Meet the 12 Cats of Christmas in Cedar Rapids, looking for holiday homes

CEDAR RAPIDS — I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need something sweet in the midst of my news feed. I hope this feature highlighting adoptable cats at Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control fits the bill.

Photographer Liz Martin and I visited the shelter on a recent afternoon, armed with ribbons, tinsel and boxes, hoping to charm some cats into posing for us.


The phrase “herding cats” was applicable here. Most of these felines were more interested in being pets than sitting still for the camera. Cats often have a reputation for aloofness, but these were all eager for attention, which highlighted to me more than ever the importance of finding good homes for them where they can get the love they need.

These kitties represent hundreds of adoptable cats at shelters throughout the Corridor. The city-run shelter has room to hold 125 to 150 cats and is pretty much at capacity. The shelter recently found a home for one of their longest-staying recent residents, a cat named Gianna, who was there for 11 months.

The Friends Helping Friends Foundation helps support the shelter, providing funds above the money the city allocates.

The foundation also coordinates volunteers who foster kittens, plus has a “cat help” program to follow up after an adoption. Volunteers will try to resolve any issues such as behavior problems or litter box use, part of an effort to keep adopted cats in their new homes.

Board president Kris Brown said one of her favorite parts of being part of the foundation is, “Helping the animals, whether it is a medical issue to help an animal, or helping to make their stay at the shelter better, such as enhancing the surgical suite at the shelter with lighting and dental equipment, to having an outside fenced-in enclosure play area for the dogs or kitty condos for the cats. It all boils down to helping animals however we can.”


I have to give a hat tip for the 12 Cats of Christmas idea to the Courier newspaper in Waterloo, which does an annual 12 Cats of Christmas photo spread. There are also at least two books of the same name and at least one song parodying the 12 Days of Christmas carol.

Need more pet photos in your life? Friends Helping Friends is selling a 2020 Paw Prints Calendar for $10, available at the shelter. The Cedar Valley Humane Society also is selling a holiday cat calendar for $10.

Produced by Iowa BIG students, sales benefit the shelter’s Cat Companions program and can be ordered online at, with pickup at the shelter, 7411 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids.

Comments: (319) 398-8339;

Photos: Check out a photo gallery of the cats, or scroll down for more

Adoption deals for the holidays

Animal Care and Control is currently running an adoption special to help more animals find homes. Adopters can draw an ornament marked with a special price from free to $75, which includes spay or neuter, initial vaccinations, deworming, flea/tick treatment and microchipping.

The normal adoption fee is $100 to $125 for cats and $125 to $200 for dogs. The shelter, at 900 76th Ave. Dr. SW, Cedar Rapids, is open noon to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. All adopters must fill out an application and be approved before they can take home an animal.

The 12 Cats of Christmas:









Ice Queen