As part of my job at CVAS, I talk to students and Scout troops about the shelter to give them an idea of what it’s like to work here and what we do for the animals.

One of the points I try to make is what it’s like for these animals living in a kennel. I joke that our dog kennels are actually nicer than my apartment (and in terms of heating and ventilation, they kind of are), but it’s tough for dogs to live alone in a kennel. They are naturally pack animals and want to be around other beings.

Our cats get comfy bedding, but I know they’d love to have space to run, like you find in a home.

To give the kids an idea of what I mean, I ask if they’ve ever been in an elevator. Many of them say they have and I tell them the next time you’re in an elevator look around and imagine living in a space like that for months. That’s what it’s like for our animals, and that’s why they’re so grateful when they get adopted.

That’s what makes it so tough for the group we call our long-term residents. These are the animals who have been at the shelter the longest for whatever reason, and are still waiting on their forever home.

Gypsy is a special case. She was adopted out as a kitten and returned to the shelter because of litterbox issues. We think the other cats in the home may have bullied her and that’s what caused her not using the litterbox. We’ve kept an eye on her and she’s had no problems since she’s been back, so we think she may do best if she’s the only cat in the house.

Gypsy is a 3-year-old brown tabby girl with the most expressive face. She gives you that look every once in a while that seems to say she can see right through any ridiculous notions us humans may have. She’s been with us since April 14, 2018. That’s far too long to spend in a cage.

Then I have to tell you the tale of two sisters.

Nevaeh and her sister, Bobbi, came into the shelter when they were 4 months old. They’re all black cats and are incredibly sweet. They came into the shelter on June 11, 2018. This month marks their one-year anniversary with us, and it just breaks my heart.

A lot of times, the black cats tend to get overlooked in the shelter. I have no idea why, especially considering I live with four black cats in my gang and they are the sweetest babies. It makes me wonder if that warning around Halloween may have some basis in fact. Perhaps superstition keeps people away from the black cats.

For whatever reason, these two sisters have grown up in a cage, and they’ve been here for a year. They love when visitors come in and they talk just a little bit from time to time. They have pretty yellow eyes that seem to understand what you’re saying to them (but I think that’s true of most animals I spend time with).

Now’s the time when the shelter gets overrun with kittens. They’re coming in by the litter. Our executive director has nine kittens of various ages in her office alone.

The older adults sometimes can’t compete with the kittens, and that makes the stories of Gypsy, Nevaeh and Bobbi that much sadder. They stay in cages while the little ones get adopted and it’s difficult to really understand why.

So if you or anyone you know would be interested in one of these long-term girls at the shelter, please give us a call or stop out.

I promise you shelter animals, especially the ones who have lived in a cage for a while, know that you save them and they will be so incredibly grateful to find their place with you.

Please help them out if you can.


Jennifer Vanderau is the Director of Communications for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter, and can be reached at: The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at: (717) 263-5791, or visit the website: CVAS also operates a thrift store in Chambersburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the store.


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