Burnet resident Kathy Grimes with two of the many cats at Living Love Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in Marble Falls. The sanctuary is a two-bedroom mobile home dedicated to elderly and special-needs cats. Grimes has volunteered at the shelter for about seven years. Staff photo by Brigid Cooley
Burnet resident Kathy Grimes didn’t consider herself a pet person until 2005, when she rescued her first animal, a cat named Mud. Now, almost 10 years later, Grimes has fallen in love and spends her free time caring for the inhabitations of Living Love Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in Marble Falls.
“That’s usually how it starts, you know,” Grimes said with a smile. “You rescue one, then you get another to keep it company, and, eventually, you’re spending all your time out here (at the shelter). I think (the animals) are doing more for me than I’m doing for them, honestly.”
Living Love is a no-kill shelter located on 9 acres of land just west of Marble Falls. The organization has been carrying out its mission of finding homes for abused, abandoned, and homeless animals in the Highland Lakes since it opened its physical location in 2013. While the shelter has the ability to care for both dogs and cats, it predominantly serves feline friends and currently provides a temporary home for more than 80 cats.
Grimes, a retired flight attendant, has been volunteering at shelters for about seven years now, the majority of that at the Marble Falls facility. She’s also worked with PetPals and Hill Country Cats with its trap, neuter, and return (TNR) program.
Each week at Living Love, Grimes covers two or three five-hour volunteer shifts, mostly inside the shelter’s cat sanctuary.
The sanctuary is one of three buildings on the property. It is a two-bedroom mobile home where elderly and special-needs cats are kept. Inside, cats can be found curled up on countertops or playing with squeaky toys. Outside, you can see them sunbathing on the “catio,” a completely fenced-in patio.
“They pretty much have the run of the house,” said Grimes while helping a mostly blind cat named Ricky onto her lap. “(When you work here), you monitor how they’re doing, you take care of their litter boxes, you feed them, and, most importantly, you love on them.”
Special-needs cats differ from the other animals living at the shelter because of the variety of ailments they face. Some are battling feline AIDS, others are deaf or blind, and some are missing limbs. A majority of them will live out the remainder of their lives in the sanctuary since they are less likely to be adopted because of the level of care necessary for their health and well-being.
Working with these disabled and sick animals brings Grimes fulfillment and joy, but she also feels the heartache that comes with the job.
“We have lost a couple, and that’s hard,” she said. “They’re older, and a lot of them have come from situations where they probably never saw a vet. You do get more attached to some than others.”
In addition to caring for the animals up for adoption, she provides a permanent and loving home for six rescue cats.
Grimes has fostered lasting and meaningful relationships with more than the cats. She has also bonded with her fellow volunteers. That connection grew when Grimes and the other volunteers leaned on one another for emotional support during the early days of the COVID pandemic. Solo visits to the shelter were some of their only outings. Through teamwork and a shared passion for providing animals a humane life, volunteers ensure animals are being visited and cared for every day.
“It is (reassuring) in a way,” Grimes said. “People do sometimes give me a hard time about what I do, but you come up here and we all have the same interest and you just want to take care of the cats. When you get into rescue, you see things that keep you awake at night, but everybody’s happy up here. I love it here, I really do.”
Those interested in volunteering or looking to foster and/or adopt a pet can learn more about Living Love Animal Rescue and Sanctuary by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.