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The Specials: Adopting A Survivor Of Abuse

Angelina was abandoned at Red Door Animal Shelter in April 2003. She was found by the shelter dumpster in a box soiled with blood and fur. There was electrical cord wrapped around her neck and hypodermic needles near her tail. The man who clearly abused her and then dumped her stood across the street and laughed as we brought her inside.  A few minutes earlier he had knocked on the door and told us that she was evil.

Angelina was in shock. She had clearly been tortured, repeatedly, for some length of time. I have worked and volunteered in shelters for years and have never seen anything like what I saw in her eyes – pure terror, trapped alive, suffocating and screaming inside. She refused to eat or drink for more than a week. We took turns syringe feeding her water and chicken and beef baby food. Our shelter vet warned that her psychological and emotional scars were so severe that she would not likely survive.

Rescuing, rehabilitating and adopting an abused cat

Adopting An Abused Cat

But thankfully, Angelina did survive. Once cleared from isolation, she was moved to a room with seven other free-roaming cats. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that she didn’t like other cats and the feeling was mutual. The resident felines bullied her mercilessly and she even sustained an eye injury from one of her tussles with the other cats. She also started having trouble breathing and was soon diagnosed with stress-induced asthma.

For her own protection, she was relocated to the mailroom. A small, windowless room where only a few dedicated volunteers dared to visit her. Her chances of finding a home seemed slim – adopters just weren’t interested in a cat with asthma and emotional issues. Even some of our most seasoned cat volunteers were uneasy around Angelina.

How to rescue, rehabilitate, and adopt an abused cat

Over the years, Angelina learned to enjoy visitors as long as they played by her rules. If approached from the side and not directly head on, she even tolerated some light petting and brushing. She had a few special friends, two of her favorites were Chris and Linda.

I first met Linda in 2000 when the shelter opened. She and her husband, Chris, volunteered on Sundays. They visited the cats, did laundry, cleaning, and light repairs. Chris also spent many afternoons with Angelina. She liked him very much and even occasionally curled up in his lap. One Sunday, Chris just couldn’t stand to leave her there alone any longer and so in April 2007, they brought Angelina home to foster.

Angelina, a survivor of abuse is rescued and adopted and lived happily ever after

Giving An Abused Cat A Happy Ending

Angelina is a senior cat now. She is deaf and arthritic, but happy and more at ease than any of us could have ever imagined she would be. Chris and Linda say they understand and respect her limits and accept and love her as she is. Although she never adjusted to life with their other cats, she now has an entire finished basement to herself and likes nothing more than to curl up with Chris and watch the Chicago Bears and Cubs games on their big screen TV. They have learned how to make things work – which means not picking her up or approaching her from certain angles.

I asked them what they have learned from life with Angelina. Linda says Angelina has given her the courage and confidence to get more involved in animal rescue and advocacy. Chris says that she has taught him that animals can find their way back no matter what they have gone through – though sometimes this means adjusting our own expectations and letting the animal take the lead.

While taking these photographs, I could hear Angelina purring, something I never would have thought possible twelve and a half years ago while force feeding her to keep her alive. Angelina has taught me much about patience and hope even in the darkest hours and that sometimes beautiful and amazing things emerge from the most horrific of circumstances.

Chris and Linda are shining examples of compassion and kindness in action and life choices. And all of us who know and love Angelina will be forever grateful to them for giving her the time and space to heal and the fairytale ending she most certainly deserves.

Please consider fostering or adopting a special needs cat because second chances are amazing whether you are on the receiving or giving side. If you enjoyed this post, please check out my posts on adopting a puppy mill survivor and adopting a paralyzed cat.

Saving one animal won’t change the world, but for that one animal the world will change forever.

Rescuing and Rehabilitating An Abused Cat

Angelina is part of The Specials, an award-winning blog series focusing on special needs pet adoption. Senior pets, those with chronic medical issues, behavioral or temperament concerns as well as overlooked or misunderstood breeds like Pits and black cats. If not for the courage and compassion of their adopters, many of these animals might have been euthanized in shelters or died alone and hungry on the streets. You can read more special needs adoption posts here.


  1. The Menagerie Mom
    December 28, 2015 / 6:54 am

    I will never, ever understand how someone can be so base as to abuse an innocent animal. But at least there are also people like you wonderful folk who rescued Angelina. Chris and Linda are obviously very special people, just as Angelina is a beautifully special kitty. Thank you for sharing yet another touching story!

  2. Mark Muller
    December 28, 2015 / 10:34 am

    what a cruelty freak…such guys wake the cave-woman inside of me and I look for my big bat…. thanks to Chris and Linda… without people who have a warm heart this world would be sure the neander valley :o(

  3. Mitch and Molly
    December 28, 2015 / 10:46 am

    We are so happy for Angelina! Bless Chris and Linda♥

  4. Sometimes, Cats Herd You
    December 28, 2015 / 2:44 pm

    Such a touching story. Less-adoptable cats are awesome, and cats like Angelina, while they won't be the kind of companion most adopters dream of, are just as deserving of a good life as the litters of adorable kittens available every year. Paws way up to Chris and Linda for understanding her and giving her a loving home!

