CLINTON — Since receiving a cat companion without a paw, 8-year-old Kambria Occhipinti took it upon herself to give back to other felines in need.
Kambria said she can remember loving cats since she was age 2 and now has three in her life: Chunky, Tooki and Peggy. Peggy, a former barn cat, is a brown Tabby and an unfortunate accident with a lawn mower caused her to lose her front right paw. Eventually Peggy was brought to Clinton Pet Vet Rescue & Sanctuary, where Kambria and dad Shawn Occhipinti met the challenged kitty. Peggy is about 4-years-old.
“She has sharp nails and she doesn’t like her belly rubbed,” described Kambria of her pet. “And she likes to lay with me and watch TV. Her favorite things to play with are her moving toys and her laser” light.
On Sept. 29, Kambria celebrated her eighth birthday, but instead of asking for Barbie dolls or the latest tech gadget, the Clinton Elementary School pupil said she wanted to collect money, food, supplies and treats for needy felines now living at the shelter where she and her dad were able to adopt Peggy.
“It was all her idea,” said dad Shawn Occhipinti of raising donations through his daughter’s birthday. “She said she didn’t need any toys — that she had all she wanted — and that she wanted to help the cats” at CPV.
Through her efforts, Kambria collected food, cleaning supplies, toys and other needed items, as well as $2,050 in donations. Most support came from family and friends, and dad even reached out through a social media post on Facebook, asking others to help out.
When Kambria isn’t hanging out with Peggy, she also has Chunky and Tooki with mom Kira, her step-dad Dan and little sister Kylin. Her favorite subject in school is science and she enjoys cracking open geodes with her dad in his workshop because, “I like finding what’s inside,” she said.
Kambria is also an avid dancer and is enrolled in ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop classes at Empire Center of Dance in Marcy. When she grows up, Kambria said she’d like to become a gymnastics coach/instructor.