Yes, life is purrrty good for cats with special needs at Milo’s Sanctuary!
Just like humans, cats can be born with or develop disabilities. Also just like humans, cats with disabilities all too often find themselves treated unfairly and marginalized compared with animals that do not have disabilities. Unfortunately, for a cat with a disability, this typically means a tragic end, as cats with disabilities that are sent to animal shelters are generally considered unadoptable and euthanized as a result.
One woman is doing all she can to change all that. Michele Hoffman, who has been rescuing cats for fifteen years, believes that there is no such thing as a cat that is hopeless or unadoptable. She believes that, just like people, animals deserve a second chance. That’s where her organization, Milo’s Sanctuary and Special Needs Cat Rescue in Burbank, CA, comes in.
“When I started rescuing seriously 15 years ago, I saw the special needs cats being overlooked at shelters and adoption events,” Michele says. “That’s when I knew my life’s work would be saving these special-needs souls.”
The special needs of the felines at Milo’s Sanctuary are as unique and varied as the cats themselves. The official “spokescat” for the sanctuary is a girl named Daisy, who lost an eye due to an infection from living in unsanitary conditions caused by her prior owner, who was a hoarder and had more than 300 dogs and cats crammed into a filthy space. Another cat, lovingly named “Roo,” was born with stumpy forelegs and was given up by his prior owner when the man’s fiancé deemed the cat “creepy.”
Both Daisy and Roo wound up at shelters, where the staff considered the cats hopeless for adoption and were about to euthanize the animals. Milo’s shelter stepped in to give them a forever home. Today, both cats are happy and energetic, and quite healthy despite their disabilities.
Michele has to constantly engage in creative fundraising to keep the shelter running, as many of her feline friends require regular, if not constant, specialized care to treat their disabilities. She uses social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, to their fullest potential to draw attention to the shelter and seek sponsors, and Hoffman also runs events like bowl-a-thons and auctions to raise money.
Through the social media campaign, supporters can sign up to sponsor animals for life, becoming directly involved with the cat to sponsor its needed care. Says Michele, “Contributions benefit all our cats, but sponsorships let our supporters help that one cat they feel especially close to.” She continues, “For the ones that need daily medications or extra vet visits, these sponsorships literally save lives.”
As if her constant work at the shelter isn’t enough, Michele also manages to hold down a full-time job in the entertainment industry, a feat of determination that is difficult to conceive. But she says that her love for the cats at the sanctuary is her driving motivation in life, the thing that keeps her going every day. She hopes that, in time, she can be an inspiration to others who will eventually seek to adopt their own special-needs cats.
“It’s pretty easy to make a home ‘special-needs friendly’ with some minor adjustments,” Michele says. “With a little patience and a lot of love, you’ll forget their special needs and just come to think of them as special.”
Paws for a moment to watch the video…it’s the cat’s meow!