Life Lessons, resources, and random bits for rescue dogs, cats, bunnies, and their peeps

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Specials: Adopting A Cat Whose Owner Has Passed Away

Welcome to week seven of The Specials, a new series focusing on special needs pet adoption. Senior pets, those with chronic medical issues, behavioral or temperament concerns as well as overlooked or misunderstood breeds like Pit Bulls and black cats. If not for the kindness, courage, and compassion of their adopters, many of these animals would have been euthanized in shelters or died alone and hungry on the streets. Please check out past special needs adoption posts here.

Beautiful senior tabby cat gets rescued and adopted after her first owner passes away

Faith's final wish was to find "a retirement of gentleness" for Mango, her sole companion of many years. Friendship, loyalty, determination, and some synchronicity helped this wish come true. 

Faith was a well-respected child welfare attorney and many believed she would become a judge. But in her mid-forties, just after opening her own practice, Faith was struck by a massive stroke that left her paralyzed, unable to speak or move anything but her left arm. Because her insurance had not yet transferred from her former position to her new practice, she lost everything:  her home, all her possessions, her financial independence and even her much loved pets.

For the first eight years after the stroke, Faith lived in a nursing home. Fortunately, she was eventually able to move to a nearby assisted living facility. With no family and only a few close friends, she lived a primarily solitary and often lonely life. She longed for companionship and missed sharing her life with a cat. After much discussion and planning, a friend agreed to help her adopt a cat.  

Mango was nine years old when she was adopted. Prior to living with Faith, Mango had also been abandoned by her family - they were a perfect pair.

Mango a senior tabby gets a second chance after her first owner passes away

Mango was the love of Faith's life. Together they lived a quiet existence and were each other's only companions. Faith was able to type with her left hand and penned several articles for animal friendly publications about the importance of pets in the lives of the severely disabled. Although Mango was sometimes shy, she trusted Faith and spent much of her day curled up at her side. Faith's friends say that Mango gave her life joy and meaning when she had little left to believe in or love.

When Faith passed away in July 2014, her three close friends were determined to find a safe place for Mango. But Mango was 14, shy, obese and not exactly adoptable. Between the three of them they contacted over 50 shelters in the Chicago area. Many shelters did not respond, and those that did said no.

At that time, I was transitioning off the board of Red Door Animal Shelter. Although I wasn't as actively involved, I was still copied on all incoming emails. I didn't respond or even open very many, but for whatever reason, I opened the one about Mango. By the time the story reached me, there were only three days left before Faith's room was to be cleared and Mango out. I didn't think there was much hope, but I put a call out on Facebook as well as through some other rescue networks. Although the story was shared widely, only one person stepped forward to take Mango.  Amy already had two other cats and wasn't looking for a third. But she was touched by the story and after volunteering in many shelters, she knew Mango's chances were slim to none.

Mango a beautiful senior tabby gets a second chance and a new home because senior cats rock

A year and a half later, Mango has slimmed down and just had a great report from the vet. Aside from being on a restricted diet, she is very healthy for a 15 year old cat. And while Mango has never warmed up to Amy's other two cats, she seems content, peaceful, and relaxed in her new home. She has many comfy beds, lots of bright windows, and most importantly, "a retirement of gentleness" as Faith had wanted. 

I hope Faith is at peace and knows that the gentle soul who stayed by her side is now safe and loved by another gentle soul and that the cycle of kindness and compassion continues. 

Please consider fostering or adopting a senior or another special needs animal because second chances are amazing whether you are on the receiving or giving side. If you enjoyed this post, please check out my posts on adopting a paralyzed cat and adopting a puppy mill survivor. 


Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love. 
Mother Theresa
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56 comments

  1. I wish them a lot of luck that they find a forever home quickly ! I don't know where you live but probably far away !

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  2. What a wonderful story. We are so happy that Mango has his new home. Bless Amy♥

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  3. I hope that all this pets who lost their beloved humans find a new home with a lot of love. I remember that Dolly's mom adopted Rhette this way and later Taffy, the dog of her mum.... and I'm glad that Dolly's mom added them to her family :o)

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  4. i do love a story with a happy ending. so happy she has a home and she is beautiful... life without a pet is not a life to me..

