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Myles the former barn kitten

My in-laws have a farm and on this farm they have barn cats. Barn cats are basically living mouse traps and nothing more to the in-laws. They get no love and very little medical care. My wife Tiffany told me about a runt from one of the three litters of about 12 to 15 kittens that needed us. We already had four cats ranging in age from 3 years to 11 years old and had no plans to add another cat to our family. But this kitten would probably die without our help. So we talked it over and Tiff took a video of the kitten when he was not yet weaned and had about 10 days before he would be ready to leave his mother... that is if he lived that long. Five days later he was eating kitten food so we adopted him at seven weeks old but our vet said he was the size of a four week old and only weighed 1lbs 6oz (.045 kg). Myles had some medical issues but now at 13 weeks old he is healthy and is having the time of his life running around the house playing with his new Daddy, Mommy, two big brothers and two big sisters. The photo is of Myles on the first day we had him right after his first bath.

Fred and Tiffany West
Hart, MI

Taming Tinkerbelle

One day, a kind lady came into my pet store with two very young, feral kittens. The lady had managed to catch the kittens and save them from whatever had killed their mother and siblings. She asked if a rescue would take the kittens. Unfortunately, the rescues were full. The kittens were in a plastic crate. I peeked in. They were squished into one corner of the carrier, eyes wide, ears flattened. Their little faces were beautiful, almost angelic. My heart melted. I already had a cat, a small spaniel and a chinchilla. The last thing I needed was to add two feral kittens to the mix. But that is exactly what I did! I told myself, I would vet and socialize them. Then, I would find them loving homes.

I set-up a kitten space in my closet. They lived in that closet for six weeks; choosing not to venture out. Finally, the braver kitten began creeping out to explore. After a while, her shy sister followed. I named the shy one, Tinkerbelle; her sister, Dixie. The kittens began to accept food from my hand. They played with toys. They chased strings with the chinchilla. In time, Dixie became social and ready for her forever home. Tink still had a way to go. Three months had passed since I brought Tinkerbelle home with me. I had the opportunity to move away. I had one month left to tame her before I departed.

From the start, Tinkerbelle loved me and though it scared her, she craved attention. The week before my move, I invited a sweet couple over to meet her, hoping she would love them too. They visited my home three times. Each time, Tinkerbelle hid. In the end, the shy kitten moved away with me.

I've had Tinkerbelle for over 2 years. Tink loves to snuggle. She rolls over to have her belly rubbed and purrs with delight. Sometimes, she behaves like a perfectly normal cat. Then a visitor knocks. She runs and hides. When my visitor leaves, she reappears. Ready to play, to snuggle, to be loved.

Oak Park, IL

Finally Home

After losing my best friend and companion of 14 years, Queen (shepherd/Lab mix on dec. 19th 2015, the only way I could make anything positive of it was to save a life in need. After scouting many shelters and rescues far and wide for a good fit I finally came upon an older dog who had been a street dog in Oklahoma her whole life. Nobody wanted her so the rescue decided to ship her to Wisconsin to try to find her a home. After being bounced around in different fosters, I found her picture and set up a meet and greet. She was listed as lab/shepherd mix, but did not look anything like my Queen. I was surprised at her small size when she entered the room. The foster seemed anxious to find her a home. I knew she had found her forever instantly. She was very friendly and I had brought her a treat which she gobbled up is record time. After all the paperwork was signed and the fees paid, she was in the suv and headed for home. It turned out she was about 6 and had worn all her front top and bottom teeth away from scrounging any food she could to feed her pups which she had in a brush pile where she was living with 3 other dogs and their pups. She was loving, but coward when we would try to pet her. Her remaining teeth were in horrible shape and a dental was done. No telling the horrors this girl had experienced in her street years. She hated the cats at first and my daughter. It has taken much love and patience and overlooking a few bites to gain her trust and confidence. I said I would never give up on her. When she entered my home, it was for life. She has adjusted quite well, although I don't trust her with young children or other dogs too much. I know her distrust is from past experiences and she will never have to face those situations again. She is finally home.

