4 or 5 years old.  I have been around animals my entire life.

4. What is your favorite animal?

At this point in my life I think cats are my favorite animal. I love all animals but when it comes to sitting down to rest, watch television and just chill out, a cat is just the right thing to come and cuddle with me, but I love all animals.

5. Tell us about the one animal you will never forget.

I tend to have the memory of an elephant so there isn’t just one.  Just since I have started fostering there have been a lot that have left imprints on my life.  I have lost a momma cat in surgery when she went for her spay, I have pulled a kitten from the road that was hit that we tried to save but ended up losing the fight due to its chest injuries, my first litter of kittens that I ever had I caught myself in my co-worker’s yard.

The iconic Chickenfish (HAIL!) watches over Fairlie on the way to the shelter.
The iconic Chickenfish (HAIL!) guards Fairlie on the way to the shelter.

The momma cat I had that ended up raising 18 kittens (all at once) for us in my home, and most recently my litter of all black kittens that I can’t tell apart and farm kittens that were from a farm raid that came very sick and near loosing eyes and lives from infections but have all rebounded wonderfully. Those are just my foster cats; there are also my own pets.  My dogs I had as a kid.  My cats past and present, including my one “foster fail” so far that I have given in to letting stay with me and all her antics.

6. What are the least and highest amounts of pets you have had at one time?

At least one, highest would be when fostering and that would total 23 animals: 18 kittens, 1 momma cat, 2 cats of my own and 2 rabbits of my own.  It was insane!

7. If your pets could talk, what would they say?

Violet (my original cat): “Mom, have you lost your mind? I love you!”

Buttercup (my foster fail): “Mom mom mommy mom mom mommy… what… feed me!” (even if she just ate), or “Thank you for letting me stay, I knew you would see the light eventually.”

And the bunnies: “Dudeeeeeeee, that was some good cat nip.”

8. If you could solve one problem facing animals, what would it be?

The spay/neuter problem and education to people about the need to spay/neuter your pets. That kittens and puppies are only “cute and cuddly and fuzzy” for a little while, then they become grown cats and dogs.  That doesn’t make them any less lovable, but for some reason people give up the older animals for (what I consider) silly reasons.  I would want to prevent the massive numbers of kittens and puppies being born every day outside, in unsafe, unhealthy conditions, that don’t have a safe warm place to raise their kids, and then their kids reproduce and it becomes a cycle.

9. If you could be reincarnated as any animal, which would you choose and why?

Cats, because they get to lie around and sleep, eat, love when they want it, are silly and playful and cuddle. They have awesome toys, and I love how crazy in their own mind they can be.

10. If the rainbow bridge exists, which pet would you most like to see waiting for you on the other side?

I hadn’t even heard of the rainbow bridge until after I started watching John’s cam.  Now I would want to see them all, I would hope that we could talk the same language so I can speak to them and find out if I was good enough to them, if they were happy.  Recently I’d like to know that I did everything right for my Fairlie (foster momma that died) that I wish there was a way she could have told us how sick she was before it was too late. But let her know I think she was the most amazing cat at raising her entire litter of kittens on her own (with a little help from me), and that she held on until she knew her kids were all in safe homes.

* * *

If you would like to nominate someone to be Pets Adviser’s next Animal Hero of the Month, nomination details are available here.

Help us make this award even more special. If you or your company is interested in sponsoring our Animal Hero of the Month award or adding prizes, contact us at [email protected]

  • Learn more about how Pets Adviser is working to help make a difference: How We Help.

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as chief operating officer for a large mental health practice in Louisiana. Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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