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Anissa VonRueden


Sthéfanie from Brazil was alerted by her dog when she heard barking coming from the backyard. As she got closer to the fence, she saw a little kitten soaking wet from the rain, shaking like a leaf.

She grabbed the kitten and walked door to door to see if she belonged to someone, but no one claimed her.

Supplied by Júlia Braule

When her friend, Júlia Braule, heard about the kitten's plight, she offered to help. After picking up the kitten, named Luna, she headed back home, knowing that she would have to convince a member of her family to keep the cat.

"My father, like me, loves and always wanted a cat, so he said 'Yes,' but my mother had that stereotype about cats being mean and cold creatures, so she wasn't so thrilled with the idea at the time I brought Luna home," Júlia told Love Meow .

Since the kitten was already there, Júlia's mother reluctantly agreed and gave her daughter two days to find the kitty a new home.

Supplied by Júlia Braule

"The moment Luna arrived, she was purring and exploring the whole house. My dog (Cookie) was scared of her at the beginning, and my mother wasn't happy about it. However, that changed in no time."

While Júlia was searching for a home for Luna, the little tabby girl had a plan of her own.

Supplied by Júlia Braule

The next morning Júlia's mother woke up to the sweetest kisses and purrs from the kitten. For the rest of the day, Luna decided to follow her around the house, play with her, nap on her chest and watch her cook in the kitchen.

"My mother fell in love with Luna so fast and deeply that even I was shocked! By the second day I could feel that she really liked her, and she even started saying that we had five members in our family (me, mother, father, dog and cat)," Júlia told Love Meow.

"So you can say that I did find her a home in two days!"

Supplied by Júlia Braule

Their dog, Cookie, also accepted his new feline sister, and the two became bonded friends.

"Luna was immediately drawn to him, always wanting to play with his tail or fur but Cookie ran from her at first!"

Supplied by Júlia Braule

"It took some time but now they play together and take naps together," Júlia told Love Meow.

"Luna even cries when my father takes Cookie for a walk!"

Supplied by Júlia Braule

Luna loves to offer everyone help when they are working.

Supplied by Júlia Braule

"Most of the day she is all cuddly with us and always by our side but sometimes she has these high energy moments and runs around the entire house."

Luna and Júlia's father watching their favorite show together.

Supplied by Júlia Braule

"Luna loves when my mother is writing something so she can play with her pen and steal her attention," Júlia told Love Meow.

"She has been with us for about two months now."

Supplied by Júlia Braule

The little tabby adores everyone in the house, but the person that she clings to the most is Júlia's mother, who used to say that she would never have cats.

"My mother loves her kitten and is glad that Luna is ours now. She even sends me pictures of her when I'm not home, saying how cute Luna is."

Supplied by Júlia Braule

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Related story: " Ten years ago, grandparents agreed to take care of my cat while my family was away... I still haven't gotten him back. "

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Anissa VonRueden


Local TNR (Trap-neuter-return) volunteers spotted two kittens wandering around with their cat mother in a neighborhood of Los Angeles.

"When they trapped the kittens, there was a surprise."

Jacqueline DeAmor

A few weeks ago, Jacqueline DeAmor, co-founder of Friends for Life RescueNetwork came across an online post about two kittens needing rescue. She immediately offered to take them.

When rescuers of Luxepaws went to trap the feline family, they were expecting two kittens and their mama but were surprised by what they found - a total of five kittens, one female and four males.

The feral cat mother was spayed and released. The kittens were then taken to Friends for Life RescueNetwork . "During the first few days, they were frozen in fear. They stayed huddled in a mass of fluff and hissed every time I walked in the room, got close to the crate, or put my hand inside," Jacqueline told Love Meow .

They were named Harlem, Bronx, Lenox, Ellis, and Hudson. Harlem was especially fearful of humans. She would swat out of survival instinct when she saw anyone near her.

Jacqueline DeAmor

Over the next two weeks, they began taming and socializing the kittens with plenty of treats, food, and lots of "purrito" snuggles where a kitten was wrapped in a soft blanket and given snuggles and pets.

"They had their first purrito snuggles about a day after their rescue. They were wide eyed in fear. I could feel them shaking like a leaf," Jacqueline told Love Meow.

Jacqueline DeAmor

After about 5-10 minutes, the kittens would start squirming in an attempt to break free from the cuddle. That's when Jacqueline put them back to their "security" fur pile and went to socialize the next kitten with the same snuggle method.

