Love Stories in Honor of Valentine's Day

Aerys was neutered before being adopted by Alyssa Grabski through COFAS. Photo: Evelyn Lett

Aerys was neutered before being adopted by Alyssa Grabski through COFAS. Photo: Evelyn Lett


February may be the season of love, but it shouldn’t be for your pets!

Ahh, February. We’re glad you’re here! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and that means love is in the air. Everyone’s buying chocolates and planning for a fun evening with their special someone. We here at AthensPets hope that you’ll skip the chocolate (it’s not good for your pets anyway), and that you’ll take your furry special someone (no, we don’t mean your somewhat hairy husband!) to be spayed or neutered. February may be the month of love for us humans, but for animals, it’s Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. 

Right now, cats and dogs are already breeding and getting ready to kick off our animal shelter’s toughest season of the year—kitten and puppy season. While it sounds cute and cuddly (who doesn’t love the idea of being covered in cute, fuzzy kittens and puppies?!), shelter staff and volunteers know that inevitably it will lead to a high number of kittens and puppies who won’t make it out of the shelter. Our shelter often receives litters of kittens and puppies who are far too young to have been separated from their mothers. While shelter staff and our rescue partners do everything that they can, these orphaned litters are highly susceptible to disease and typically require around-the-clock care to have a chance of surviving. 

But through a single act of love, you can help us save lives and give your own pet a chance at a longer and healthier life. Here’s a quick look at the benefits of spaying or neutering your pet:

Your pet will actually live a longer and healthier life! What better gift could you give your pet this Valentine’s Day?

Female animals, especially if they are spayed before their first heat cycle, are less likely to develop uterine infections or mammary tumors. Mammary tumors, as reported by the ASPCA, are malignant in approximately 50 percent of dogs and a shocking 90 percent of cats. While rarer, male cats can also develop mammary cancer. This cancer typically spreads rapidly in cats and is often fatal, so spaying your female cat early is especially critical.

The ASPCA reports that male animals that have been neutered avoid the risks of testicular cancer and some prostate problems.

Animals that have been spayed or neutered roam less since they’re no longer searching for a mate. This greatly reduces their impulse to be an escape artist and their chances (once freed) of being hit by a car or getting in a fight with another roaming animal. 

You’ll also avoid common behavioral problems associated with unaltered animals.

If your dog has aggressive tendencies, those are more likely to subside after he’s been neutered. A neutered dog is also less likely to attempt to hump other animals or humans.

Unaltered animals are more likely to mark their territory, so by altering them early on you can avoid unwanted marking behavior inside of your home.

Cats in heat will yowl loudly to attempt to find mates, something no one enjoys listening to at 3am. 

Also, altered dogs usually fit in more easily in public gatherings with other animals, like on a visit to the dog park or on a crowded brewery night.  

Most importantly, you’ll be helping to ensure that your pets won’t have any unintentional or unwanted litters. Many people don’t realize how early animals can go into heat and are surprised when their six-month-old “puppy” or “kitten” ends up pregnant. This is one of the number one ways that kittens and puppies end up at the shelter, so please spay and neuter your pets early on so that you can contribute to the solution of pet overpopulation rather than being part of the problem. 

Remember, if you are feeding stray cats that are not altered, it is essential to get them spayed and neutered. Otherwise you’re just helping them stay healthier so that they can reproduce more quickly and have larger litters. Many well-meaning folks started off by feeding one or two cats on their property only to find themselves overwhelmed with a colony of 20 or more within just a year or two. 

The good news is that there are a lot of resources out there to help you, whether you’re looking to alter your personal pet or help a cat that’s decided to call your house home. Contact us at AthensPets (, and we’ll be glad to help direct you to resources that are available in the Athens area. 


Lily Belle and Brittnee. Photo: Brittnee Thirkield

Lily Belle and Brittnee. Photo: Brittnee Thirkield


I adopted my two cats, Lily Belle and Waylon, from the Athens Area Humane Society on June 10, 2016. At the time, I was battling depression and looking for a way to learn how to nurture again. Turns out cat therapy was just what the doctor ordered. 

I saw Waylon’s picture online and thought he was cute as a button. When I arrived, the adoption coordinator explained bonded pairs to me and introduced me to about three or four pairs. The cats I would bring home two hours later were the last ones I met. If they could speak English, here’s what they would say:

Lily Belle: Hi. I’m Lily Belle aka Nike aka Queen Lilz. I’m a 3-year-old tortoiseshell cat (tortie). On the day we were adopted, I was very interactive. First of all, no one puts baby in a corner, and no one puts me in a shelter for several months without me having an exit strategy. I decided it was time for us to find our own home. The world needs to know of my greatness, as I was named after the Greek goddess of speed, strength and victory. True to my name, I raced around the interaction pen, elegantly of course, climbing the walls, scratching the post, meowing. I didn’t care who saw it or what they thought. I’m the queen. Brittnee was kinda cool... for a human. She was more interested in my son, but I’m the one who makes the final decisions around here. Basically, she fell in love with him on the internet, but I sealed the deal! I wanted to go home with her but didn’t like it when they put me in the carrier, so I jumped out of it, twice… Again, no one puts baby in a corner, and no one puts me in a carrier. Once home, I explored a bit while Waylon hid to see if the new place was safe. I decided it was and claimed the home as mine, forever. Talk about a victory!

Nowadays, I’m extremely vocal. B says I have a large vocabulary letting everyone know when I’m displeased, happy or bored. I’m even teaching her some cat speak. Since she insists on fostering kittens for a local shelter, I’m the self-appointed cat etiquette instructor for the little rascals. I’m more than willing to share my home, but they have to respect the queen first!

Waylon: Hiya! I am 2-year-old ginger and though a full adult in cat years, Brittnee sometimes describes me as a 15-pound kitten. On the day we were adopted, I was stand-offish and watched from behind a cubby. When I got bored of watching her play with my mom, I quietly peered out the window and ignored them both. I like seeing outside but prefer to be nestled safely inside. Having lived in shelters most of my short life, I didn’t know what to make of the car ride. I followed behind my mom when she explored the new place. I found a safe place and watched B from the top of the staircase for hours. Once she shared some food and treats with us, I knew I would love her.

It’s been a year and a half since we came home with B, and I am fairly vocal. I pride myself on being the time keeper for meals and head of the welcome committee for the foster cats and kittens. I’m still a bit shy around strangers, but I come around quickly.


Madi and Aerys cuddling. Photo: Alyssa Grabski

Madi and Aerys cuddling. Photo: Alyssa Grabski


LOVE is a four-legged word!

We rescued Madi from Circle of Friends almost exactly one year ago! Madi had about five different places to stay before she found her furrever home with us. We put a lot of love and patience into helping her understand how to be a carefree dog. We gained her trust, and now Madi loves giving kisses, going to daycare at Mutty Paws and learning new tricks with Lucky Dog Training. After some convincing by Matt, we got Madi a four-legged sibling named Aerys. When we met him, we knew his bold personality would mix well with Madi (who often forgets her own size)! Aerys is extremely social and wins over the hearts anyone who meets him. He loves watching the wildlife outside, and WE love watching his little belly swinging side to side as he runs all over the house. Madi and Aerys love hanging out together—whether it’s naps, tearing up paper bags or chasing the Roomba. While they don’t always see eye to eye (literally), I think they can both agree the four of us make one happy family!