Advanced veterinary care for her cats, Spike (who had oral cancer) and Holly (who had severe allergies) made Linda Ahrens, 79, want to help pet owners receive the same level of care for their animals.
In 2005 Linda asked her daughter, Tracy, about an idea. The Illinois resident wanted to make 24-inch-square flannel quilts that could be sold at the veterinary facility where her cats were treated — the University of Illinois Small Animal Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. There they offer a Humane Connection Fund. That fund makes it possible for clinicians at the hospital to go the extra mile in the treatment of companion animals. All quilt proceeds (sold for $10 each) are donated.
Today Linda’s project, Quilts for Cats & Small Dogs has expanded to selling the machine-sewn quilts through a Facebook page. All proceeds from quilts sold via the page help local rescue organizations.
“Cats love the softness (of the quilts),” Linda says. “(The quilts) give me a lot of enjoyment. And I give something back this way.” Linda learned to sew at the age of 8 and has also made clothing and traditional quilts.
As of summer 2020, Linda has made over 1,400 quilts that have been shipped across the United States and to Canada, Denmark, Romania, Australia and the Philippines. Popular social media pets who have a quilt include The Oreo Cat, Louie from Sophie Loves Tuna, Winky the Dwarf Cat, The Official Taco Squad, Benji the Wise Cat, Little Rocky Balboa, Old Man Tater, Rescue Logan, Moose the Sphynx, George Dewey, Azog Woodall and Tater Pol (belonging to television’s Dr. Pol).
Tracy assists Linda with gathering sewing supplies, updating the Facebook page, taking orders and shipping. Every Black Friday, Linda and Tracy visit a fabric store and purchase at least 300 yards of flannel for a low price and use it throughout the year.
Linda said it’s “overwhelming” knowing her two cats inspired a project that placed her quilts in homes around the world and has raised several thousand dollars for pets in need. Visit their Facebook page @quiltsforcats.
Featured photo: Tina Modugno