One sunny day, a woman went out to check her company mailbox. She’d expected to find maybe a letter or two, but she came across something else entirely. Inside was a tiny creature, and it seemed to be clinging to life by the skin of its teeth.
Operation Fancy Free is on a mission to improve the lives of the feral cats of Jackson County, West Virginia. It believes in the “Trap-Neuter-Return” approach, which sees stray animals taken, sterilized and then returned to the street. By doing so, the organization aims to stem the growth of the feral population.
When possible Operation Fancy Free also fosters and adopts kittens out. This way, it can find loving forever homes for young cats who haven’t yet been toughened by life on the street. With its two-pronged initiative, the group aims to end animal cruelty in its area.
But, for now, there are sadly still too many people willing to harm their four-legged friends. And, in June 2017, the organization was called to help in a particularly shocking case of animal cruelty. It all began when Operation Fancy Free took a call from their local animal shelter.
A staff member had approached the rescue outfit after finding a three-week-old kitten in the shelter’s mailbox. It was a hot summer’s day. So, the shelter worker brought the animal inside to cool him down. Once indoors, she discovered the kitten was in a bad way. His fur was dirty and he couldn’t open one of his eyes.
After Operation Fancy Free arrived on the scene, they transported the kitten to an experienced foster home. There his temporary mom, Kat Null, named him Nestle and started administering 24-hour care. She managed to stabilize his body temperature to give him a fighting chance of survival.
After that, Null began treating the kitten’s most obvious ailments. She gave the hungry animal some food and water to keep his strength up. Then she cared for his infected eye. Null worried that if she couldn’t clean it up the little cat might lose it.
“We got Nestle on June 12. He was barely three weeks old, severely dehydrated, flea infested, and malnourished with an infected eye, constipation, and UTI [urinary tract infection],” Null revealed in an interview with the website Love Meow in June 2017.
Obviously, Null’s main concern was Nestle’s eye. The infection was so severe that the kitten was already starting to go blind. But his foster mom refused to give up on the animal. As a result, she continued to tend to him in a bid to save his vision.
In the meantime, Nestle began settling into life in a loving home. Possibly for the first time in his short existence, the cat got used to the satisfaction of having a full stomach. And, although he weighed just six or seven ounces when he arrived at Null’s house, he slowly began to grow.
And food wasn’t the only thing Nestle had been lacking up until this point. With Null, he finally felt loved and secure. He slept in the comfort of a warm bed each night. And, whenever he felt alone, he had lots of soft toys to cuddle up to.
Now that he was finally safe, Nestle began to recover. He rediscovered his appetite and started to enjoy his meal times. As a result, in a matter of two days he put on two ounces. Soon, his body was ticking over just like it should have all along.
With nothing to worry about, naptime became one of Nestle’s favorite activities. And, with all his newfound energy, the kitten came on leaps and bounds. “He is making milestones,” Null revealed. “[He’s] pottying on his own, learning to play with toys, paw wrestling.”
Moreover, thanks to all his foster mom’s hard work, Nestle’s eye infection started to clear up. After a few days, he could finally open his eye and look his carer properly in the face. And Null couldn’t have been prouder. “Nestle is strong at heart,” she gushed.
After just two weeks, Nestle was fighting fit. His infection had completely disappeared and, as a result, he could see clearly with no fogginess at all. Now that he could observe the world, he was desperate to go out and explore it.
Consequently, Null had a hard time keeping up with Nestle running around her house and climbing on everything he could. But she wouldn’t have had it any other way. In fact, she even built the kitten a playpen so he could build up his muscles and agility.
Although she was an experienced kitten foster mom, Nestle’s swift recovery shocked Null. When she took him in, the kitten was seemingly on his last legs, but now she couldn’t keep him down. “He’s a champion fighter and that will help him survive this,” she said.
Before long, Nestle was a happy and healthy little kitten who loved nothing more than fooling around. Although he had been underweight when he first arrived at Null’s, he was soon at full size and growing every day. Now all he needed was his forever home.
And there was plenty of interest in Nestle online. However, those at Operation Fancy Free agreed it was best for him to stay put for the time being. “It is going to be a while before he is available for adoption,” read a post on the organization’s Facebook page. “He is also currently in the hands of our foster mom who is the best at being able to care for the sickest babies.”
But, just one month after his rescue, the organization returned to Facebook with more news on Nestle. A family had adopted the little kitten and was providing him with all the love he needed. However, his happy ending wouldn’t have been possible without the care of Operation Fancy Free and his foster mom, Null.