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In July, The Newtown Bee introduced readers to a small but powerful cat named Benny Brightwater who was cared for by Kitten Associates, a charitable rescue company based in Sandy Hook.
In the article, “Lucky St. Patrick’s Day Kitten Thrives After Being Diagnosed with Swimmer Syndrome,” “Robin AF Olson, President / Founder of Kitten Associates, shared Benny’s harrowing story of medical adversity.
Benny was born on St. Patrick’s Day and after a few days it was clear that he had not developed as his siblings did. Robin received a call and despite the COVID-19 pandemic that was a difficult time for the care organization, she came to Benny’s aid to give him the medical care he needed.
He was found to have swimmer syndrome, which means the muscles in his hind legs were not properly developed. It was later revealed that he also had a hole in his heart that would make surgery risky.
Fortunately, Kitten Associates has experience working with special needs cats and knew the perfect foster parent for Benny, his siblings, and mother: Rachael DeMaida. She had recently adopted Flapjack Shortstack, who also dealt with swimmer syndrome, from Kitten Associates and knew about the physical therapy Benny needs to thrive.
During Benny’s care months, DeMaida and specialists were able to greatly improve his mobility.
“We were able to have him neutered at VCA Maple Ridge Animal Hospital … because of Benny’s heart, we took every precaution we could think of,” said Olson.
Fortunately, Benny did not have any complications from the operation and was still the happy self. Benny and his family were then all eligible for adoption.
However, no applications were received for Benny and his brother Ellington Cuddlysmythe. The two would have to be adopted together because they were extremely connected.
“We decided that they just have to be together. I knew this was going to be especially difficult and it would be a long time before they found their home forever, as potential mobility issues in the future and his heart is a lot to ask, “said Olson.
The COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to the unique situation, which resulted in Kitten Associates temporarily closing extra-state adoptions.
Then, in October, Olson received an email from Claudia and Jeff Morris inquiring about Ellington. The retired couple’s current cat, a 13-year-old Lynx-tip Siamese named Ramen Noodle, is a polydactyl like Ellington that caught their attention. The only catch was that they lived outside of the state.
Olson was overwhelmed by the courtesy of the message and that they understood that Ellington and Benny were on a package deal.
“You respected our wishes and that helped me a lot… You know that Benny will have a follow-up examination in January. You are ready to do so and take the cost, time, and effort. They like to adhere to our feeding guidelines for a fresh diet. They switched their cat’s ramen diet to a fresh diet. You’re wonderful, ”said Olson.
Olson and DeMaida were on a house call with the prospective adopters through Zoom, and they both agreed that the couple was a good match.
Olson also had a separate chat with DeMaida before the decision became official to make sure she is safe saying goodbye to the two cats she has been caring for for months.
“You can’t be bound by doing this,” said Olson.
DeMaida made the selfless decision to say goodbye, knowing that by doing so she would be able to care for and help more cats in need in the future.
“It takes a brave heart to do something like this. She put so much love into these cats. She never shied away from it, and because of her, the cats are now the most wonderful, gentlest, happiest, cuddly and friendliest cats, ”said Olson.
The official farewell took place on Halloween and it was a happy day for everyone involved.
“The look on Claudia’s face told me everything,” said Olson. “She was just stunned. Their smiles lit up their faces. You can really feel it in your heart when it is the right adoption. “
Since then, Olson has received updates from the Morris family on Benny and Ellington, now called the Bento Noodle and Udon Noodle, respectively, to match the noodle-themed names.
“You fall in love with him very much … you are in love with both cats. She actually used the word ‘possessed’, ”said Olson. “I know that you will have a good life with these people. To be honest, I couldn’t have asked for more. “
More happy tails
The good news is that not only were Benny and Ellington recently adopted, but their sibling, Cornelius Crumbpickle, as well.
Deb Weisman, DVM, MS, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Surgeons of Newtown Veterinary Specialists, and her husband Scott Schifilliti adopted Cornelius (now called Pickle).
Olson shared, “They say, ‘He’s the best cat ever!'”
Now the only member of the family waiting to be forever home is the kittens mother, Luna, who is cared for by Jessica Moynihan.
Olson stated, “Luna is about 14 months old. She has huge front paws with extra toes [polydactyl], bright green eyes and weighs only 6 pounds. She is very small! She’s a gentle, loving lap cat who’s also pretty playful – still a lot of kitties.
“She gets on really well with other cats and the dog in the foster family. She tends to be submissive and calm. One of our cutest and easiest foster cats we’ve ever had. Would be best in a quiet home with a feline friend, where she can get lots of love. She is in excellent health [with] no known issues, ”she continued.
Those interested in adopting Luna or another Kitten Associates cat can visit the group’s Facebook page, facebook.com/kittenassociates, or the Petfinder page, petfinder.com/pet-search?shelter_id=ct431 .
Kitten Associates is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit that relies on donations to continue serving cats in need. A tax deductible gift can be made through Venmo @kittenassociates or by mail to Kitten Associates, PO Box 354, Newtown CT 06470-0354.
For more information about Kitten Associates or to make a donation, visit kittenassociates.org.
The reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at email@example.com.
From left, Kitten Associates is caring for Rachael DeMaida with Benny and Ellington’s adoptive parents Claudia and Jeff Morris on “Gotcha Day” October 31st. – Photo by Robin Af Olson
The brothers Benny, left, and Ellington were recently adopted together and are inseparable, even cuddling together when they sleep. —Rachael DeMaida photo