Eight-year-old forgoes birthday toys for pet food

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LIVERMORE – Mikala Holt surprised her parents when they asked her what she wanted for her 8th birthday. Her answer: Cat and dog food.

“I like animals,” Holt said Thursday. “I want to bring the food to the shelter where we got our two kitties.”

Those kitties, Pads and Paws, are now 3, but she remembers when she got them from the Kennebec Valley Humane Society in Augusta and fell in love with them.

So the party invitations were made up, her request typed in.

Then she started worrying that the kittens might not get as much food as the dogs, she said.

“I expected more dog food than cat food,” she said. “Pretty much all my friends like dogs more than cats.”

She went to her mother, Lisa, and shared her concerns about the kittens going hungry if they don’t get enough food.

Her mother put out special requests for cat food.

Holt, a second-grader at Livermore Elementary School, sat at her dining room table with the front part of her brown hair done in 14 braids with alternating purple and orange hair holders, and looked out at the pile of food in the entryway.

There were bags of food ranging from 4 pounds to 22 pounds as well as canned food, kitty litter and even some bleach her friends thought of to clean litter boxes.

Friends and family came bearing the requested gifts for her birthday party April 23, some bringing food for both animals.

“It was kind of cool actually to see all the people bring in pet food,” Lisa Holt said Thursday.

Mikala said she started thinking about the special gifts after a friend had done something similar and she decided she wanted to do that same. She’s hoping the idea will catch on.

“I thought it was a good idea but wondered what her emotions would be when she saw all the cat and dog food because she is usually overwhelmed with gifts,” Lisa Holt said.

But her daughter reacted positively to the results.

“When I was outside playing and came back in and saw the big pile of food,” Mikala Holt said. “I said, Holy Cow.'”

Her father, Mark Holt, said “I just thought it seemed like a practical gift.”

She is looking forward to delivering her gifts to the animals, Mikala said, and is interested in getting a pet rabbit.

But mom and dad said, “No more animals, you have enough,” including Jake, her beagle, Gills, her fish, and her cats.

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