UNION SQUARE — Fancy a cuddly companion in time for Christmas?
Good timing, because a number of warm friends await at Whiskers in Wonderland, an adoption event taking place at two large Petco stores in the city.
Union Square's Petco was filled with adults and children alike cooing over the cats, kittens, and bunnies needing a new home on Saturday, where 30 different adoption groups, all part of the Mayor's Alliance for New York City's Animals, tried to find loving homes for stray and rescued cats and rabbits.
The Whiskers in Wonderland event lasts through Sunday, and Alliance spokeswoman Stephanie Mattera expected more than 4,000 people to attend.
"Usually at these events about 75 percent of the animals get new homes," she said, while cuddling up to rabbit Chili, who was up for adoption with her sister Pepper. Although it's an annual holiday event in its fourth year now, she said a pet isn't just for Christmas fun. "We hope people will want to help give a pet a forever home."
One of the cats going to a new home was Annabelle, who was found abandoned and taken in by Anjellica Cat Rescue.
The 1-year-old grey tabby was adopted by Thomas Berghuis, who has just moved to New York with his family from Australia. He said he was looking forward to having a pet in the house again.
"We have always had rescue animals," he said. "I have a 3-year-old and a baby coming, and so Annabelle is a great cat for us. She will be a Christmas present for the little girl."
Another kitty hoping to go home with a new family was Cringle, a four month old tom kitten. Cringle's cute and playful nature caught the eye of Murphy Penn, 9, who was looking for a cat with her mother Sasha Penn.
"I had a cat at my grandma's, but I want my own little one," she said. "I might change his name to Boo or Mr.Bubbles though."
Each organization had about 15 cats and kittens on display for people to pick from.
Barbara Tolin, a director at the Mayor's Animal Alliance, was helping out in one of the five mobile truck adoption centers stationed outside the Union Square store.
"We haven't had any adoptions yet, but hopefully whole families will be coming down to check us out," she said, adding that she expects most of the animals to be rehomed over the weekend. "Maybe it will be an early Christmas present for the family. We want people to give a shelter pet a home for the holiday."
Whiskers in Wonderland will take place through Sunday at the Union Square Petco, 860 Broadway near 17th Street, and a Upper West Side store at 805 Columbus Avenue at 99th Street. For more on the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals and the rescue groups, please visit the agency's website at www.animalalliancenyc.org.