At 5 years old, Kaitlyn wanted a kitten, but Kathy was not sure that Kaitlyn
had the readiness or skills to deal with
caring for a pet. Kathy told Kaitlyn that
when their dogs passed, she could pick
out a kitten.
When Kaitlyn was 9, they started
their search by visiting a Cat Fanciers’
Association show, where Kaitlyn fell
in love with the Cornish Rex breed.
Kathy said when one of the exhibitors
offered to show them her cats, Kaitlyn
immediately followed her over to
her cages. This was unusual because
Kaitlyn would “normally stay hidden
behind me. This told me there was a
spark of interest and that Kaitlyn might
be interested in showing a cat.”
While Kaitlyn couldn’t ride a bike
or play sports, Kathy was sure that
her daughter could show a cat. “This
was about the cat being judged and
not about Kaitlyn, her abilities, or
lack of them. This sounded like what
we had been looking for … something
that Kaitlyn could do without dam-
aging her delicate self-esteem.”
At 10 years, Kaitlyn learned to
prepare a cat for a show, groom a cat,
present it in a ring for judging, set up
a cage, clean a cage, feed a cat, and
empty a litter box. But more impor-
tantly, said Kathy, Kaitlyn learned how
to “graciously win and graciously lose.
She discovered how much fun she
could have being involved with cats
Kaitlyn’s current cat is the Grand
Champion Kaylee’s Gia of Kaybill. Gia
is a 14-month-old Cornish Rex cat who
allows Kaitlyn to dress her up and walk
her around on a leash at cat shows.
(Gia is owned by Kathy, Kaitlyn, and Kay
Wentling; Gia was bred by Kathy and
Kaitlyn and lives with them.) Gia wears
elaborate dresses and hats that are so
well-made she does not feel confined
in them and walks quite naturally.
Kaitlyn’s world grew, thanks to the
opportunity to care for, show, and
bond with cats. Kathy formed Kaylee
Cattery ( kayleecornishrex.com), which
is named after both her daughters.
Said Kathy: “I got involved in this
hobby so my very special daughter
could learn to walk ahead of me, look
at people, and talk to them in a safe
and secure environment.”
Kaitlyn is now 23 years old, grad-
uated from the Woodrow Wilson
Rehabilitative School in 2012 and has
a job at Quantico. She is confident in
her ability to do what she wants to
do, and her life has been made richer
by something we all understand – the
special bond we share with our cats.
Kaitlyn + Cats = Transformation
One girl’s life is made larger and better through her bond with her
cats. BY CATHERINE HOLM
Catherine Holm is a regular
writer for Catster.com and
the author of The Great Purr,
Driving With Cats, and two
short story collections. She
writes, teaches yoga, and
plays outside in Vermont, where she lives with
her husband and six wonderful indoor cats.
Kaitlyn holds the
given to her by Lynn
Search, which started her showing in
CFA. Next to her is
CFA Allbreed judge
Robert Molino (who
retired last year after
30 years), one of the
first judges Kaitlyn
showed cats under.
Gia shows off her Wow Wow Ugarte Collection
Show Stopper dress designed by Kevin Ugarte, Pa.
Gia looks dashing in this festive ensemble.
Kathy Pritchard’s youngest daughter, Kaitlyn, had seizures at 18 months and was eventually diagnosed with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Asperger’s syndrome. As a child, Kaitlyn was slow in developing
motor skills, hand-to-eye coordination, and social-verbal skills. Kathy and Kaitlyn’s
teachers tried unsuccessfully to get Kaitlyn to socialize in school and participate in her
classes, but they were unable to penetrate Kaitlyn’s introverted world.
Kaitlyn and her cats