Pet Tales

How a kitten brought joy to a dying woman and her family

Wendy and Rusty enjoy some time together.
Wendy and Rusty enjoy some time together. Courtesy photo

Cathy Enns, founder of North County Paws Cause, sent in this touching story of Rusty, a kitten who brought comfort to a family in their time of need.

The Gift of a Kitten

“When you think about animals helping people through illnesses, chances are dogs come to mind. Some of the best therapy animals are small canines like pugs and poodles. A big lug of a Lab can be a good choice. But sometimes, the right animal for the job is a kitten.

“Paws Cause, an organization serving cats in North County, found this was the case a few months ago when they spoke with Bonnie, a San Luis Obispo resident, whose sister, Wendy, was in hospice care. Waging a tough battle with cancer, Wendy had decided to decline further treatment. Feeling at a loss the way we all feel when a loved one is suffering and there's not much we can do, Bonnie determined to get her sister a kitten. Specifically, an orange kitten. Wendy had a tabby cat, Red, years ago in Greece, and the two shared a deep bond. Bonnie felt that finding a sweet little one to bring back those happy times was something she could do to make a difference for her sister.

“A kitten Paws Cause was fostering, called Junior, fit the bill. Of course there were hurdles to cross, such as where Junior's permanent home would be — and how long he could stay with Wendy each visit since she could not ‘own’ a cat while in hospice. Bonnie and Wendy's entire family stepped up, and Junior, renamed Rusty, spent time with lots of different relatives who committed to his care. Bonnie said, ‘He seems to be at home wherever he is.’

“The best thing is Rusty turned out to be exactly the gift Bonnie was searching for. Wendy adored him, according to Bonnie, who commented ‘He's the best medicine my sister could ever have.’

“Wendy recently passed away. Bonnie let us know that when she took Rusty to see Wendy one last time, he lay next to her and kneaded the blanket, bringing a smile to Wendy's face.

“Now that Wendy is gone, Rusty's job is not over. Bonnie has discovered how much she adores the little scamp and realizes what a joy he is to her as a companion and reminder of Wendy. Bonnie and Rusty look forward to the future together.”

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