Being 3 years old, Abbie Jago is younger--though not much bigger--than Ivan, a prize-winning Burmese cat. But that didn't stop the Providence Speech and Hearing Center student from wrapping the feline in her arms Thursday and giving him a tight squeeze.
"He's sweet," she whispered as she and 30 of her classmates, ages 2 through 6, played with 15 cats, all contestants in the International Cat Show next weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center. Asked if she noticed anything else about 4-year-old Ivan, Abbie, who lives in Garden Grove, grinned and replied, "He's got sharp claws."
Dori Fitch, the center's spokeswoman, said that many of the children are extremely shy because of their speech or hearing impediments and that having the cats visit "helps bring them out of their shell."
"They can go around and pet the animals, play with them and see their uniqueness, and the therapists can use the experience when they work with the children," Fitch said.