"With lots of patience, love, attention, and food, they all started purring one by one. Ellis was the first one." ( Scroll down for video )

Ellis the ginger kitten Jacqueline DeAmor

In three days, the feline siblings had gone from cowering in the corner, huddled up in a bunch to slowly becoming more comfortable with their caregiver around.

The kittens reached their first major milestone when they would eat in front of Jacqueline. "When they were super terrified, they would only eat when I wasn't in the room, but once they started to settle, they would creep forward for food, eyeing me wearily," Jacqueline told Love Meow.

Jacqueline DeAmor

Raegan Carter, a foster carer from San Diego, took them in so they could learn to adjust to living in a home.

Soon after they moved in, all five of them took refuge under a chest of drawers in the bathroom. Raegan had to move it out of the room so she could get to the kittens and continue socializing them.

Raegan Carter

During the first few days, the kittens decided to stay in a pile behind the toilet in the bathroom despite all the room they were given.

They all fell asleep together, hiding behind their security block.

Raegan Carter

Lenox the fluffy tabby mustered enough courage to venture out of the kitten pile, but that didn't last long.

"He was terrified when I came toward him."

Lenox the kitten Raegan Carter

Raegan was hopeful that the kittens would come around. She continued to make herself present around the kittens, bringing them food, treats and lots of fun toys. Slowly but surely, the kittens started to come out of their shells.

They would play with their foster mom in the morning after a hearty breakfast, and the braver kittens began to show interest in some cuddle time with their foster mom.

Harlem Jacqueline DeAmor

Ellis the ginger broke out of his shyness and crawled right into Raegan's lap.

He loved it so much that he would stretch out his little paws up and down in the air while purring up the storm.

Ellis Raegan Carter

Then one after another, the kittens found themselves standing a bit taller, exploring the room without worries in their eyes, and purring a whole lot louder.

"I got hisses right when I walked in the room, but it was all purrs and head butts after they settled down," Raegan said.

Lenox Raegan Carter

Hudson smiled at the camera before running up to his foster mom for some pets.

Hudson Raegan Carter

No more fear in their eyes. The five feline siblings have found their brand-new confidence, and they can't stop purring.

"They have gone from scared street kitties to happy purr babies," Jacqueline told Love Meow.

Raegan Carter

Follow updates on these foster kittens on Instagram @ arthurs_recruits . Follow Friends for Life RescueNetwork on Facebook and Instagram .

Watch these kittens' rescue journey in this video:

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Related story: Feral Kitten With Sorrowful Eyes Steals Couple's Hearts and Learns to Love

Lysanne Krajcik

Image: Grizzly sleeping

As I’m packing the kids’ lunches, trying to meet a deadline and squeezing in a trip to the gym, my dog is cozy in his bed, snoozing away, without a care in the world.

If you’re a dog owner, I bet you’ve had the same thought cross your mind: How great would it be to be him?

Here’s why I’ve often wished I could be my 14-year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever for a day.

1. All the sleep. As the owner of a senior dog, this is the most obvious to me. Grizzly’s day consists of the following: waking up, eating, then sleeping by my feet before my morning deadline. Looking for food from my daughters when they get up. Sleeping. Looking for scraps at lunch. Sleeping. Watching for possible food as dinner is made. A nap before bedtime. If I could get as much sleep as he gets for just one day, I think I would be set for the week. I’m jealous when I see how comfortable he looks in his many beds (or in my spot on my own bed), while his little feet race through his dreams.

2. No work to do. While I watch him sleep, I’m usually working, and it's hard not to feel a bit of envy. I mean, I love my job, but he has no deadlines, no sources who aren't returning his calls, no challenge to come up with new ideas. No dishes, laundry or vacuuming. He basically has nothing he has to do, just things he wants to do. (Like, as you may guess by now, sleep.) Lucky guy.

3. Everyone’s happy to see him. Imagine walking down the street with everyone smiling at you, oohing and ahhing. Family members (and visitors) racing to see you as soon as they walk in the door. Smiles from people walking by your house even as you bark at them from the fenced-in yard. Just about everyone is happy to see a sweet, friendly Lab. It’s like he’s Norm on Cheers. Every time he walks into a room, it’s “Grizzly!”