Melrose, WI

One Determined Lady

In September of 2014 I was putting up the Halloween decorations in the yard when my daughter and her boyfriend pulled into the yard. With them they had the most emaciate cat I had ever seen. This poor soul could not even stand right. We live in the country and have saved strays and feed the Ferrell's, so she had been found by the right humans She wobbled from side to side. She was spayed and declawed. Every bone showed and her fur was so dingy and dirty. The vet was convinced she had some kind of disease to be that thin and wobbly .He did not hold out much hope for her, but she was determined and so was I. He found that she had 2 missing canines and determined she had some bad experiences but was very friendly. She had either been dumped or had wandered away. All tests were clear, and after weeks of TLC she finally put on the much needed weight. After checking with missing sites to no avail, "Luna" became a permanent part of the family. She is now an overweight 4 year old who rules the roost over the other kitties(whom she despises and the dog (whom she loves). She is one determined lady who beat the odds in the wilderness alone and found a loving home. We are so blessed she found us.

Melrose, WI

The Church "Marvel"

My husband and I had just arrived at church one Sunday morning, and as I stepped out of the truck I heard a faint cry coming from the grass. I walked over to find a tiny grey tabby kitten covered in grass burrs. I took him in to the fellowship hall and tried to feed him. As I watched him move around, I noticed that he couldn't walk straight, and when he would try to play, his front leg flopped limply from side to side. I was helping with children's church that morning, and due to the near perfect "M" on the kitty's forehead, the kids decided we should name him Marvel.

I took him to the vet as soon as I could, and the x-rays showed that his front leg was broken in three places, and the back leg, on the same side of his body, was broken once. The vet couldn't believe that he was in such good spirits, much less moving around. She told me that due to the severity of the front break, Marvel would probably always have a limp, and that the leg and foot would never be straight. The poor little guy was in splints for over a month, with instructions not to run, jump, or play. (FYI - It is hard to contain a 6 week old kitten.)

Over the next few weeks, we have watched him grow into a high flying acrobat of a cat. Even with the splints, there has been no holding him back. Now with the splints off, the only time you notice a limp is if he walks, which he rarely does. His leg is almost perfectly straight, as is his foot, and he is perfectly healthy and happy.

He has truly been a little Marvel.

Samantha Elliott
Chatsworth, GA

Poor "Buddy" the fox pup

As I was driving to work one morning on a very busy road, I noticed an animal on the shoulder of the road that had been hit. However, as I passed it, it popped it's little head up. I immediately stopped, turned around, and drove back to this little creature. As I approached I saw that the little guy was a fox pup. I grabbed a blanket from my trunk and cradled the pup and put him in the car next to me. By now, I was petting my new friend Buddy and telling him all would be okay. I pulled over and called every vet I could Google but I was told they were not allowed to treat wild animals. Blessedly, one vet told me about the local wildlife rescue and I immediately drove there as fast as I could. As I was already bawling while petting Buddy, I could not get there fast enough!

Having arrived at the wildlife center, the wonderful people there took Buddy in and assured me he would be okay. He was banged up pretty badly, but with some time and healing, Buddy would be good to go in a few weeks. He'll never be able to be in the wild again, but he will remain at the rescue center for kids and people to enjoy as they learn about our wonderful wild creatures.

Lora B
Media, PA

Kylo Bear aka Baxter aka George....

We already had two other dogs (Puggles), we were definitely not looking to get a third. That wasn't the plan. Plans change though, there was a dog out there that needed us as much as we needed him. I heard about this 7 year old Puggle named "Baxter" that was in a kill shelter about 250 miles from where we live in Plantation, Fl, from a FB rescue page. His owners didn't want him, and he'd been in the shelter for almost a month. Something stood out. Not just because our other male dogs name was Baxter, but something in this sweet boys eyes, his big brown eyes. I told my husband, we have to get this dog. He was on board and drove the entire 4 1/2 hour trip there and back in one very long day. From the moment I laid eyes on him, I knew it was meant to be. He got along pretty instantly with my other two dogs, a 7 year old and almost 9 year old Puggle. He didn't respond to the name Baxter, so we decided to call him George, and then my 5 year old son quickly renamed him "Kylo", and it stuck. What we didn't know about Kylo was how severely mistreated, abused and beaten he had been at his prior home. It took him a whole week until we finally heard the most beautiful Beagle howl in the world. He had a limp and had bed sores from being confined all the time. He tired after walking 1/2 a block. All that changed, now he goes on regular walks with my other two, he howls happily all the time, no longer cowers in fear and he actually learned to swim. To think, this poor fellow was just going to be put down for no other reason than his previous owners were done beating on him and decided they no longer wanted him. He is an integral part of our family now!

