'Hemingway' cats with extra toes

Cat with polydactyl toesEvery day that Geno and Lela didn’t get adopted from the shelter in Mesquite, Nevada, was a conundrum. The one-year-old cats, striking black and white tuxedo in color, healthy and sweet, they had the unique cachet of being “Hemingway” cats. Both are polydactyl, meaning they have extra toes, just like the late author Ernest Hemingway’s famous cats at his Key West home. Though Geno and Lela quickly became staff and volunteer favorites, they had been waiting more than a month for someone to come in and adopt them. And in the height of kitten season, with more kittens arriving daily at the shelter, space is always at a premium. Available space means lives saved.

Networking to help "Hemingway" cats

The cats had a champion in Joanne Migliozzi, who volunteers with numerous animal rescue groups and shelters.

“These two cats, so laid-back and loving, absolutely deserved a great home,” says Joanne. “Mesquite is a bit isolated and many folks are traveling through to Las Vegas, so the limited exposure in the immediate area wasn’t going to get them adopted fast enough.”

Joanne reached out to Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network specialist Lezlie Sage to see if there were any resources that could help get these cats placed into homes, and Lezlie got the wheels turning as soon as she heard about the situation. The Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network is a program that works with rescue organizations and municipal shelters across the country to end the killing of dogs and cats in our nation’s shelters.

Heeding the call to help cats with extra toes

“While these adult cats are mostly black, and black pets can be overlooked in a shelter setting, they are wonderful animals with no issues,” says Lezlie. “I knew we could help open up those spaces pretty quickly.”

Lezlie organized a member message on behalf of the cats — an email to be distributed to Best Friends supporters beyond Mesquite. Shirley, a Las Vegas area resident, saw the message and was intrigued. She couldn’t stop thinking about the cats and about an hour after receiving the email, said to her husband: “We’re taking a road trip to get these babies.”  She couldn’t understand how such healthy, beautiful cats could be stuck in a shelter. With room in her home, she was ready to add them to her family.

Both tuxedo "Hemingway" cats are happy in their homeShirley renamed the cats Bonnie and Clyde, and they’re settling in well with her other pets. They especially love the abundance of food in their new home. “We have another cat and a dog and they are grazers, so we used to free-feed,” says Shirley. “Bonnie and Clyde will eat all the food available, so that’s the one routine we had to change. We now have a feeding schedule. We love them so much; it’s not an inconvenience.”

Lezlie is thrilled with the outcome. “Best Friends helps organizations in myriad ways and sometimes it’s our ability to promote a special adoption through a member message. That particular message didn’t just save two cats. It will allow the shelter to help many more.”

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Photos by Shirley