Were it not for the kindness and involvement of many, this little feral kitten would have met a sad end. Instead, we have a cross-border love story with all our favourite elements: triumph over adversity, an unlikely meeting, a fairy God Mother-like cheer squad, and, ultimately, the happiest of endings. This is the story of our Star Cat winner…
The odds were against Marmalady from the start. Born on the streets in Southern California, the deck was stacked against her—the threats faced by feral kittens are notoriously legion. Unfortunately, disaster, in the form of a car, did indeed strike. How a tiny kitten survives a run-in with a moving vehicle is a mystery, but survive she did, dragging herself off the road and secreting herself in the bushes. Two days would pass before the mewling, grievously injured kitten was discovered by two little girls. Hearing meows, they crawled into Marmalady’s hiding place and carefully carried out the wounded kitten.
Marmalady was then taken to a place that helps cats in need, the rescue group The Cat House on the Kings (CHOTK), located just south of Fresno in Parlier, CA. She was so badly injured that the team there were doubtful she could be saved, but they took her to the vet regardless. It was determined her left front leg would have to be amputated—the prognosis wasn’t good, but they would try.
Meanwhile, more than a day’s drive north across the border in Canada, Laura Lemieux was following the Facebook page of The Cat House on the Kings from her home in Sooke, BC, on Vancouver Island. When Laura saw a post about a feral kitten that had been struck by a car and was going to have to have her left front leg amputated, she sent a donation and continued to follow the kitten's progress; it wasn’t long before Laura realized she’d fallen for the little cat. She’d had a disabled kitty before and felt she could handle the tripod situation just fine. Laura decided to submit an adoption application. As it turned out, many people were following Marmalady’s story and over 20 others had also applied.
“I waited and waited,” Laura shares, “and the night before I was to leave on vacation, I was informed I was the successful applicant. The funny thing was that part of my vacation was going to be a tour of the CHOTK facility.” Now she was also going to pick up her new cat.
“Our connection,” Laura reports, “was immediate. Picking her up was the best part of my vacation!”
Marmalady was to have an instant family. Laura has six other rescue kitties, as well as a ten-year-old German Shepherd named Tilly. Marmalady fit right in and didn't let her disability slow her down one bit.
“Tripawds are no different than a kitty with four legs,” Laura asserts. “They don’t see themselves as disabled and go about their daily activities just like any other kitty does. I have two tripawds and both are missing their left front legs. The only adjustments in my home involve some strategically placed stepstools to facilitate their getting down from things. They have a bit of a limp when walking but I can assure you that they run like the wind. Special-needs animals just need a bit of consideration as to their physical needs and then they just carry on.”
Laura has definitely vastly improved Marmalady’s life, but the favour hasn’t gone unreturned. Laura has found herself the center of a wider community that advocates for feral and tri-pawd cat adoption, spay and neuter initiatives, and rescue in general.
“Our visitors have come from Vienna, Austria, Arizona, New York, and locally from Vancouver Island too,” Laura shares. “I have met up with others at CHOTK open house events where we pitched in and helped. I’ve made some amazing new friends who also work hard in their communities helping and volunteering with various rescue agencies. Our common bond is our love of animals and belief in helping where we can to make a difference in their lives.”
“A lot of people say that Marmalady is so lucky that I adopted her,” Laura adds. “I think it’s the other way around. I’m the lucky one.”
Miss Dixie: From Feral to Fantastic
Miss Dixie was a feral cat living in the parking lot of a Winn Dixie grocery store, taking refuge behind the soda machines and surviving by eating out of the dumpster. When Helena, Alabama resident Rita Bowman finally succeeded in capturing her, she named the feral cat for her grocery store provenance and got her vetted. Rita then brought Miss Dixie home in order to attempt to tame her enough to adopt out as a barn cat. This plan, however, was not to be.
“I am a terrible foster failure,” Rita laughs. “Once I got her home, I knew she would be a part of our family. I have seven other rescues—thank goodness my husband loves cats!”
Miss Dixie is still very shy with strangers, but will follow Rita and her husband around the house, play with her toys and the other cats, and sit beside Rita while Rita attends to Miss Dixie’s Facebook pages. Through Facebook, they’ve raised thousands of dollars for cat rescue. Inspiration courtesy of Miss Dixie doesn’t stop there. While Rita was undergoing months of chemo last year for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Rita set to writing a children's book that depicts Miss Dixie’s life.
“I felt that if we could reach children with the message that all life matters then perhaps feral and stray cats may have a chance,” says Rita.
Each day they sign off on Facebook with the closing comment “Love and Calico Kisses,” a sentiment we’re sure Miss Dixie wholly endorses.
Fubu: Black is Beautiful
Say hello to our second runner-up, Fubu, aka Momma's Little Lover Boy!
Kimberly Holt and her daughter Brittany fell for this now 16-year-old “babydoll face” Persian when he was just 10 weeks old.
“We fell in love with just one meow,” says Kimberly. 2013, however, brought some unwelcome news—Fubu was diagnosed with stomatitis and ulcerating cancerous tumors in his mouth. Due to age and asthma, Fubu wasn't a good candidate for surgery; his vet reported Fubu would be lucky if he made it to Christmas.
But in a miraculous turn, 20 months later Fubu is still living life to the fullest.
“I'm so blessed to still have him with me…he still plays like a little kitten and even goes shopping at Petco!
Kimberly uses Fubu’s Facebook page to give hope to others facing tough times—their motto is “Never give up; keep fighting; there’s always hope!” They are also passionate about upending the stereotypes and myths surrounding black cats.
“A black cat shouldn't be the last to be adopted because of his fur colour,” says Kimberly. “Black cats are wonderful companions and very loving in nature. Fubu is my best friend and I don't know what I'd do without him—I love Fubu more than life itself. We would love for everyone looking to adopt to give a black cat a chance—you won't be disappointed, we promise!”