Kitten becomes poster girl for pet adoption

Olivia the kitten peeking out from an orange tube
Olivia had an injured eye that made her path to a home longer, but she had a friend who always saw and shared the best in her.
By Christina London

Olivia came to the Best Friends Pet Resource Center in Bentonville, Arkansas, from a local cat rescue group when she was about 2 months old. It was clear that the tiny tabby had already been through a lot in her short life. She’d experienced trauma to her eye and face, and though the veterinary team determined the injury didn’t cause her pain, her affected eye would always be a bit smaller, darker, and partially closed.

This little injured kitten could have become a statistic. She was born at the height of kitten season, when shelters are inundated with kittens and even healthy little ones can be at risk of being killed for lack of space and resources. But luckily, she came to a rescue group that has partnerships with other organizations, including Best Friends Animal Society. That’s one of the most important ways communities across the country are achieving no-kill — by working together to save pets who need extra time or care.

[Foster caregiver drawn to cats with special needs]

At Best Friends, Olivia had spay surgery and then went for a short stay in a foster home. She did experience a few setbacks, including a yucky fungal infection, but she overcame it all. Soon, she was healthy and ready to go to a loving adoptive home.

It’s showtime

Olivia wasn’t the only kitten ready to join a family. Far from it. It was late summer, so the pet resource center was flooded with kittens born that spring who were now available for adoption.

Best Friends caregiver Kim Endicott says Olivia was bashful at first but quickly came out of her shell. She also got along great with her fellow felines. However, any time Olivia found a new playmate or snuggle buddy, they would quickly be adopted. People enjoyed meeting Olivia — she always modeled perfect manners — but they would ultimately choose another kitten.

“Several times, we got down to one or two other available kittens and Olivia,” says Kim. At one point, Olivia was the only kitten in the whole building.

Her time would come. It just took a bit longer than it did for the many other kittens who came and went from the adoption room, sometimes going home the same day they were available for adoption.

Ready for her close-up

Olivia’s sweet personality tugged at Kim’s heartstrings as the days went by. She wanted this special kitten to grow up in a home, not at the pet resource center. So Kim created a poster all about Olivia to help her stand out. She used splashy colors to attract attention and highlighted Olivia’s best qualities: her friendly demeanor, playful nature, and resilient spirit. She also wanted people to know that Olivia’s eye condition wouldn’t require extra care.

Not long after, Olivia caught the eye of Mandi Griggs. Mandi’s family was looking for a cat who was equal parts playful and patient. Olivia was the perfect fit.

[Volunteer makes a big difference for tiny kittens]

“When our 4-year-old was playing with her and letting her lick his hand, we knew she was the one,” says Mandi. She didn’t learn about Olivia’s rough start in life until later, “but it didn’t matter. She was already a Griggs!”

“I am excited when any animal finds a home, but having Olivia leave the pet resource center with her own family that day was especially rewarding for me,” says Kim. “These days are why I do what I do.”

Today, Olivia’s family can’t picture life without her. She loves her food and toys, especially balls and marbles. She sleeps with her people at night and in the brightest sunbeams during the day. (Mandi says she’s always moving, so the only time she can snap a clear photo is when Olivia is taking a snooze.) Olivia can rest easy knowing she’s exactly where she belongs.

Let's make every shelter and every community no-kill by 2025

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.

Silhouette of two dogs, cat and kitten

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You can help end the killing in shelters and save the lives of homeless pets when you foster, adopt, and advocate for the dogs and cats who need it most.

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