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  5. I'm so glad Mango found a loving home. Bless Amy for taking her in!! Momma always says it gives her peace of mind that LBR ALWAYS takes dogs back if they need it for any reason, so we'd have a loving new home if anything happened to her.

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  6. What a lovely story, so glad to hear Mango did get her peaceful retirement
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

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  7. Another beautiful story in this wonderful series of yours. This is so touching. I'm so happy that Faith's final wish came true, and that beautiful Mango found the "retirement of gentleness" she so very much deserves.

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  8. I adore Mango's left paw for it is the color of mango like her nose. Healthy and fifteen truly a wonderful story. Companionship and love we must certainly all need those immaterial things the most valuable of all things.
    I truly love this series.
    Thanks for being a friend
    Sweet William The Scot

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  9. we are so glad Mango got a second and a third chance at a wonderful and well loved life

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  10. This is one aspect of pet ownership that is least focused on. I remember we were visiting a nearby beach town and posted in their local grocery store is a picture of a very cute kitteh asking for new home because its owner just passed on and the kitteh was currently in the care of a friend who couldn't keep it.

    Emma and Buster

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  11. Such a lovely story and such a beautiful cat. I'm glad she has a new home.

    Purrs xx
    Athena and Marie

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  12. Such a lovely story and such a beautiful cat. I'm glad she has a new home.

    Purrs xx
    Athena and Marie

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  13. Thank you Amy. Mango will know continued love because of you as she lives out her later years.

    the critters in the cottage xo

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  14. mango.....we R troo lee sorree yur mom left for heaven; but we are verree happee ya haz finded yur "retiremint" home...with Amy...blessings two ewe mango, & yur new mom as well, for stepping forward ♥♥♥♥...heerz two manee happee healthee yeerz a head ♥♥♥

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  15. Such a nice story. Hope every buddy finds there forever homes
    Lily & Edward

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  16. I'm so happy Margo found such a wonderful home. Adopting a cat or dog who's owners have died is an especially nice thing to do, they must feel so sad and lost.
    Lynne x

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  17. That's so tough. We've been there, done that, got Sister Precious!

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  18. There are some wonderful people out there, we'd love to adopt a senior, but three dogs is enough in our little house.

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  19. Mango is very beautiful ...we loved that this had the best of all endings.
    stella rose

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  20. Our greatest fear, as we age, is what will happen to our beloved pets if our time expires. It gives us great hope that there are wonderful people who will find new homes for our beloved

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  21. We are so glad someone stepped up for Mango.
    hugs
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

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  22. I'm glad Mango found a new home. In Portland, if you leave money to the humane society, I think they guarantee to place your pets in a new home.

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  23. Very well written story. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  24. It always warms our hearts when a kitty or doggie finds a furever home!

    Keep Calm & Bark On!

    Murphy & Stanley

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  25. We are so glad that Mango has gotten a "third chance." She is gorgeous!

    The Baby Boomer generation was the biggest pet-owning generation until last year, and we're afraid that it's stories like these that are making that generational shift. Cats (and dogs, too) who lose their owners are going to be a greater number in the years ahead, and it's something the rescue community needs to be thinking about now as a source of pet homelessness that isn't always considered.

    And your photos are gorgeous, by the way!

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  26. I know why you opened the e-mail that said Mango in it!! That was a fabulous piece, and we couldn't agree more. Thank you!

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  27. Oh we're so glad Amy decided to take sweet Mango in and give her a home.

