Burnet resident Kathy Grimes with two of the many cats at Living Love Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in Marble Falls. Le Sanctuary is a two-bedroom mobile home dedicated to older cats with special needs. Grimes has been a volunteer at the shelter for about seven years. Staff photo by Brigid Cooley
Burnet resident Kathy Grimes didn’t consider herself a companion until 2005 when she rescued her first pet, a cat named Mud. Now, nearly 10 years later, Grimes has fallen in love and spends her free time tending the homes of Living Love Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in Marble Falls.
“That’s usually how it starts, you know,” Grimes said with a smile. “You save one, then you get another to keep it company, and eventually you spend all your time here (at the shelter). I think (animals) do more for me than I do for them, honestly.
Living Love is a no-kill refuge located on 9 acres of land just west of Marble Falls. The organization has carried out its mission of finding homes for abused, abandoned and homeless animals in the Highland Lakes since opening its physical location in 2013. Although the shelter has the capacity to care for dogs and cats, it mainly serves felines. friends and currently provides temporary homes for over 80 cats.
Grimes, a retired flight attendant, has been volunteering at shelters for about seven years now, the majority of them at the Marble Falls facility. She has also worked with PetPals and Hill Country Cats with their 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 shrine is one of three buildings on the property. This is a two-bedroom mobile home where elderly and special-needs cats are housed. Inside, cats can be found curled up on counters or playing with squeaky toys. Outside you can see them sunbathing on the “catio”, a fully fenced patio.
“They pretty much have control of the house,” Grimes said while helping a mostly blind cat named Ricky into his lap. “(When you work here) you watch how they are doing, you take care of their litter boxes, you feed them, and most importantly, you love them.”
Cats with special needs are distinguished from other animals living in the shelter by the variety of ailments they face. Some are battling feline AIDS, others are deaf or blind, and some have missing limbs. A majority of them will live the rest of their lives in the sanctuary as they are less likely to be adopted due to the level of care required for their health and well-being.
Working with these disabled and sick animals brings fulfillment and joy to Grimes, but she also feels the heartache that comes with the job.
“We lost a couple, and it’s difficult,” she said. “They’re older and a lot of them come from situations where they’ve probably never seen a vet. You attach yourself more to some than to others.
In addition to caring for animals for adoption, she provides a forever loving home for six rescue cats.
Grimes has nurtured lasting and meaningful relationships with more than just cats. She also bonded with her fellow volunteers. This connection developed when Grimes and the other volunteers leaned on each other 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 giving animals a human life, volunteers ensure animals are visited and cared for every day.
“It’s (reassured) in a way,” Grimes said. “People sometimes give me a hard time about what I do, but you come here and we all have the same interest and you just want to take care of the cats. When you’re on rescue, you see things that keep you awake at night, but everyone’s happy here. I like it here, really.
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 [email protected].