4. The little things delight him. Walks, treats, rides in the car. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. They’re merely the basics of life, but they bring such joy to dogs — every. single. day. Seeing the leash is exciting. Playing hide-and-seek with treats is exciting. Cleaning out the kids’ lunch boxes (when there are only dog-safe food bits left, of course)? Thrilling! If those things could be that mind-blowing to us every day, imagine how awesome life would be.

5. He doesn’t have a worry in the world. There is only one thing that concerns Griz: when he will get more food. But there’s not really any justification for his apprehension — he never misses a meal. And beyond that, he doesn’t seem to have anything that weighs on his mind. Then again, maybe that’s why he’s so good at taking any worries off my mind.

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Amiond

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Anissa VonRueden


A 3-week-old abandoned kitten was rescued from a cat colony. No one was able to calm her cry until a 10-year-old boy put her in his arms and told her everything would be OK.

Zack tries to comfort little Ariel the kitten Kelli Gross @kittyfoster_

Little Ariel the kitten was found in a cat colony in California. She was left behind by her feral cat mother and was taken into MeoowzResQ , a rescue group in Orange, California, while waiting to be placed into foster care.

When Kelli Gross (@ kittyfoster_ ) learned about the kitten's plight, she immediately offered to foster her as she already had a rescue cat mother nursing six kittens of her own.

Kelli and her 10-year-old brother, Zack, went to pick up the kitten from the vet. When they met her, they heard the loudest cry coming from a tiny little body.

"She was going crazy and wouldn't settle down," Kelli told Love Meow .

Zack tries to comfort little Ariel the kitten Kelli Gross @kittyfoster_

No one was able to calm her down, so Zack put the kitten in his arms and started talking to her softly while giving her kisses and pets. Eventually little Ariel fell asleep in his lap. ( Scroll down for video )

"He put a blanket down in his lap and bundled her up. She was sound asleep and didn't make a peep during the whole 30-minute car ride home."

Zack tries to comfort little Ariel the kitten Kelli Gross @kittyfoster_

They introduced Ariel to Twilight the cat mom, hoping the kitten would latch on and start nursing. Mama Twilight took to her right away and began grooming her as her own, but Ariel kept squirming away and was not able to nurse.

"Because my coordinator had bottle fed her for a day, the kitten had to learn to nurse from a cat mom again," Kelli told Love Meow.

Every time Ariel moved away, Zack gently put her back by the mama. "He kept putting her back until she learned to nurse again."

Ariel the kitten and her surrogate mom Twilight Kelli Gross @kittyfoster_

Once Ariel latched on, it was the happiest moment for the little fur baby.

"You can tell how truly happy she is and you can hear her purring," Kelli told Love Meow.

Ariel the kitten cuddling with her surrogate mom Twilight Kelli Gross @kittyfoster_

Zack shares a very special connection with every foster that comes through the door.

"He has a routine of waking up and telling them good morning every day before school and then coming and kissing every single one goodnight before bed. He makes sure that they all feel included.

"He misses them when he's away and they're the first thing he says 'Hi' to when he gets home from anywhere. He just makes it effortless and you can tell that it's actually ingrained into his heart."

Zack cuddling with one of the foster kittens he cared for.

Ariel has been in foster care for a few days now, but she still runs to her foster mom for attention and love.

"She screams at me to give her milk. She's extremely needy," Kelli told Love Meow.

Ariel demands attention right meow! Kelli Gross @kittyfoster_

"She was malnourished at first but has now almost caught up to the weight of the mom's original six babies."

Watch Ariel's rescue journey in this cute video:

Zack has helped his sister foster over 100 kittens in the past two years.

"Teaching kids to be kind with animals has always been so so important to me. The kittens I deal with are usually the youngest ones the shelter has and are so fragile, and my brother is amazing with them," Kelli said.

"I love having a kid around while my fosters grow up in case they go into forever homes with kids, then they'll be comfortable already!"

Zack bottle fed a hungry foster baby

Look at those ear wiggles!

Zack bottle fed a hungry foster baby!

Share this story with your friends. Follow little Ariel and her feline family on Instagram @kittyfoster_ .

Related story: 14-year Old Boy Dives into Overpass to Save Cat Hanging Over Bridge - Kitty Clings to Him for Life

Anissa VonRueden

Image: Silver vine ThinkstockPhotos-665764360 335

Cats seem to rely on their noses to understand the world more than we humans do. Cats detect smells and sense pheromones (chemicals produced and released by other cats) through their olfactory systems. For confined cats, appreciating the importance of their sense of smell can greatly enrich their environments, which generally means a happier cat.

