A Thanksgiving thank-you for the Pahrump cat rescue volunteers

On Thanksgiving Day, volunteers and Best Friends staffers working at the cat rescue center in Pahrump, Nevada, took time out to dine on an early afternoon feast with all the fixings.

The catered, full-course meal, compliments of the Rewind restaurant in Kanab, Utah, with more side dishes prepared by locals, was a Thanksgiving to remember, with much to be grateful for.

The sun came out and the wind calmed down just in time for the gathering of 40 to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in an outdoor, makeshift dining area, complete with festive tablecloths, decorative garland and pumpkins as centerpieces.

Read more about the Pahrump cat rescue

Thank-you for the Pahrump cat volunteers

The first order of business: toasts to the volunteers, who traveled to the desert to spend their four-day weekend not with friends and family, but instead helping to take care of 250 cats. That’s how many remain from the more than 700 felines that Nye County Animal Control confiscated from an institutional hoarding situation and handed over to Best Friends to medically treat, socialize and place in forever homes.

Next, gifts ranging from T-shirts to cat toys were handed out to volunteers by Lynn Dolan, events coordinator for Best Friends.

Enjoying an Unturkey with all the fixings

The group then chowed down on Unturkey (a meat substitute), vegetarian gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, fruit salad, vegetables, rolls and corn bread. For dessert, there were pumpkin and fruit pies, and, last but not least, a kitty litter cake, made to look like a litter tray – tootsie rolls and all – cooked up by Renee Campbell, who’s in charge of laundry detail at the center.

Sisters Stephanie and Shari Timberlake, who flew in for the weekend from Minnesota, didn’t want to spend their Thanksgiving anywhere but at the center. "We’ve been wanting to help these cats, and this was the first chance we had," Shari said. "We’re happy to be here."

Krista Fletching from Arizona had volunteered earlier, and returned this time with her boyfriend, Mike Stubing. At home after her first stint at the center, Krista couldn’t stop thinking about the cats, especially one named Fudge.

When she returned for Thanksgiving, she learned that Fudge was still at the center. So she completed the paperwork and planned to take him home. "I couldn’t believe he was still available for adoption," she said.

Also attending was Patty Hegwood, director of animal care for Best Friends, who came with her husband and daughter. "We’re here for all of them," said Patty, as she looked out at the group.

Marie Bennet, who lives in Pahrump, helped serve a Thanksgiving meal at the local senior center the day before, then drove to the cat center on Thanksgiving. She provided the pies, rolls and additional dishes for volunteers. "This is easy," Marie said. "We served about 160 people yesterday." But whether it was a Thanksgiving dinner for 40 or 160, Marie said, "we’d be here anyway. This is good … what everybody’s doing for the cats."

Find out about volunteering with animals

Shown in the photo at the top of the page are (left to right, around the table) Stephanie Timberlake, Gilla Gidlow, David Gidlow, Dion Lapham, Shari Timberlake, Susan Flora, Mike Stubing and Krista Fletching.

Photos by Cathy Scott