There’s not a doubt in our mind that this kid is a hero! We’re loving this story from The Dodo! Meet Shon, a 5-year-old boy who adores helping feral cats in his family’s neighborhood. Every time Kris Papiernik and Kia Griffin’s nephew comes for a weekend visit, he only wants to do one thing — go outside and take care of the street cats. 

“We’ve been a big part of his life ever since he was born,” Papiernik, an independent cat rescuer, told The Dodo. “If he was with us, he was around cats. He follows our lead.”

For the past 10 years, Papiernik and Griffin have been caring for over 40 street cats who live in rough parts of Philadelphia and the surrounding area. While they try to rescue and rehome as many cats as they can, others are too feral and unsocialized to adjust to domestic life, and the most Papiernik and Griffin can do is feed them, and try to get as many of them spayed and neutered as possible.

They’ve dubbed the different cat colonies the Kolony Kats, Backyard Boys, Stray Kitty Crew, Meow Squad, Gas Station Kitties and Indoor Kitties.

When Shon first expressed interest in helping out with the cats, Papiernik and Griffin weren’t too sure.

“We were a little hesitant at first because they’re feral cats, and we thought they’re going to run from a rambunctious 3-year-old,” Papiernik said.

But it turned out they were actually very mistaken!

“It was the total opposite — they just gravitated to him,” Papiernik said. “He’d scratch their bellies and scratch their heads. It was amazing to see these cats who wouldn’t even allow us to touch them, but immediately took to him. He must have this magical effect that the cats can pick up.”

A cat named Bug, who lives in the Kolony Kats group with nine others, was one of the first cats whom Shon managed to charm.

“We couldn’t get Bug neutered or anything because he wouldn’t come to us, and he wouldn’t come near the trap,” Papiernik said. “But when Shon came around and started feeding him, Bug came immediately to him and, ever since then, Bug has been a friendly cat.”

Shon helps out at every opportunity he gets. From refilling water bowls to dishing out the dry food.

“Sometimes he likes to dress up,” Papiernik said. “He said it makes him feel like a superhero for animals.”

We love that Shon is so passionate about helping animals in need and that he’s helping to end pet homelessness in the U.S. For 60 years, Friends of Animals has run a national, low-cost spay and neuter program and has successfully altered over 2.5 million cats to date. We completely endorse Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) as the only method that effectively reduces cat populations and we applaud everyone who assists in ending the pet homelessness epidemic.

Check out this documentary we helped produce about feral cat colonies and TNR programs and visit this link to learn more about our low-cost spay and neuter certificates.


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