Plantation, FL

Meant to be

We decided to adopt a dog (okay, a more "intimidating" dog than our yappy, 20 lb pomapoo), after an attempted break-in at our new house. We visited our local animal shelter, and after walking through the kennels we met Nikki. She was a gorgeous pit mix, and my husband was in love. We decided to take the night to sleep on it. The next day we headed to Petco to get something else, and the shelter was there with some of the animals to adopt out. Well there she was. We adopted her right then and renamed her Gracie. I have to admit I was a bit nervous, due to the stigma surrounding pits. I watched Gracie like a hawk around my young children for weeks. My very loving, well intended, uber-energetic 2 yr old gave her a run for her money. Gracie became a jungle gym, a couch, a pillow, and the best friend to her. She has been sat on, tugged on, and hugged nonstop, and she has never shown a lick of aggression towards any of us; but is very protective of us. Gracie is the sweetest, most loving, and gentle dog ever. We are so glad that she has become part of our family, she is a perfect fit!

Bremerton, WA

Little Kitty the foster fail.

Two adult cats at the shelter needed to be fostered. We took them in.

They were nice enough cats - Mister Kitty, an orange and white lump who nervously peed on things, and Little Kitty, a badly matted tortoiseshell with a horrible respiratory infection. We kept them for a bit, worked with them as one does - they'd certainly make nice additions to someone's family, we thought. Especially Little Kitty, who was beginning to show her cattitude as she recovered from the infection...

We had once owned a Persian who was the sassiest girl you would ever meet. She was the mistress of the house, no questions asked, and remained that way until she finally told us, at 28 years of age, that she was ready to cross the Rainbow Bridge. There could never be another cat like her, not in a thousand lifetimes.

Except now there was. Little Kitty, with all her grump and sass, was a dead ringer in everything but color for that lovely lady we once had.

I told myself I wasn't going to keep her, even as I introduced her to the resident cats now that she was well enough to mingle. They all got along as well as one can expect, came to enjoy one another's company, and yet I kept insisting - I didn't need another cat. I didn't.

But one day I saw her in the hall, laying on a neon green mouse-shaped toy, looking at me with those eyes - the "you are my human" eyes.

I gave in.

Now named Branwen, she's fat, loving, and still just as sassy as her predecessor. She likes climbing up on my chest and rumbling her breathy purr in my face. She doesn't meow, she chirps - and does it in the most demanding way. She's lovely and I'm glad I decided to keep her.

Kai Lowell
Dubuque, IA

The surprise cat.

My family had just recently completed a move from Colorado to Iowa. A terrifying train ride, the hassle of settling into a new place, trying to put down even the smallest of roots put it bluntly, I was a mess. I was still mourning the fact that we were unable to take our cats with us when we moved; I can only remember a very few short times in my life there were no pets in the household. I didn't like it in the least.

Then one day, my parents came home, said "Here, have a cat," and placed the most beautiful ball of fur and fear in my lap.

Rika was perhaps two years old, skin and bones, matted so badly she could hardly move, terrified of everything, and obviously somewhat ill. An examination at the vet showed her to have polycystic kidney disease - and a condition called feline cutaneous asthenia, which basically meant her skin was so thin it could rip if she even groomed herself too hard. And it would just keep on ripping, as the two inch-long, stapled gashes on her elbows proved when we had her shaved completely down.

I wasn't going to give up. She didn't like to drink - I got her a fountain. She starved herself when I tried to change her to a good food - I persevered. She disliked grooming - I coaxed and cajoled.

Rika is now six. Her kidney function is normal. Her skin has improved immensely. She loves lap time, brushies and terrorizing the other cats. She takes prednisolone every few days for allergies and has improved 100 percent. She is my fluffy baby, my savior, and I'm so glad to have her.

Kai Lowell
Dubuque, IA
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