When a good Samaritan brought a skinny and shy Siamese cat to Happy Trails Farm Sanctuary, Carla Reilly Moore could see that she needed some special attention. The cat appeared to have been fending for herself on the streets of Kingston, Ontario, for several months, and the ordeal had taken a toll on her health and attitude toward humans. She had crusty infected eyes and a limp, which was caused by a broken pelvis.
“It could’ve been a car, or she could’ve been kicked, we just don’t know,” Carla says. “She’s been suffering by herself, alone in the streets for two weeks without any pain medication.”
The cat seemed to resent the human contact, and the farm was not set up to care for domesticated animals. Plus, Carla had her hands full with the farm animals and a new baby girl. However, it was not in her nature to give up on an animal in need so easily, so she got medical attention for the terrified cat and then took it into her home.
“For some reason, when we received a call for Sapphire, we took her in, no questions asked,” says Carla. “I found myself saying yes before I even knew what I was saying!”
Sapphire, as the cat was named, spent a full day hiding under the bed before finally coming out to get better acquainted with her surroundings. She was wary of Carla and her family at first, particularly of their dog, which nobody could blame her for. But as she began to warm up to the family, her interactions with one member in particular surprised everyone.
When Sapphire first “met” baby Mary, she kept her distance, but that didn’t last long. Because Carla and Mary were usually not far apart, and because Sapphire desperately wanted some love and attention from Carla and her husband, the cat soon got comfortable around the baby and became quite interested in her. Even in the early days, Carla always had a sense that the cat was keeping a watchful eye out for the young child.
“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,” Carla says. “Sapphire would run and stand beside the baby, with an erect posture.”
And soon, the two became much closer friends than anyone could ever have guessed they would. “It’s as if these guys have known each other forever,” says Carla.
Sapphire now spends a good portion of her time playing with Mary or curling up with her for naps.
“She just couldn’t seem to get close enough to her,” Carla says. “Then she started to wrap her arms around the baby. She’d snuggle her face right into Mary’s neck. We’ve never seen a cat do this before. Their bond grew faster and faster. It was really unbelievable!”
And Mary, who likely can’t remember a time when the cat wasn’t in her life, treats Sapphire like a sibling. Sapphire has been her “kitty” since she was just a month old.
“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,” Carla explains. “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.”
When Sapphire can’t find Mary, she will meow and go looking for the little one. And Mary, at just 4 months old, recognizes the name “Kitty” and will look directly at Sapphire when asked where the kitty is. She loves to pet Sapphire, and Sapphire returns the favor by snuggling up next to her.
“This is a true love story,” says Carla. “It transcends time, transcends species and may even defy logic. 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.”
Is there anything more natural and pure in the world than a child and an animal with a bond this strong? We don’t know how it happens, but we’re glad it does.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?
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