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A Stray Cat Got Adopted, And Soon He Was Completely Unrecognizable

On the streets of New York City, a beautiful stray cat was discovered by a member of the public. But there was just one problem — the little guy wasn’t in the greatest condition. In fact, he may well have passed away without aid. Luckily, the feline got just that, and then he underwent an emotional transformation.

How it all started

Cat-lover or not, this story is sure to hit you right in the feels, folks. So prepare yourselves for what’s ahead! Tales about strays can always pull on the heartstrings, but few are as raw as this one. It all began back in January 2019, in a neighborhood in the Bronx.

Cries for help

As the sounds of the street filled the air, a quiet, almost desperate noise intermittently popped up, too. It was the stray cat’s cries, and with each yelp the severity of his situation became really clear. The tiny fella needed help — fast. Hesitation would’ve led to heartbreaking results in this instance.

Tough times ahead

Like we mentioned earlier, the cat’s cries weren’t ignored. Someone thankfully stepped up. Mind you, that didn’t mean the stray was immediately out of the woods. The road to recovery would prove to be very tricky. On that note, it’s fair to say that few could’ve predicted what eventually happened.

Little Wanderers NYC

So, let’s head back to that cold day in the Bronx in January 2019. The ginger and white cat was curled up on top of a wall, right next to a steel railing. After he was found, he let out some pained yelps, which prompted the passer-by to get in touch with a local organization. Its name? Little Wanderers NYC.

The group’s aim

This group was created in 2013 with a clear goal in mind — to rescue felines in need across all of New York City’s boroughs. But Little Wanderers NYC does have a specific focus on three areas in particular. They are Northern Manhattan, Harlem, and the Bronx. The stray was in an ideal spot then, right?

The rescue

Anyway, when the organization got the call about the cat, members of the team quickly made their way down to the Bronx. From there, he was carefully moved off the wall and transported to an animal medical facility. At that stage, a few details started to emerge regarding his condition.

Poor health

It was believed the ginger and white feline was under a year old. His peepers appeared to be filled with blood, and he wasn’t carrying much weight, either. But the issues didn’t end there. To shed a bit more light on it, Little Wanderers NYC spoke to the website LoveMeow in February 2022.

“Brink of death”

The organization said, “We named him Clayton, as he was found on Clay Avenue. The veterinary staff immediately admitted him to stabilize his temperature which was dangerously low. Clayton had hypothermia, a horrendous upper respiratory infection, and ulcers on his tongue. He was on the brink of death, but brought back to life within hours of rescue.”

More issues

That poor kitten! He must’ve been in a lot of discomfort. And that wasn’t all. In addition to the problems already mentioned, Clayton was dealing with pneumonia and anemia as well. To say he was in a difficult spot would be a major understatement, even though the vets managed to save his life.

One of many

Yes, Clayton had some way to go before he’d be back on his feet again. But broadly speaking, his rescue was just one of many across New York City thanks to the work of Little Wanderers NYC. As per the group’s website, 1,000 felines were retrieved in 2019 — up by 300 from the year before. Eye-opening, right?

Staggering numbers

And the numbers continued to rise over the next couple of years, too. Yep, 1,200 cats were rescued in 2020, before more than 1,300 got the same treatment 12 months later. Plus, another 400 or so “feral colony cats” scattered around East Harlem, Northern Manhattan, and the Bronx are routinely fed by the group.

Social media presence

You can’t say the volunteers at Little Wanderers NYC aren’t a busy bunch, then! The organization’s efforts have also garnered a lot of attention on social media. For instance, its Facebook page boasts around 13,000 followers, while its Instagram account has more than 80,000 fans. People clearly appreciate the work being done.

Sharing the rescues

Many of the rescues are detailed and shared via those social media channels, and much like Clayton’s story they can be quite intense. Take this tale from June 2022 as an example. In the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York, a family of felines were found in less than ideal conditions.

A dramatic tale

Little Wanderers NYC went on to note what happened next in a few Instagram posts. The group wrote, “This young mother and her four kittens are in a seven foot concrete hole littered with trash. [The] feral mom seems to be going through a hole in the concrete wall to eat and then comes back to nurse her kittens.”

“No way to live”

The organization continued, “We called an expert trapper in the area who came to help, as our usual terrain is the Bronx and Upper Manhattan. This is no way to live.” After that, a promising update was offered in a different post on the social media website. And it outlined just how vital the intervention was in the end.


Luckily, the volunteers on hand retrieved the mother thanks to the help of the trapper. “We set the trap and 55 minutes later, mom was trapped!” the post read. “If something happened to [her], these kittens would have perished. There was no way out. So this was a critical rescue.”

Looking good?

From there, Little Wanderers NYC shared a final update on Instagram the following day. Despite being stuck down that dingy hole in Queens, the feline clan all appeared to be okay, with the matriarch keeping watch. The rescue group also tried to put the situation into perspective when compared to other cases.

“Sense safety”

The post said, “It was pretty awful, and we’ve rescued [cats] in some pretty tough neighborhoods so that’s saying something. The whole family has been rescued. We’ve named [the] mom Penny Lane and although she’s a bit bewildered, she seems to sense safety.” They’d been taken into foster care by that point.

Clayton’s situation

So, as you can see, Little Wanderers NYC are perfectly equipped to deal with these scenarios across the Big Apple! But while Penny Lane and her kittens found a foster home quite quickly, that’s got us wondering. How did Clayton fare in comparison? Well, due to his health, it wasn’t as straightforward.