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  28. What a beautiful heartwarming post! Mango is a beautiful cat! Such a blessing for her to find a loving home. <3

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  29. I really enjoy your specials series. ♥

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  30. What a heartfelt story. We were reading with tears in our eyes, tears of sadness, but also happy tears. Good Luck Pawkisses to all :) <3 <3

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  31. I'm crying... what a sad yet beautiful story

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  32. So happy for sweet Mango. I'm grateful that Lisa gave her the loving home she needed.

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  33. I am fortunate to have Amy as a close friend. Mango is in a wonderful home now with Amy, who truly is the kindest person and is taking great care of her. Wishing all the pets out there waiting for loving homes to be as lucky as Mango is.

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  34. Another beautiful and inspiring story. You tell them so well too.. we can feel the love. What a sad thing to happen to Faith then to take in Mango. She was a very special person. God bless Amy for seeing that Mango could live out the remainder of her years in a loving home.
    Hugs madi and mom

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  35. What a heartwarming story. I'm sure Faith would have been pleased to know the cat she took in and loved found a second chance.

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  36. oh this made me cry!!! What a sweet kitty but my heart breaks that she lost her beautiful human named Faith. I know of people who adopted a pet after the owner passed. My Vet got his current cat that way. One of his clients passed away (she had cancer) and she begged him to adopt her cat and he did. I love what you wrote "I hope Faith is at peace and knows that the gentle soul who stayed by her side is now safe and loved by another gentle soul and that the cycle of kindness and compassion continues."
    Thank you for sharing this most beautiful story!
    catchatwithcarenandcody

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  37. Such a good story. We helped rehome a cat whose human had died unexpectedly. It's a great feeling.
    —Purrs (and wags) from Life with Dogs and Cats

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  38. Thank goodness Mango is safe and happy now!
    love
    tweedles

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  39. I am glad a kind person stepped in to rescue Mango.

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  40. What a beautiful happily ever after for Mango. We adopted our Angel Maggie after her owner was struck with very serious health issues.

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  41. Oh my goodness, my heart breaks for Faith. How awful to have endured so much loss. I'm glad beautiful Mango has found a place to live out her senior years, bless that woman for taking Mango in.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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  42. Oh my goodness, my heart breaks for Faith. How awful to have endured so much loss. I'm glad beautiful Mango has found a place to live out her senior years, bless that woman for taking Mango in.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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  43. Beautiful story and post. What a wonderful, happy ending for Mango.

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  44. What a beautiful story... a loving home for Mango, and peace for Faith.

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  45. Mango helped Faith when she needed it, it's only right that someone helped Mango.

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  46. It's important to make plans for pets "just in case" (not only those who are of a "certain age"). I've had two instances in which colleagues my age passed away very unexpectedly, without plans for their pets...very sad, and thankfully, the pet community rallied in these instances. But as your story illustrates, that's not always so. Glad that things are looking up for Mango.

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  47. I'm so glad that Faith's friends were able to persevere and Mango got a second chance.

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  48. How wonderful of Faith's friends to not give up on finding Mango a new forever home.

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  49. Wow, what a story. I'm so glad Mango was saved, and Faith got her wish - I know how difficult it is for cats, even as kittens, to ever find even one good home because there's just so many of them.

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  50. , I am quite sure My wonderful 7 yr old Tabby Companion will Outlive me by a long Shot. I have isolated myself over the years and don't know what will become of him when I'm gone. We Love each other So much. I don't want to leave him, but my bones are old and tired. What has brought me so much Joy & Happiness is causing more Heartache now than I can stand. God Bless the Loving Pets You have Put on the Earth to Keep some of us from being Lonely...

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  51. That is such a great post. And so glad it was a happy ending. That Mango was a lucky boy. I am going to keep looking for that CatofMine lady.

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  52. great story, we have often discussed what we will do when Jake dies, if we will get another dog, and the reason is we are OLD and what will happened to the pet after we die. I don't see any way to find her, she has no blog.

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  53. What wonderful friends to find a new and loving home for Mango.
    Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx

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  54. We are so happy that Mango got the loving forever homes he so deserved.

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