COLUMBIA — On the periphery of the animal scene at the Boone County Fair, a group of four Columbia girls brought their own furry friends to share with the community.
What began as a group of seven kittens dwindled to zero Friday night.
Kaity Cameron, 18, bent down to tickle the scruff on one of the 2-month-old felines. She kept the kittens in a pen in the sheep and goat barn at the fair.
The kittens came from three litters and are all roughly the same age. The girls spent part of their night selling sheep, but they gave the kittens a tour during downtime, trying to find a new owner for each one.
“Free kittens!” they yelled.
The kittens came from a friend of Cameron’s mom. Cameron said she’d keep them, but her boyfriend wasn’t fond of having seven kittens. So, she decided to bring them to the fair.
The kittens were calico, striped and multi-colored. The girls started giving the kittens away about noon, and by 5 p.m., three were given to new owners. Ashley McKinlay-Remus, 17, said they gave the kittens to people who expressed a genuine interest in taking care of them.
Simba was the first to go. Julia Peterson, 14, said she didn’t think it was difficult for the kittens to be separated, as long as they would get plenty of attention and snuggles.
Emma Strawn, 8, tried to convince her mother to let her take home a kitten. “He likes to be cuddled up,” she noticed as she picked the kittens up one by one.
Next went Socks, a black and white kitten also known as Daemon since the girls each had different names for the cats. The aptly-named Tres was the third given away, a multi-colored cat also known as Pastel.
Aurielle Sisson-White, 18, gave baby Benadryl to Stripes, a multi-colored kitten that got stung trying to catch a bee. She waved her finger back and forth at the idea of failing to give them all away. “We’re not letting that be an option,” Sisson-White said.
Nestled in an overturned rubber container were Bella, a gray-striped kitten, and a calico named Tuna. Bigs or Jailbird, which got his nickname from his antsy behavior when he kept jumping out of his box, completed the gang.
While unknowingly perspective owners enjoyed the fair, the girls gave the kittens a break for food and water. They shared homemade bologna sandwiches, throwing little pieces of cheese, bread, bologna and turkey for the kittens.
The girls tried to specifically target people who walked up to them while they were holding the kittens, McKinlay-Remus said.
She traded the kitten named Bigs with Dawn Norton, a vendor, for a personalized necklace. Norton plans to rename the kitten Ash Bandit.
Stephanie Persinger, 16, of Rocheport, joked that now she would have a bunny, dog and a new kitten all in her bedroom.
“I like the coloring. That’s what attracted me,” Persinger said.
All of the kittens were given away by 7 p.m. “I’m sad that they’re gone,” McKinlay-Remus said. “But they have a better chance now because they are with people who like animals.”