Faces of No-Kill: Injured cat finds comfort in new home

June the cat wearing a pink collar and sitting on a counter in what looks to be a veterinary exam room
June the cat went from being found alone dragging her back legs to a shelter and then to nightly snuggles in her new home.
By Andrea Pitts

The Faces of No-Kill series highlights stories about pets who have become a statistic in the best way. These are just a few of the many pets who once slipped into danger; they lost their homes, they had health or behavioral challenges, their families couldn’t care for them, or all the above. But each one of them got assistance, and today they are thriving thanks to an animal shelter program that helped them rather than killed them. Best Friends’ goal is for every animal shelter and every community to reach no-kill by 2025. The story below is just one example of why it’s so important.

When June arrived at a county animal shelter in Georgia, the 9-year-old toothless cat could barely move. She had been found dragging her back legs behind her. A physical exam and X-rays showed June had a broken pelvis.

To make matters worse, each time the shelter’s veterinary staff placed June under anesthesia to get a closer look at her injury, her vitals would crash, making it very difficult to wake her up again. Naturally, this complication scratched surgery off the list of possible treatment options for June.

Veterinary staff members remained persistent and eventually found the right medications to reduce June’s pain enough for her to voluntarily begin walking on all four legs. Once she was more stable, she came to Best Friends in Atlanta for the next phase of her life, including a new home.

Resilient cat arrives at Best Friends

Our goal at Best Friends is for all shelters to reach no-kill, and taking in pets like June is one of the ways we support our partners in saving lives.

“We knew we had the ability to give her a chance to have a good life, and she deserved it,” says Aatallah Muhammad, Best Friends coordinator of lifesaving outcomes in Atlanta.

The Best Friends team in Atlanta knew June’s best chance for a positive healing experience would be in a foster home. So they began talking with volunteers they knew could handle June’s medical needs and shower her with love. Fortunately, a chance encounter with a special person would soon bring a bit of good luck June’s way.

Nighttime cuddles and a beautiful friendship

Lauren Burgess was already fostering a cat from Best Friends when she decided to attend an adoption event in search of more opportunities to help animals in need. While there, she ran into a familiar Best Friends staff member, who asked her whether she was interested in fostering another cat. Lauren had no idea this person had a very special cat in mind just for her.

You guessed it — the special cat was June. “When I first met her, it was clear she needed some TLC, but my roommate Jill and I decided to do it,” says Lauren.

[Cat proves it’s never too late to begin again]

When June first came to Lauren’s home, she was very curious about her new surroundings and wanted to explore every nook and cranny she could find. Her past injury didn’t appear to stop her from doing anything and going anywhere she wanted. June’s curiosity did not extend to interacting with people. But as an experienced cat person, Lauren knew it was best not to push June far beyond her comfort zone while she was settling into new surroundings.

June appeared to be OK with sharing her space with the other cat Lauren was fostering. But once he was adopted, June seemed to be perfectly content to be the only cat in the house.

Over the next few weeks, a new relationship began to build between June and the people in her life. Lauren explains how things unfolded: “We never forced her to sit on our laps or picked her up. We let her come to us. She warmed up to me first, then my boyfriend, and then to Jill.”

[Kitten seizes life on two legs]

Before long, June began requesting attention from Lauren in the form of nightly cuddles and what some may call “love bites.” Yet because June has no teeth, “love bites” doesn’t really fit when describing her unique way of showing affection. Instead, Lauren lovingly refers to them as “nightly nubbins.” “Every night when I watch TV or read, she will give me tiny nubs on my fingers. It’s so adorable,” says Lauren.

A beautiful friendship began to form between Lauren and June during their cuddly evenings together — so much so that Lauren couldn’t deny the feeling tugging at her heart, telling her June was meant to be a permanent part of her life. So she called the Best Friends staff member who matched June and Lauren together weeks earlier and informed her that there was no need to continue looking for a home for June. She was already right where she belonged. The adoption was made official that very day.

June finds her stride at home

It’s been three months since June first met Lauren, and their relationship continues to grow stronger by the day. “She’s such a mama’s girl and very spoiled. She has claimed all my favorite blankets as hers and loves to be on my bed. I’m working on getting stairs for my bed to help her get up to her favorite spot all on her own,” says Lauren.

During a recent visit to the vet, June stole the show. “She had the attention of the whole vet’s office. Everyone came up to meet her and couldn’t believe how active she was,” says Lauren. June is now given a monthly injection to keep her pain under control and a special diet for senior cats that she clearly loves, as mealtime is one of her favorite parts of the day. Food and treats are second only to one thing: nightly nubbins and cuddles on her favorite person’s lap.

Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill by 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets. Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.

June the cat sleeping on a fluffy white cat bed
Photo courtesy of Lauren Burgess

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