While most of us have been finding different ways to keep busy during this COVID-19 pandemic, 5-year-old Mia Blasutti has been giving back to the community.
The precocious senior kindergartener has been volunteering at the Sudbury not-for-profit PetSave but it's her abilities inside the facility that has earned her a new nickname, 'cat whisperer.'
The volunteers at the shelter discovered the young girl has a talent for making cats feel comfortable in her presence.
She's been volunteering with the feral cats in hopes of making them more comfortable with humans, in a bid to find them good homes.
"I play with the cats and I give them treats," said young Mia who was petting 'Wilhelmina' as she was speaking with CTV News.
She tells those in her class, the best part of coming to PetSave is that she's able to learn and be with cats.
"You have to play with them," she said. "They're here so that they can find homes faster."
"She really just had this fascination with cats and wanted to read all the books about cats and then she started asking if we could have a cat, and if there were any cats we could play with, and I was familiar with PetSave, and I know that they often looked for volunteers," said mom Nadia, who reached out to PetSave and got the ball rolling.
Every week, twice a week, Mia has been coming in and helping to clean up after the 'residents,' she'll pet them and give them love. Officials are already starting to see a remarkable difference in their 25 feral felines.
"She started with us a few months ago and quickly you could see she had a gift with the cats," said PetSave director Jill Pessot.
"Our feral cats or semi-ferals, they're terrified. They're not scary cats, they're just scared and she just seems to have this gentle energy with her and she's so tiny, I guess she's not intimidating to them and they seem to respond to her very well."
Pessot says they're very happy Mia's been able to come every week. When you first entered the room at the shelter they would scatter and now these cats are coming up to strangers for affection.
They're hoping they'll be able to find good foster homes for the group in the coming weeks as the room they're staying in now will have to go under renovations.
"In just a few short months she's (Mia) managed to convert some of our really scared cats into really adoptable cats and that's important because those numbers are really high right now," she said.
"The feral population has come down over the last twenty years since I've been doing this but we have our highest number of ferals because they tend to stay longer with us, so right now we probably have about 45-50 in our system that are semi-feral meaning that they are just anti-social and they come around within 4-8 weeks and you see a big difference in them," Pessot added.
"It's actually amazing to me, it's kind of not explainable," said Nadia.
"There have been cats that I have not been able to approach and Mia, I don't know if it's because she's fearless or that she has the right vibe and the cats can sense it, but she can just go pet some of the cats that no one else can approach."
The already proud mom says it's important to note, these cats are not just used to the adult volunteers but kids now as well.
The Blasuttis are considering adopting a cat themselves so they can continue their volunteer work at home.
In the meantime Mia is hoping to continue to her volunteer work, even after the pandemic, in hopes of helping her feline friends find good homes.
When asked what she planned to tell the other kids in class about why the shelter is so important,
"Cats need homes and some don't have homes," she proclaimed.