“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”
-Bernice Johnson Regon
While trying to survive as a stray, Mondo had been severely beaten and abused. The fur on Mondo’s face had been replaced with blistering bold red skin. His paw pads were left thin and tattered from burns. Mondo, once a short-haired black cat had now become unrecognizable to himself. After being turned into a local animal shelter by a concerned citizen, Mondo was out of luck again. The shelter did not provide the medical care that was urgently needed. Instead, Mondo sat alone and shook in terror of what might happen next. He faced the back corner of his cage with his head buried deep in his front arms; jumping at every footstep he heard nearing his cage. Mondo had lost all hope for the goodness of humanity.
Donna, a shelter volunteer, knew that Mondo needed help that they were unable to adequately provide. She used the power of social media to connect with hundreds of rescue organizations from across the country, hoping that one might have space and funding to help Mondo before it was too late. Her last e-mail plea was sent directly to us. We had helped special needs animals from their shelter in the past and Donna had hoped that we might have space to help another one now. We did. Although we did not have the funding, I had an open space in my home for a new foster feline. As usual, we would figure out the funding later. We always did. Working as an all-volunteer group with no paid staff, we received no government funding, only donations from the public to continue our efforts. We hoped that the community would pull together once again to help with Mondo’s mounting medical bills, and miraculously, they did. Our prayer was answered in more ways than one. Mondo was out of the shelter, away from his abusers and living in his own private bedroom in my home while he recovered physically, emotionally and socially from his wounds.
Mondo pushed his nose tightly into the corner of the room and trembled with fear as I entered to say hello. It was his first night of rescue; it was impossible to imagine what thoughts must have been rushing through his mind. As I softly ran my hand down his back, careful not to touch his badly burned head and paws, he shuttered. Whispering softly, I promised him it would be okay, that he was safe now. I sat in the opposite corner of the room and opened a can of moist cat food as I laid out a smorgasbord of options for Mondo to enjoy at his leisure. He didn’t make a bee-line for the food as so many newly rescued pets do. He only pushed his nose closer to the wall and continued to shake, fearing the unknown. We continued this dance multiple times a day for more than a week. By the end of week one, Mondo brought himself to be able to look at me, but not to come towards me. He allowed me to pet him, but it was clearly uncomfortable. He was eating his food, drinking fresh water and taking his medications. His emotional state, however, would rebound at a much slower rate. Amy Beatty, co-founder of Advocates 4 Animals shared, “Honestly, we thought that Mondo’s rehabilitation process would take upwards of a year. After just four short months, Mondo was purring, sitting on our laps, begging to be held, wanting to snuggle and playing with toys…It was simply amazing!”
Mondo’s progress was not accomplished overnight. With a committed approach to patience and kindness, his faith in humanity was restored. The first moment he purred, I could hardly catch my breath. He was purring! The cat that had once stood in the corner, shaking in terror was now purring and learning to trust. He was learning that not all humans are bad, that there is compassion in the world. He was learning that some people in the world simply care because they do; without a motivation for personal gain, without a time frame, love could just be love- pure and simple. Kind and caring. The touch of a human could be gentle, the food and water in the bowls could be depended on to be there when he was hungry. The warmth of the blanket did keep him warm and safe and the people who surrounded him were there to protect, not harm him. What a vastly different universe Mondo experienced as he eased into rescued life.
As Mondo purred and began to confidently raise his tail high, I opened the door to his private room and allowed him to meet my two dogs and cats. He loved them all, instantly. Having been fearful that he would run and hide, my worries were quickly erased as he trotted towards Daisy, a black lab mix and rubbed her muzzle with his wounded head, followed by flopping on the floor, paws the air. He had certainly made an emotional recovery!
Dr. W had warned us that Mondo’s physical wounds may never heal. Although we are never concerned about aesthetics, we worried about what chance he would have for adoption. Being a short-haired black cat alone gave Mondo the toughest statistics of finding adoption. Add to that the fact that he was missing all of his facial hair which had been replaced by the toughness of bubbling bright red skin, the statistic lowered.
Nevertheless, Mondo was safe with Advocates 4 Animals and we continued to focus on his recovery. Having been less than four month, Mondo’s emotional wounds had healed rather quickly despite all that he had endured. His fur ran the risk of never returning, but within the next month we noticed the beginnings of hair stubbles surrounding the outskirts of his facial wounds. Could it be? Was it the start of hair growth? It certainly was. Once Mondo’s facial fur began to grow, it didn’t stop. In fact, it grew like a weed. It grew thick and it covered his entire face. Someone meeting him at this moment would never realize all that Mondo had lived through in his young life. He looked strong, healthy. He looked like a typical black cat, but he was far from typical.
Within weeks of his hair regrowth, Mondo was successful adopted from Advocates 4 Animals Rescue by a wonderful woman, Rita. Rita welcomed Mondo into her home as she introduced him to the families other feline and to her other human family members. Mondo fit in quickly. In fact, he quickly developed the habit of nibbling on Rita’s fingers when she sat down to play with him in the evenings. He loved people so much that his nibbling was signaling his intensity for fun. He wanted all of the attention he could get, especially from Rita. He basked in the rays of sunlight that entered the living room windows and twitched his black tail as he watched the birds at the outside feeders filling their stomachs for the winter.
On adoption day, when I shared Mondo’s journey of rescue and rehabilitation with Rita and her family, they were in shock. I carried photos of Mondo from his first day of arrival to supplement his story. Rita held the photo in disbelief, unable to hide the shock from her face. Her eyes welled up with tears as she promised to love Mondo and provide him with a safe and caring home for the duration of his life. I had no doubt that Mondo was in good hands. As I turned to leave Rita’s house that afternoon, I watched cheerfully as Mondo bounced from couch to couch like a small child on Christmas morning. He had found the home of his dreams, a home that he had once been unable to even imagine.
Mondo’s journey is one of courage, trust and love. He shows the impact of human compassion towards all living beings. Mondo’s story has been featured in multiple newsletters as well as in Cat Fancy magazine. While it is true that his life began with heartache, Mondo’s story proves that if we utilize the power that resides within each of us, the power of kindness and compassion, we have the power to make miracles happen.