Shortly after Hurricane Sandy left much of New York devastated, nonprofit rescue organization Animal Care & Control found a skinny cat wandering around Brooklyn.
Rescuers took the 6-month-old feline, which they named Joy, to the ASPCA’s emergency boarding facility, which was set up post-storm to give people a central place to find lost pets.
But when the facility closed in January, Joy remained unclaimed, so she was taken to the ASPCA's adoption center.
"When she first came to our boarding facility, it was a bit of a running joke that 'Joy' was probably not the most fitting name for her," said Jess Oldham, ASPCA senior administrative director of community outreach. "She was a heartbreakingly frightened cat when she came in and the last thing she was exhibiting was joy."
Oldham fostered Joy for nine months and worked with the frightened feline to help her feel more comfortable around people — and make her more adoptable.
Joy hid in a box inside her cage for two weeks before Oldham managed to coax her out. It took several more weeks— and lots of treats — before Oldham was able to pet her.
"It was a very slow process. We celebrated Joy's small victories every week," she said.
Once Joy was comfortable with her foster parent, play dates were arranged with other staff members so Joy could get used to meeting potential adopters.
Although Joy was available for adoption after a few months of socialization, she was still skittish, and Oldham worried that transferring her to the adoption facility would set her back.
The ASPCA's media department developed a special plea for the public to meet Joy at the organization's offices, and soon the adoption center had received more than 50 calls about Joy from several states.
Oldham wanted Joy to go home with someone who had experience working with shy cats and who would be willing to put in the time and effort to make her feel comfortable in her forever home.
She found Joy's perfect match in Rob Curran. He'd heard about Joy on the news and her story resonated with him. Curran lost both his home and his business to Hurricane Sandy.
"During our conversation, he mentioned that his sister had actually volunteered at the emergency boarding facility where Joy was initially housed after Sandy," Oldham said. "If that's not kismet, I don't know what is."
Together, Curran and Joy are both getting a fresh start, and Joy has finally come out of her shell.
"It is awesome to see her getting to live up to her name," Oldham said.
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