Laura Fenn writes about working in the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Tylertown, Mississippi, after Hurricane Katrina:
My most important duty was helping out in the “Kitty City” section, where I fed, scooped litter and gave lots of love to the frightened and lonely cats sitting in stacked cages lining the walls. Some were so terrified that they cowered and shook when I put a bowl of food in their cage. Others were so lonely that they’d reach through the bars and put their paws on your shoulder as you passed by. My first duty was to coax a sick kitten to eat baby food from a spoon. My heart melted on the spot. She had soft white fur and the saddest little face I’d ever seen. I cuddled so many cats that week, but this little kitten and I quickly formed a special bond. I started calling her “my kitten.” Since she was about three months old, they determined that she’d been born around the time of the storm – one of many kittens that were being rescued in NOLA by that time.
(Corner of Dorgenois and Louisa, July 2010)
On November 29th, a Hazmat team working in Gentilly found her under a car – the only living thing around for blocks. She was so hungry that she wolfed down a can of spaghetti. They then called Best Friends to come pick her up. Grace, a volunteer from Atlanta, came to get her and took her to Tylertown where they started nursing her back to health. By the end of my week, I decided to adopt her. Her original name was BFC 2864, but I predictably renamed her Katrina. She has blossomed into a beautiful, soft and fluffy cat, who looks like Hello Kitty. I love her so much, and the way we found each other makes me feel especially attached to her. Whenever I see those aerial images of the flooded streets, I try to picture her down there and wonder how she managed to survive for three months before her rescue. What happened to her siblings? Her mother? She was probably chased by dogs, because she flips out at the mere scent of dog. I was in New Orleans about a month ago and made a trip to the corner where she was found. It was desolate and probably looks today like it did four years ago. I would give anything to be able to find and personally thank the Hazmat guys who had the kindness of heart to rescue her. I would love for them to see the results their effort. I wonder if they remember her and if they ever wonder about her. I am eternally grateful to them. Because of them, she has a safe happy home. She has enriched my life immensely. Of all the thousands of Katrina stories, this is just one small one, but part of the fabric of Katrina’s history. There are so many ordinary people who became heroes simply by giving a little effort and time to help. Together, they made an astounding difference. I wish I could have done more – I was too afraid to climb under houses and scale roofs to rescue animals, but I knew I could be of use for just one week at the shelter. I’m grateful so many others knew they could too.