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Winnipeg woman, 99, crocheting blankets for cats

A 99-year-old Winnipeg woman is using her crochet skills to give some furry friends a soft place to rest.

Every day, Gladys Wheeler picks up her yarn and gets to work making small rectangular blankets. However, these blankets are not for humans, but rather for the cats at the Winnipeg Humane Society’s satellite location at Best West Pet Foods.

“The cat gets a mat when it goes to the store and so it stays with the cat. The cat goes home with it,” Wheeler said.

The way the process works is the cats get the blankets when they arrive at Best West Pet Foods, and get to keep it after they’ve been adopted. This gives the cats some consistency when moving to a new home and also makes it easier for them to settle in.

“It’s also nice for the cats to go home with something that smells like them, because they’re going from an unfamiliar place to another unfamiliar place so having something consistent between those homes is always really nice for them,” said Kai Watts, assistant manager at Best West Pet Woods.

A cat with one of Wheeler's blankets.

Wheeler has been making these cat mats since around 2006.

In the 17 years, about 1,000 of her blankets have been given to cats and their adoptive families.

“I can’t not do it. I get a minute to spare, there I am crocheting,” she said.

Wheeler’s companion Susan Taylor helps her out with the blankets by tidying up the ends and picking out yarn.

“Some days I’ll leave and she’s starting a mat… and I’ll come back the next day and it’s done, so she’ll have worked for hours,” Taylor said.

Giving back has always been an important part of Wheeler and her family’s life.

“Both my parents were volunteers to the extreme. They were gone every day to do something,” said Deb Rivington, Wheeler’s daughter.

As Wheeler heads to her next milestone of turning 100 years old, she plans to continue with her crocheting.

“Here I am, doing something for the animals and I got my health and I got my family, what else do I need?” she said.

- With files from CTV’s Nicole Dube. Top Stories

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