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Coffee Break: Most Amazing Animal Transformation Witnessed

What’s the most amazing animal transformation you’ve witnessed? That’s the question we asked for this issue’s Coffee Break, and you responded by telling us about some turnarounds that remind us that change truly is possible, and that even the most fearful, neglected, and abused animals deserve another chance.

Leroy has a new name and a fresh start. Leroy had become anti-social after living alone with an elderly shut-in. When he arrived, Leroy was terrified of everyone and everything. He was the most aggressive cat we had ever seen. His caregivers had to bundle their arms in towels to protect themselves from his swipes. His family remembered a time when Leroy was a friendly, loving boy. But after years of isolation, he had regressed into a fearful cat that his family could not manage. At their wit’s end, they called the Cat’s Meow for help. Looking in his eyes, we knew that friendly cat was still inside him. Getting that friendly cat out again took some time, effort, and a lot of patience. Three volunteers worked intensively with Leroy and gradually earned his trust. After several months, we were encouraged to see Leroy begin to play, and he would do just about anything for a treat.

One Saturday, Susie stopped by the adoption center looking for a cat for her new home. She visited with many of the other cats before getting to Leroy’s room. “He picked me out,” Susie said. “He was rubbing up against my leg.” She started giving him treats and saw the friendly cat we all knew was inside him. She visited Leroy at the adoption center several times a week, letting him get to know her and feel comfortable with her before taking him home. With his fresh start, Leroy got a new name and is now called Ollie. To ease the transition, Susie started Ollie off in a smaller room. We were all excited to see how he would adjust to his new surroundings. After a couple days, Susie noticed Ollie was spending time in a rocking chair in the room so she went in and sat in it. “He jumped up in my lap, and he flipped over so I could rub his stomach,” she said. Everyone, including Susie, was surprised at how quickly Ollie adjusted. He now has a special place near Susie’s head where he sleeps every night. Leroy is gone forever, and Ollie is home.

Michele Onorato, executive director, The Cat’s Meow, Anacortes, Washington

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To see and respond to the latest Coffee Break question, check out animalsheltering.org/coffeebreak.

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