2,500th cat sleepover

Amongst the junk mail and bills, Becky Verona received a piece of mail that introduced her to Best Friends Animal Society. This mailing stuck out even though she was a cash-strapped law student.

"I remember feeling like it was a different type of organization," says Becky. "I really responded to Best Friends' positive way of delivering the message. It made me feel like this is where I want to send my $25."

Soon she was sponsoring Colonel the cat and dreaming of the day when she could visit the Sanctuary in person.

Over a decade later, she recently got that chance - along with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Hosting a Sanctuary cat for a sleepover

Caroline the cat has the distinction of going on the 2,500th sleepoverVisitors to the Sanctuary who volunteer in Cat World and who are staying in appropriate housing are able to take a Sanctuary cat for a sleepover if they would like to. Becky and her husband, Peter Kabachnik, had the distinction of hosting the 2,500th cat for a sleepover.

They requested a cat who staff felt needed a sleepover, and Caroline fit the bill. Though a bit of a wallflower at the Sanctuary, Peter says "away from all the other cats, her personality really changed, and a new Caroline emerged." After exploring the cabin, it didn't take long for her to snuggle in and enjoy her time with the couple, always wanting to be within eyesight.

However, the next morning, the couple panicked when they couldn't find Caroline. Becky and Peter hadn't left the cabin all night, and without any open windows, there was no way Caroline could have escaped. But where was she?

After looking everywhere, they finally found her underneath the comforter. Apparently Caroline had been zipping back and forth, from one side of the bed to the other, out of view.

Becky affectionately describes the little trickster as "everything you want a cat to be: very gentle, very sweet, very cuddly - but she also has this fun, playful side."

Fostering cats and kittens

Becky Verona volunteering at Cat World at Best Friends Animal SanctuaryThough the couple also volunteered in Dogtown and Marshall's Piggy Paradise, Cat World held a special place in their hearts. That should come as no surprise since Becky volunteers for Furrever Friends back home in New Jersey.

She is the organization's volunteer coordinator, helps with fundraising, and fosters cats and kittens. Initially hesitant to start fostering, Becky was afraid her heart would break each time one was adopted. In reality, she feels the fulfillment of helping save lives and only regrets not starting earlier.

"You make a permanent, positive mark on an animal's life when you foster, and you forever change the trajectory of their lives," says Becky. "I think it is by far one of the most important things that anyone in rescue can do."

Working from home roughly three days a week, Peter also gets in on the action.

"Not only are you saving cats and kittens by giving them a safe home and the time they need before they are ready to go to an adoption center," says Peter, "but you get to interact with so many wonderful cats."

Registering for the Best Friends Conference

Becky describes her trip to Best Friends as life-changing, and to keep up the positive momentum from her trip, she registered to attend the upcoming No More Homeless Pets Conference in Jacksonville.

"I've always been told you can't save every animal," says Becky. "Going to Best Friends and seeing this whole community full of people who are so passionate about rescue and who have made such incredible strides, it really makes you question that old sentiment that you can't save them all. Why? Maybe we can save them all. Maybe if we all worked together, not just locally but nationally, we can."

Learn more about volunteering at Best Friends.

Photos courtesy of Becky Verona