Some cats find certain plant odors attractive, the most common example being nepetalactone from catnip (Nepeta cataria). Catnip’s effect results exclusively from its odor rather than its taste, and it is generally believed that it is not addicting or harmful to cats. For confined cats, catnip can be used as “olfactory enrichment” in the cat’s environment to improve their welfare and to make their lives more interesting. Cats typically respond to catnip (the so-called “catnip response”) by sniffing, licking and biting it; shaking or rubbing their head, chin or cheeks against it; rolling over in it; drooling; and even kicking at the material with their hind feet. This response has been described by some as “euphoric.”

Catnip Isn’t King

Interestingly, catnip is not the only plant that some of our feline companions find attractive. Some domestic cats are also attracted to silver vine, Tatarian honeysuckle, valerian root and Indian nettle. This is fortunate, because about one out of three of domestic cats do not respond to catnip. While the allure of catnip is well-documented, a recent study investigated cats’ responses to some of these other lesser-known plants to provide support to anecdotal reports.

Of the 100 cats studied, almost all (94 percent) showed a “catnip response” to at least one of the four plants in the study. The largest percentage of cats, 79 percent, responded to silver vine, whereas 68 percent of the cats responded to catnip, 53 percent to honeysuckle and 47 percent to valerian. What's more, 24 percent of cats responded to all four plant materials; 21 percent responded to only one of them. Silver vine was the best alternative to catnip. Interestingly, despite the popular reputation of catnip, more cats in this study responded to silver vine. Responses were similar among both females and males, shy or friendly cats and across age groups (although the response to catnip, but not the other plants, was milder among older cats). Cats (especially the older ones) that responded to silver vine also responded to it more intensely than to catnip.

There also are some smells that cats seem to ignore and some they seem to actively dislike. These smells include citrus, strong cleaning products, some perfumes, air fresheners and cigarette smoke. Of course, likes and dislikes are very individual things, for a variety of reasons. For example, some cats appear to be genetically unable to sense catnip, and some scents may be associated with good or bad experiences in the cat’s past, just as they can be in humans.

Can Cats Smell Their Way to Wellness?

The best approach when trying to determine what scents might be beneficial for our cats is to simply “ask” them about their preferences. Offer some of the scented materials outlined here in a closed sock, one at a time, to try and enrich her surroundings. Watch her response to each one carefully and always check the safety of using each material with your veterinarian first.

You may notice that your cat acts differently when new scents are introduced. She may be attracted to or avoid places where the new scent lingers in your home, which she views as “her” territory. Your cat may also start to act differently around you if you change a personal scent. If you notice these behaviors, stop “sampling” the scent immediately so as not to add stress to your cat’s environment.

As with introducing anything new to your cat, be sure to supervise her the first few times you offer a new scent, especially if you have multiple cats. Also realize that sometimes these scents may make your cat more excitable for a few minutes. If she seems to be enjoying the scent, give her plenty of space and don’t attempt to pet her until she is tired out and relaxed. Interest in scents also fades with time, so be sure to remove any samples that you give your cat to play with as soon as she loses interest and offer them again at a later time. It is also worth mentioning that some cats just don’t seem to be interested in scents for whatever reason. For these cats, there are plenty of other enrichment opportunities to try until you find out what your cat likes best!

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Anissa VonRueden

Image: Trixie in carrier

I never expected my cat, Trixie, to buddy up to my dogs. To be honest, I was more focused on teaching her to love my husband. But somewhere over the last few years, she’s adopted my two dogs — Rudi, a Lab mix, and Hollie, a hound mix — as her BFFs. And it is adorable.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s not all purrs and snuggles all the time, although she does bathe Rudi’s face on a semi-regular basis. Trixie and Hollie, my more excitable (and much louder) dog, are still working on exactly how to play together, but they seem to have figured out that some gentle batting (on Trixie's part) with some play bows (by Hollie) can be a lot of fun.

It's clear that Trixie truly enjoys the company of her canine siblings — possibly more than she enjoys my company. She follows them out onto our lanai, strolling around the enclosed pool cage as the dogs make their rounds in the backyard. And once the dogs come back in, she’s hot on their heels as they head into the kitchen for treats. Whenever I leash up the dogs for a walk, she trots over, seemingly hopeful that she could join us. And she's always waiting right at the door to greet us when we return. All she seems to want is to go on a walk with her family.

So I started thinking about how I could make that happen.

