cynthia-and-shania_SMIn this series we’ll introduce you to staff members and the furry faces that inspire our work to protect cats.

Cynthia Von Schlichten is our Program Manager and one of the newest members of the Alley Cat Allies team. Cynthia works in Community Outreach and is helping grow our Feral Friends Network along with other programs and campaigns. She has been vegan for over 14 years, and enjoys singing opera and baking. And Cynthia is a Disney World fanatic and is getting married there this December!

How did you meet your cats?

I have five cats: Godzilla, Cosette, Shania, Melanie, and Debbie. Godzilla was surrendered to a vet hospital where my cousin is a veterinary technician. His previous family had kept him in a basement, and sadly neglected him when he stopped eating due to a chronic liver condition. He’s a big boy, but he was down to less than six pounds when he was brought to the clinic to be euthanized. The hospital took him in, nursed him back to health, and he has been with me since 2011. He and Shania always greet me at the door when I come home.

Shania is the baby of the family — just 2½ years old. My niece found her wandering around a park near Pittsburgh, and she came to live with me a month later. She is a character! She gets bored easily and you really have to work to keep her entertained, or she will go looking for trouble.

Cosette has quite a story. She was in an abusive home and someone brought her to the same veterinary clinic where my cousin is a tech. It took six weeks to nurse little Cosette back to health. She came to me in 2007, and the moment I saw her, she broke my heart with her sweet, scared little face. She is still afraid of people, but we are continuing to make progress. She is extremely affectionate to me though, coming out for pets when I come into the room.
Melanie is about 5 years old, and she came to me when my aunt and uncle found a pregnant momma cat living under their deck. They took the momma in and eventually found homes for all her kittens, including Melanie! I joke that Melanie is an opera singer too because of her high-pitched meow and dramatic behavior.

Debbie is a tuxedo kitty and about 7 years old. Her nickname is Portly Purry. She was found by a friend of mine in the grass by an apartment complex. I took her in and she’s been my baby ever since. She’s shy, but if you give her love, she is all about affection and purrs like crazy.

How do your cats inspire your work at Alley Cat Allies?

All of my kitties inspire me every day to do my work at Alley Cat Allies. They are sweet, sensitive, loving beings, and they remind me that all cats deserve to live their lives in the best possible way. Needless to say, my cats love to brag that their mommy works for Alley Cat Allies!

What are your cats’ likes and dislikes?

Well, they all love food, of course! Debbie hates to be brushed, but she’s a good sport about it. Melanie and Shania have a playful rivalry. Melanie loves to drink from the faucet. Shania goes after Melanie a lot, but I also catch Melanie being the instigator and then acting like she’s the victim! Godzilla is very affectionate and loves to lie right on top of me and purr in my face.

Any funny anecdotes that make your cats unique?

Shania has a habit of getting her claws stuck on the screen door to my balcony, but it’s very cute, because when she does, she looks at me over her shoulder as if to say, “Are you gonna help?” Then she lets me pull her off safely.

We want to thank Cynthia for sharing her stories about Godzilla, Cosette, Shania, Melanie, and Debbie—and for all the hard work she does here at Alley Cat Allies!