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The Cats Meow

Mitchell, Patricia

There's no mistaking two of Patricia Mitchell's personal interests. As soon as you enter her immaculate apartment, both of them come over to check you out.

You are cool-ly and blatantly assessed. After inspection, in a friendly, yet condescending way, you may be allowed (nay, given the privilege) to stroke their back, chin and whiskers. Then, you will be accompanied to an antique chair, while one settles onto the couch, and the other (mission accomplished) returns to the bedroom.

"Jackson" and "Rigby" are cats from the other side of the tracks. You would never know it, but they haven't always lived in this eagle aerie 21 floors above Vancouver's downtown, with a jaw-dropping view, and a room filled with antiques and oriental art. Eleven years ago, these two tabbies were each rescued by the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), and adopted by Mitchell. Under his luxuriant coat, Jackson still bears a few scars from his past, courtesy of a run-in with a raccoon.

Mitchell's love of animals is present in everything she does. For one thing, she doesn't eat them anymore. Mitchell is a pescetarian, which means she eats fish and seafood, but no meat. She also volunteers her time as a member of the Vancouver Foundation's Animal Welfare advisory committee. She even pet-sits for friends.

"Animal welfare is a cause very close to my heart so I do what I can," she says.

Mitchell goes further than many. She has willed half of her estate to Vancouver Foundation, and particularly to fund the people and organizations whose mandate concerns animal welfare.

"A few years ago, I was going traveling, and wanted to update my will. My financial advisor serves on one of the committees at Vancouver Foundation. He suggested the Foundation as an option… I hadn't heard of them before, so I asked to attend a few meetings, and was very impressed with what I saw."

Mitchell did her research. She attended a meeting of the Animal Welfare Committee - one of nine fields of interest within Vancouver Foundation - and was impressed by the discussion and the expertise of the volunteer members.

"They're set up to administer funds over the long term," says Mitchell, "and to monitor them, and to vet the applications when they come in".

"I like to be a positive force," she says. That would explain why Mitchell volunteers so much of her time, whether it's fund-raising, helping to maintain a community garden in Kitsilano, on-call work at the Alzheimer Society, or serving meals at Christmas. "I guess as I get older, I'm more concerned with trying to help, either people or animals."

Jackson, tired of listening, purrs sleepily on her lap.

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