Working Toward a Walk

The problem was that I knew from previous training sessions that Trixie was a bit fearful of anything above her. She loves a good petting session, but only if she’s up on one of her perches or a table. The ground — even if I’m down there with her — doesn’t feel as safe or secure to her. Because of this, I had a feeling that walking her on a leash outside the house would be a no-go.

However, that didn’t mean an outdoor adventure with her pack wasn't an option. I decided to try a front carrier, which is kind of like a backwards backpack. I was hopeful that a front carrier would let me keep an eye on her and make sure she remained comfortable and calm during our outing. I knew I wanted an open carrier so that she could really look around, but it was important that it otherwise be enclosed (i.e., no feet dangling out) and that it offered a way to secure her by clipping onto a collar or harness. I opted for the Outward Hound PoochPouch.

Then, all I had to do was train Trixie to hop in and enjoy the ride.

I’ll be honest: It remains a work in progress. We’re not exactly going on long walks around the neighborhood as a big, happy family (at least, not yet). But with patience, we have reached a point where I can settle Trixie into the carrier and walk around the yard with her and the dogs for a few minutes. Here’s how we got there.

Image: Trixie checking out carrier

Step by Step

1. Let her get used to the pouch. While Trixie has never been one to hide when I bring her regular carrier out, she’s also not exactly in love with it. The first step was just to make sure that the presence of the new pouch carrier didn't freak her out. I made a point to leave it sitting out near some of her favorite spots. I sprinkled some catnip in it. I wore it while sitting on the couch, allowing her to investigate in a safe way. She’d come up and sniff it, maybe rub on it, but I didn’t pressure her to get in. I put some of her favorite treats inside it, but that wasn’t enough to entice her to crawl in. That wasn't a surprise, though, based on our previous experiences with her and carriers. She's really not a den cat. She doesn't even like boxes!

2. Introduce her to the idea of getting into the pouch. We always feed Trixie on top of her cat tree, and while she normally just jumps right up there, she’s not averse to us carrying her over to it on occasion, because, hey, food! So, I started wearing the pouch while carrying her over to her food. I didn’t put her in the pouch, but I allowed her back feet to rest on it while I supported her body weight, just so she could feel that it was secure and that I was still there for her. So far, so good.

3. Next came the big test: Encourage her to actually get into the pouch. The previous steps went smoothly as can be, but this… this was a little more trying. I began by placing her back feet in the pouch on our usual walk over to her food bowl. It didn’t exactly thrill her, but she didn't try to escape. The first time I walked out onto the screened-in lanai with her partway in the pouch, though, she was clearly less thrilled — her body language indicated stress, and she made movements to get out — so I quickly obliged. A few more tries — always with more catnip sprinkled in before, and always with rewards like treats or special wet food provided after — and she began to get used to the idea. Then, it was time to take the whole show outside.

4. Venture outdoors with Trixie in the pouch. With her harness secured to the safety attachment in the pouch, I made my move from the lanai to the yard. Trixie initially seemed a bit surprised to find herself in the great outdoors, but mostly she appeared interested in what the dogs were up to. We've only extended our outdoor adventures to a couple of minutes at a time — the moment Trixie seems startled or at all uncomfortable, I head right back in and set her free.

It's not a walk, but it's a start! And I remain hopeful that it'll lead to us being able to take a safe, secure (and short) little walk with all of our four-legged friends this summer.

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Anissa VonRueden
A young kitten got a second chance at life at an animal shelter in Arlington, Virginia. Firefly was very pregnant when she arrived at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and gave birth to five adorable kittens. Not long after, the shelter took in an orphaned kitten who was about the same age as Firefly’s litter, and decided to see whether the new mom would accept the little guy into her family. “It was immediately clear that Firefly didn't mind having a new kitten one bit — she let him nurse right away!” the shelter said in a Facebook post with a video of the cat family.
Anissa VonRueden
Firefighters are often called on to help free kittens from car engines. But a crew in Indianapolis found a litter of three in the hose bed of their own truck on Tuesday. The firefighters kept hearing chirping noises and found the newborns — two boys and a girl — huddled together in the back of Engine 35. They believe the mom crawled inside the engine while it was in the shop and gave birth, but they couldn’t find her anywhere. The firefighters wrapped the tiny kittens in blankets and brought them to Noah’s Animal Hospital, where they’re being bottle fed. They will be available for adoption in about eight weeks. — Read it from Inside Edition via Yahoo

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