Positives and negatives

Just a few days on from his rescue in the Bronx, Clayton was looking a little better. As the organization revealed via Facebook, he underwent a successful blood transfusion and was now properly hydrated. At the same time, though, the cat’s pneumonia and upper respiratory infection were still major issues.

“So sweet”

Plus, Clayton showed no interest in the food offered to him, which was a major concern. He also needed “heat support” as his temperature still hadn’t adjusted. It was tough going. Yet regardless of all that, the feline refused to get too downhearted. “This kitten is so sweet that he purrs when medical staff just look at him,” read a Facebook post. Aww.

Feeding tube

Anyway, just a day later, Little Wanderers NYC confirmed that Clayton needed to be fitted with a feeding tube. It was the only way around his refusal to eat, after he didn’t respond to medicine. To get it in place, the little kitten required an operation. Talk about a tricky spell!

“A bridge”

The rescue group shed a bit more light on what was going on in a different Facebook post. It said, “A feeding tube is a bridge that will get [Clayton] over the hump and provide nutrition to boost his immune system, while letting his upper digestive tract heal. Otherwise, he plays and purrs through everything. You just want to love this kitten!”

Good news!

Indeed you do! The tube was successfully fitted, and some three days on from the last post, Little Wanderers NYC shared the next update. And it was a big one. Yes, Clayton was finally well enough to leave the animal medical facility. The young stray had a foster home waiting in the wings.

Clayton’s foster mom

A woman by the name of Rebeccah L. opened her house up to Clayton. She worked with Little Wanderers NYC, so was already familiar with his story. Rebeccah shared some footage of the cat walking through the place, and he seemed so much better than before. Incredibly, this was just under a week after the rescue.

The scarf

The only sign that something was off was the scarf Clayton sported. He wore it to cover the feeding tube. But we have to say, the ginger and white kitten looked fabulous in it! Anyway, the organization provided some more news around 24 hours later on the social media website.

“Day at a time”

The post read, “[Clayton’s] doing pretty well and tolerating tube feedings. However, he still shows zero interest in eating. So his great foster [mom] continues supportive care and hopefully, gradually, Clayton will regain his appetite and be back to normal. For now, it’s a day at a time. He’s a little miracle!”

How long was Clayton out there?

That’s not a hyperbolic statement, either, when you think of the state Clayton was in. And there’s more to consider here, too. While chatting to LoveMeow, Little Wanderers NYC gave a rough estimate of how long the young cat had been on the streets prior to the intervention. The number could shock you, folks.

Lengthy spell

The group said, “Our collective guess is that [Clayton] was outside for three weeks or more based on his condition. He’s a true friendly cat, so we don’t understand why not one soul stepped up [in that time].” Our heart is breaking at the mere thought of him being alone for that long!

Getting better...

So, what came next for Clayton? Well, a few days into his stay at Rebeccah’s place, he still showed no signs of eating. Thank goodness for the feeding tube then, right? Outside of that, though, he continued to perk up around his foster mom. She kept him engaged through fuss and attention.

Playing around

A sweet video highlighted that, as Clayton gleefully played with a paper towel. It was so cute! But the cat had one final hurdle to overcome to complete his recovery. How much longer would it be until he regained his appetite? Little Wanderers NYC provided an answer in a different update.

“Almost forgot he was sick”

Now for reference, this post was written more than two weeks after Clayton was found in the Bronx. It read, “Clayton’s e-tube comes out soon. He’s eating 2.5 cans per day and he almost forgot he was sick.” That’s awesome news! And we love the accompanying photo that came with the message. What a getup.

Heartfelt reaction

That particular post earned over 500 likes, while also generating plenty of heartfelt comments. Facebook users were delighted to see that Clayton was heading in a really positive direction. Yet that begs the question — what did his future hold now that he was out of the woods? Where would he go?


Well, Rebeccah found herself falling in love with Clayton with each passing day. They formed a beautiful bond together, and the Little Wanderer NYC volunteer couldn’t bear the thought of losing him. So, she made a big decision. Yep, she welcomed the young feline into her clan on a permanent basis.

Complete transformation

It seems fitting, wouldn’t you agree? After all, Rebeccah played a significant role in nursing Clayton back to health. Anyway, in the time since then, the ginger and white cat has continued to go from strength to strength at home. He couldn’t look better than he does today. The transformation has been incredible.

Helping out

As for what he’s been up to for the last three years, Clayton has tried to be as helpful as possible. You see, Rebeccah’s fostered some other felines across that spell, too. And her rescue cat has showered them all with affection. What a good boy! Talk about reflecting your owner.

True love

Speaking of which, Rebeccah offered her thoughts on her time with Clayton in a post shared by LoveMeow. To say that she’s cherished every moment alongside him would be underselling it. The pet owner said, “Clayton means the world to me. I wake up most nights and he’s snuggled himself in my arms.”

“The perfect boy”

“[Clayton’s] the perfect cat dad to all of my fosters,” Rebeccah continued. “He’s so patient, gentle, and funny. I laugh all the time over his quirks and mannerisms. He’s the perfect boy. He’s why I foster. I’m lucky to have him. People want a perfect pet, but the wonky ones are the perfect ones.”

“A success story”

Lovely words, right? And Rebeccah had one last thing to say on the matter as well. Clayton’s human mom added, “Fostering a cat literally saves lives. Clayton is a success story and a testament to the power of working together. It really does take a village!” Endings don’t come happier than this.