First came Tweety Bird and Sylvester. Now comes the sequel: Peaches Parakeet and Kitty the Cat.
The unlikely pairing took place Thursday afternoon when Thea Stephens and her 18-year-old granddaughter, Etta Ruth, arrived at the Salt Lake City animal shelter to claim a parakeet and kitten as part of the new Santa Dog program.Administered by the shelter and sponsored by a host of area corporations, businesses, veterinarians and individuals, the program is placing animal companions with lonely senior citizens throughout the month of December, said Frank W. Crowe, humane education officer for city's animal control department.
Both the grandmother and granddaughter appeared delighted with the new additions to their home, quickly dubbed, "Peaches" and "Kitty."
The grandmother, her eyes twinkling, praised the placement program. "I hope they give away a lot of animals so they don't have to put them to sleep. There are a lot of lonely people out there."
She said Etta Ruth, who is mentally disabled, wanted a cat rather than a dog because it will be easier to keep in their apartment.
Etta Ruth, who looked at and handled more than a dozen cats before finally settling on a 3-month-old female calico tabby, beamed and said she was happy with her new friend.
And Grandmother Stephens seemed just as pleased with her green and yellow parakeet, which was donated by Bird World. "That's my favorite," she said.
Crowe said the shelter doesn't want the animals given as Christmas gifts but wants to help where there's a need for companionship. "In that respect, the cat and bird are going to do that daughter and grandmother a world of good."
Qualifying seniors receive their pets free, along with a host of services, such as free pet food, spay and neuter coupons, pet collars and ID tags, and first series of inoculations.
Stephens said she heard about the program on a local television station and decided to call.
Both grandmother and granddaughter said they don't expect any problems with bird and cat - despite the obvious conflict with the laws of nature.
"We've had birds and cats together before and haven't had any problems," the grandmother said, motioning up from the floor, where Peaches' cage will safely hang.> Still, on the way out the door, several people thought they saw Kitty licking her chops and meowing something about there really being a Santa Claus. Peaches, who was busy checking the strength of the cage's bars, declined to chirp.