When Stella looked out the window of her apartment in Sydney, Australia, on the evening of January 5, 2020, she spotted a tiny black and white kitten sitting in the middle of a footpath. Stella and her partner Jay were accustomed to seeing a lot of stray cats in their neighborhood, so she wasn’t initially concerned about the young feline. However, as time passed and the kitten remained in the same spot, Stella grew increasingly worried about the little cat’s well-being. “It was getting dark and cold,” remembers Stella. “The kitten was out in the open for a long time, just sitting there — too small to be alone, with no mother in sight — and wasn’t reacting to people walking past.”
Stella shared her concerns with Jay, and the couple impulsively decided to rescue the kitten, grabbing water and a towel before rushing outside. As they approached the small cat, Stella and Jay immediately noticed discharge coming from its eyes, indicating it was unwell. “We gave it some water and it could not have been happier to drink it,” says Stella. “It took a couple of goes to catch it as it kept bunny-hopping away but it quickly ran out of energy and we eventually scooped it up with the towel.”
Once inside their apartment, the couple gave the tuxedo kitten some goat milk and a box to sleep in, and the following morning they took the little cat to the vet. A thorough examination revealed the kitten was female, approximately five weeks old, and suffering from dehydration, undernourishment, anemia, and intestinal parasites.
“She was less than half her normal weight and her ribs stuck out,” explains Stella, “And she was covered head to toe in fleas and they had sucked so much blood from her that her paws had turned white.”
The veterinarian also diagnosed her with a severe upper respiratory infection that had caused her eyes to become badly infected. The vet discovered the kitten was completely blind in her right eye, but it was impossible to determine if she’d lost her vision due to the infection or some sort of physical trauma.
“She seemed to have been abandoned by her mother for being a sickly girl, and would have had a traumatic time on her own as a weeks-old kitten not being able to see or eat before we discovered her,” says Stella.
While they weren’t planning to get a pet when they found the tiny tuxedo cat, Stella and Jay decided to adopt her and do their best to nurse her back to health. “I have wondered about the people who I saw walking past her in the alleyway and if they ever gave her a second thought before walking by,” says Stella. “We like to think that she knew she needed help, so she walked out, sat down, and waited for the right humans to find and rescue her.”
After deciding to keep the kitten, Stella and Jay named her Momo, which means peach in Japanese, a fitting name for the small, furry, and sweet girl. While Momo had found a forever home, she was still very sick, so Stella and Jay spent the next several weeks providing her with lots of love and intensive care.
“Although she had a terrible flea infestation, she was too young to have proper medication and had to wait until she was a few weeks older,” remembers Stella. “To help her get some relief, I often spent hours sitting with her while she slept, and picked and squeezed the fleas off her body, one by one. Many days, I would not work and would just sit and be with her, to give her comfort and help her rest and recover.”
She also regularly cleaned the discharge from Momo’s eyes and face, and used antibiotic drops to calm her severely irritated and inflamed eyes. Over time, the kitten’s eyes dramatically improved, as did her overall health, and today Momo is doing great, although she remains blind in her right eye.
“We often forget she only has one good eye,” says Stella. “She practices her hunting skills every day with her favourite mouse toy, and she carries it around with her everywhere.”
In addition to practicing her hunting skills, which Stella spent hours teaching her when she was younger, Momo loves snuggling with her mom, kneading her blanket, and catching bugs with Stella’s help. She also likes cuddling and wrestling with Kumo, a stray kitten Stella and her partner rescued just a few weeks after they found Momo.
“Momo and Kumo had to be kept in separate parts of the house for months while he recovered and grew, and that was very difficult for poor Momo,” remembers Stella. “She didn’t understand that we couldn’t all be together yet and would have a meltdown whenever I left her to go care for Kumo.”
To this day, Momo is extremely attached to Stella, and while she no longer gets anxious when they’re apart, this cute black and white girl still follows her mom around the house. Fortunately, Momo’s feelings for her mom are mutual, and Stella thinks of this special girl — who is her very first cat — as her firstborn child.
“Momo certainly opened our hearts and home to stray cats,” says Stella, and since meeting Momo, she and Jay have rescued, fostered, and found homes for four kittens who were living on the streets in their neighborhood. “There are so many stray cats all around the world and all are deserving of loving homes.”
After all, if Stella and Jay hadn’t rescued Momo that night in January 2020, there’s a very good chance she might not be alive today, and her life would have been short, lonely, and filled with pain and suffering. Thankfully, they were there not only to rescue Momo, but to nurse her back to health and to help her become the incredibly intelligent and affectionate girl she is today.
“My heart explodes with love for her and I shower her with affection every day to let her know she is always loved, just as she shows us in many ways how much she loves us,” says Stella. “She makes me laugh every day with her chattiness and quirkiness, and I love seeing her so relaxed when she sleeps. Her disability and early life experiences have truly helped shape her into the beautiful, sweet little soul that she is today.”