Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Soothing Shelter Animals

 Pet lover?

My friend Alice isn't a woman I would have described as either a dog person or a cat person. When I first met her our whole circle of friends had dogs and/or cats, and though she never seemed afraid of them, and was concerned for their welfare, she had no real interest in petting or playing with them. Over time that attitude has changed, but I still never expected to hear that she had adopted a trio of stray kittens. Life does indeed still hold surprises!

In addition to our interest in animals, we share of love of crafts. Alice is a bit of a knitting addict, and, as this blog will attest, I'm more than a little obsessed with quilting, and crochet, and, and... This has led us to share back and forth little snippets of interest we find on the Internet about projects and the work of other crafters.

Comfort for Critters

A few weeks ago, Alice circulated a story amongst her crafty friends about Comfort for Critters. This is a wonderful organization that in their own words, "is a 100% volunteer program that creates handmade blankets to comfort homeless pets living in animal shelters. While these animals await adoption, the blankets provide a comfortable bed year-round. When they are adopted, their blanket goes with them, providing something familiar as they adjust to their "forever family." Now don't worry, there is plenty of yarn and fabric in the future of this post, but first a bit more background.

If you have ever volunteered at an animal shelter or rescue, or just visited one to pick out a new companion, you know that a shelter can be a terrifying place for an animal who is lost or has been abandoned for one reason or another. The noise of dogs barking can be deafening, and the smell of chemicals necessary to keep such places safe and sanitary can be overwhelming. Add to this the fact that dogs and cats may be housed in close quarters with animals they do not know, and moved from cage or kennel to kennel as cleaning and adoptions take place. Though shelter staff make heroic efforts to give these unfortunates the care and loving attention they need, it is not uncommon for formerly well adjusted animals to become shut down and depressed.

How do blankets help? 

These blankets are given to an individual animal, and move with them from cage to cage, providing a bit of something soft and warm, and that smells like them. This can be a great comfort in that stressful situation. And when they go to their forever home, the blanket goes with them to ease the transition to yet another new environment.

Comfort for Critters gathers the donated blankets and distributes them to participating shelters, which makes it easy for volunteers to just make the blankets - knitted, crocheted, quilted or sewn of soft fleece - and leave the logistics to someone else. Unfortunately the only shelter on their list in our state (Georgia) isn't all that closeby, and we wanted to do something local.

Act Local

Enter Audrey Shoemaker, the Volunteer Coordinator at Fulton County Animal Services. Fulton County runs a huge shelter with as many as 100 cats and 250 to 300 dogs at any one time. We decided that was much too large a commitment for our small group. However, right now there are only about 30 cats and kittens at the shelter. Finally we decided that we would try to make enough blankets for all of the cats and puppies, plus a few larger blankets for the dogs that are going out to adoption events. And we want to have them all done by the end of February.

We are making progress. Here is the first batch

the blankets for cats and puppies are small - just 20 by 20 inches square. This one is crocheted in a cushy basketweave and used up a bunch of leftover yarn from other projects

This quilt will be for a larger dog, and uses a cute animal print with some flannel borders

Another large dog quilt made out of fleece

Fleece is the obvious choice for a person who wants to participate but doesn't have the skills or time to make something. Just cut fleece to the right size - perhaps use a rotary cutter to make a wavy edge as in this example - and you're done. Fleece doesn't ravel, so no hemming required.

I'm repurposing an old quilt top that I originally pieced as a queen size quilt to be sold for charity. I kind of hated it after it was pieced, so never finished it. Now I'm cutting it up and should have about ten of these puppy quilts ready in no time.

Cute quilt back right?

Join in the fun!

Are you interested in joining us? Shoot me an email at and I'll coordinate with you on what to make and how to get the finished blankets to me. This really is a labor of love, and something that is so easy to do.


  1. This is a cool project! I've got some old fleece that needs using ... How 'bout a couple kitty blankets? Fleece works well for our Opey ... she doesn't rip it to shreds and can knead all she likes ... let me know your timeline on this project Kay!

  2. Thanks so much Susan. We are hoping to deliver the first batch by the end of the month.