Earlier this year, a very skinny and skittish Siamese cat was spotted around Kingston, Ontario, struggling to survive on the streets.
When a Good Samaritan, concerned for the cat’s health, managed to trap the stray cat, it was clear that months of living on the streets had left their mark on her.
Thankfully, there was a place nearby whose sole purpose was to help animals in need: Happy Tails Farm Sanctuary, run by Carla Reilly Moore and her husband, and home to so many animals who have managed to transcend their pasts of pain and neglect.
This cat, newly named Sapphire, had more than just fear to overcome: She had crusty, infected eyes and a strange limp. At the vet, it was discovered that the cat had no microchip and had a broken pelvis.
“It could’ve been a car, or she could’ve been kicked, we just don’t know,” Moore told The Dodo at the time. “She’s been suffering by herself, alone in the streets for two weeks without any pain medication.”
Moore had her hands full. On top of her usual work caring for all the rescued animals at the sanctuary, she had just given birth to a baby girl, Mary, in May. But there was no question: The family’s newest member was Sapphire.
And the shift from scared street cat to a loving member of the family turned out to be more than an easy transition.
“While we are not a domestic animal rescue, we focus mostly on farmed animals,” Moore told The Dodo. “But for some reason when we received a call for Sapphire, we took her in, no questions asked. I found myself saying yes before I even knew what I was saying!”
At first, when Moore brought Sapphire home from the vet, the cat was terrified. She hid under the bed for 24 hours. Then, quite suddenly, she emerged — and she was ready to snuggle.
“Out of the blue she hopped up on our bed, quite awkwardly due to her pelvis, and went straight to my husband,” Moore said. “For the next couple of days she lavished my husband and then me while little Mary laid with us on the bed.”
As Sapphire was bonding with Carla, Carla was often taking care of Mary, holding her and nursing her. But that didn’t stop Sapphire from including herself. Indeed, the cat seemed more and more interested in the little newborn baby.
“Mary has a heart for animals just like we do. Not only does she live on a farm animal sanctuary, but Mary was born at home in the care of midwives,” Moore explained. “It’s completely normal for her to have four-legged friends surrounding her at all times. But something very special blossomed between Sapphire and Mary.”
At first, Sapphire would just sit down near Mary and make herself comfortable. “She would keep her distance but keep a watchful eye on her,” Moore said.
But then she started to get closer and closer. “We noticed very quickly that Sapphire seemed to start protecting the baby. Whenever the dog came by, she would hop up and run over beside Mary. It happened again and again,” Moore said. “Sapphire would run and stand beside the baby, with an erect posture.”
Then Sapphire started just snuggling up very close to Mary.
“We’ve never seen a cat do this before,” Moore said. “Their bond grew faster and faster. It was really unbelievable!”
Every time Sapphire curled up for a nap, she needed to be touching Mary.
“She just couldn’t seem to get close enough to her,” Moore said. “Then she started to wrap her arms around the baby. She’d snuggle her face right into Mary’s neck.”
When Sapphire can’t find Mary, she calls out to her and goes looking for her.
Now that Mary is 4 months old, and has had Sapphire snuggling up against her since she was just 1 month old, she is starting to clearly reciprocate Sapphire’s love.
“Mary is now able to reach out and very gently pet Sapphire, and in turn Sapphire rubs up and cuddles against Mary,” Moore said. “At just 4 months old, Mary knows who ‘Kitty’ is, and looks right at her when you ask her where the kitty is. She reaches out and touches her … It’s as if these guys have known each other forever.”
Even though Moore and her family connect with their rescued farm animals every single day, she never expected that such a deep bond would develop so quickly between these two individuals.
“This is a true love story. It transcends time, transcends species and may even defy logic,” Moore said. “Some may say this kitty needed us — that she was drawn to us because we were able to help her … But we say we needed her. We didn’t know we needed her, but we really did.”