A Tale of Two Kittens
I love being a volunteer in animal rescue. Don’t get me wrong, we face our fair share of challenges. We see heartbreak, we see the worst kinds of animal abuse and many of our days are filled with sorrow. We cannot save them all. If, as rescuers we only focused on the negatives we would become very jaded, very fast. So, we try to focus on the positive. At least, that’s what I do. I like to focus on the success stories and on the wonderful people who help us along the way. Recently, two very special kittens took front stage and center at PetitsPawz. Their story is one I will never forget. For me, it is more than a story of two kittens. It is a story of unbelievable teamwork, dedication and the amazing results we find when we all come together, working towards a common goal.
Juliette and Annie were found outside of a pet store with their brother Oliver in a duffel bag. They were found by Linda, one of PetitsPawz’ volunteers. The story began in late September 2013 when they were found and transferred to our care. If Linda had not taken the time to open that duffel bag, they wouldn’t have had that chance. Linda was their first guardian angel. Juliette and Annie were also diagnosed with Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH), a neurological disorder affecting their mobility. We knew right away that it was going to be a challenge to get these girls into the right homes. For the next month, Linda and her daughter Courtney bottle fed and took wonderful care of the kittens, but this was only temporary. They were soon transferred to Susan’s house, where they remained for another month. At this time, Oliver found a wonderful family to call his own. The two special needs girls remained, however. Susan became their second Guardian Angel and we began the search for a new foster home.
When Juliette and Annie needed an experienced foster home to take them in, Nancy-Ann and Francois were up for the challenge. We hit the foster jackpot! Not only are they experienced, they both really take the time to work with their foster cats. We pretty much found the best foster home out there. So, off they went. Nancy-Ann and Francois began working with the girls. For two hours a night, they practiced balance, they modified their litter habits and over time, both girls began progressing. Nancy-Ann and Francois became the girls’ third and forth Guardian Angels. We couldn’t have done this without them. At this point though, we weren’t having much luck finding the girls homes regardless of their progression. Something had to be done to get them seen by the world!
This is where Lisa stepped in. Lisa is a volunteer and amazing foster mom for us, but she also happens to be an extremely talented photographer. Without hesitation, Lisa offered to do a photo shoot with the girls. We never had to ask. Knowing that they were going to be harder to adopt out, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse and one we were so grateful for. The result was magnificent and she was able to capture them beautifully behind the lens. This is how Lisa became their fifth Guardian Angel. At this point though, the girls were about to turn five months old and we knew that once they were no longer kittens, the chances of them being adopted would drop by more than half. Not only were they special needs cats, they were also black. Adoption rates are very low for black cats, adult cats. It was crucial to find them a home. Ideal homes are hard to come by, so we tried harder.
Where am I in this whole story? Well, my job at PetitsPawz is to promote our cats. I update profiles, put together links and update our facebook page. So, throughout this journey, my job was the try and get people to notice them on social media. With the help from Nancy-Ann and the photos taken by Lisa, I created Annie and Juliette their very own facebook page. My job was made so easy that I can barely take any credit. These women did the job for me, I just showed off their great work. I was just happy to be part of their story. With regular updates, the facebook page really took off. It was right around this time that we received an inquiry for Annie.
Sanjay and Katy came along and they were almost too good to be true. A true love story, they are an amazing couple. The adoption was quickly approved and a meeting with Annie was set up. That day was a day I will never forget. The team was reveling in the success of Annie’s adoption once it was finalized. We were finally able to find the IDEAL home for one of our girls! Now we felt like we could do this!
And yet, Juliette was still waiting. Once Annie’s adoption was finalized, the facebook page created for both girls became a page for Juliette alone. Lisa (the fifth Guardian angel) decided it was time to take things into high gear and an adoption video was created for Juliette. Through tears and giggles, the final version of that video came to fruition in less than three days. The video, about 2 minutes long, showcases Juliette perfectly. Once again, we put her ‘out there’ on social media. Would it work? Less than 24 hours later, our questions were answered. It worked! That is all it took. I like to think of the facebook fans who shared Juliette’s video as her seventh guardian angel. The morning after the video was posted, we received an email. It began like this:
“Ok. I saw that video of that amazing baby girl. And I just fell in love. She remind me of myself. I have cerebral palsy and I am wobble on my feet and like her I dare give up. And why should we if we have all the love in world to give.”
Needless to say, this email was probably one of the best emails I have ever received. Was this even real? What were the chances? I am still in tears, just writing about it. We came in contact with Anne-Marie, who was more than ready to meet Juliette. Over the next few weeks, we fell in love with her and the family. Anne-Marie never gives up and although her life has been far from easy with her Cerebral Palsy, she is happy, strong and determined. Her attitude is amazing. We found so much inspiration in her story. Juliette suffers from CH, experiencing many of the same symptoms that Anne Marie does with her Cerebral Palsy. They can relate on a level that no one understands but them. Juliette had finally found the right person. After a ten day trial, her adoption also became official and Anne-Marie decided to change Juliette’s name to Angel. That is what she is, after all. Anne-Marie’s guardian angel. How fitting!
From September 28th to March 1st, the team at Petitspawz went through many emotions concerning these two special needs girls. But we never gave up! It took a LONG time, too. These girls taught us strength and persistence. Both girls are two of the happiest, most sociable kittens we have ever met. They showed us that as long as we worked as a team, we could get things accomplished. Juliette and Annie are proof of that. As rescuers, we should always remember the ones we DID save, rather than placing focus on the ones left behind. We can’t save them all. These are the stories that will get us through the hard days, I truly believe that.
A tale of two kittens.
Written by Laura Dextrase, Volunteer Coordinator at PetitsPawz Cat Refuge of Montreal