  5. Hailey and Zaphod and their Lady
    December 28, 2015 / 2:49 pm

    Chris and Linda are angels. Angelina is a very lucky cat.

  6. Two French Bulldogs
    December 28, 2015 / 2:59 pm

    What a beautiful kitty. We just don't understand abusers! Snorts,Lily & Edward

  7. Jenna
    December 28, 2015 / 3:19 pm

    What a beautiful story, with a much happier ending than was expected. So sad that such cruelty exists in this world that was shown to Angelina at the beginning of her life.

  8. Brian
    December 28, 2015 / 3:35 pm

    That is THE rescue story of the year and Chris and Linda really are angels. We all fell in love with you Angelina.

  9. Madi and Mom
    December 28, 2015 / 3:57 pm

    Oh my word…what tragic beginning Angelina had. Bless her heart. Let's hope the evil man has a sit reserved in H@//.Thank goodness for a happy safe life she is living.Hugs madi and mom

  10. Bocci
    December 28, 2015 / 4:01 pm

    Another beautiful story filled with beautiful volunteers and adopters, like Chris and Linda. And of course, a gorgeous, sweet kitty! What a wonderful series you've started, Kristin—we just LOVE it! And we hope you had a fun Christmas! Wishing you all the best in 2016—hope we can keep in touch and perhaps collaborate on a project or two!

  11. Frankie Furter and Ernie
    December 28, 2015 / 4:03 pm

    This story makes our Eyes Leak… furst from SADNESS then FURY at the Man… and finally JOY for the Love and Devotion that Chris and Linda have shown Angelina. THANKFULLY there IS a happy Ending to the tale.

  12. Random Felines
    December 28, 2015 / 4:10 pm

    wow – what a great story (thanks for letting us know about it). we LOVE families like this….that adopt special animals and accept their limitations.

  13. Sandra
    December 28, 2015 / 4:20 pm

    thanks for spreading the word, the four dogs we have had in the last 30 years were all rescues, 3 from abused situations and one senior at age 7 that no on wanted… we are now down to 1 but we got so much love from all three. if we ever get another one it will be a rescue.

  14. Bouncing Bertie
    December 28, 2015 / 4:36 pm

    What a wonderful, heartwarming story. Chris and Linda are examples to us all in the way they accepted poor Angelina and respecting her needs with such love and compassion.

  15. Laika
    December 28, 2015 / 4:42 pm

    What a wonderful story, even Vaks and I would love to take a big bite of the abuser :/

  16. Sybil Dee
    December 28, 2015 / 5:17 pm

    Thank you for writing about Angelina!

  17. rottrover
    December 28, 2015 / 6:11 pm

    A beautiful piece! Thank you for sharing Angelina's story.

  18. The Florida Furkids
    December 28, 2015 / 6:17 pm

    What a sweet kitty and what an EVIL person. How could anyone hurt such an innocent animal? We will never understand that. We're so glad that Angelina found the purrfect, loving home.The Florida Furkids

  19. stellaroselong
    December 28, 2015 / 7:10 pm

    This made us cry. We are so happy the three of them found each other….stella rose

  20. Yamini MacLean
    December 28, 2015 / 8:45 pm

    Hari OMAnother excellent outcome!!! Loving these stories…. YAM xx

  21. da tabbies o trout towne
    December 28, 2015 / 10:32 pm

    Linda & Chris; God's blessingz two ewe both 1000 fold for what ewe did & still due for Angelina…. ♥♥♥Angelina…..we R troo lee bee yond sorree ya wented thru….what ya wented thru; pleez noe yur mom & dad loves ewe… tonz…they all wayz haz, they all wayz will….& now we will go pree pare a curse for de ****** ****** *** ** * ***** who did that two ewe …..sendin hugs & lovez ~~~~ ♥♥♥

  22. Millie and Walter
    December 28, 2015 / 10:51 pm

    Angelina is lucky to have landed where so many people believed in her to try and rehab her. Such a heartwarming story.

  23. M. K. Clinton
    December 28, 2015 / 11:10 pm

    There truly is no limit to the depths of human depravity. I hope that karma has visited this man many times over the past few years. God bless Angelina and her foster parents. ♥

  24. Idaho PugRanch
    December 28, 2015 / 11:26 pm

    What a wonderful story, there are special people on this earth. we wish there were no more of the evil oneshugsMr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  25. The Island Cats
    December 28, 2015 / 11:54 pm

    Wow. Chris and Linda are absolute angels for taking in Angelina.

  26. Marty the Manx
    December 29, 2015 / 1:34 am

    What an amazing story. So glad that Chris, Linda and Angelina found each other and that sweet little girl found kindness and love. Thank God for all you blessed people who do what you do. Thank you.

  27. Lola The Rescued Cat
    December 29, 2015 / 1:53 am

    What a beautiful story. Mommy is crying and needs about 10 tissues. We are so grateful that Linda and Chris found it in their hearts to accept Angelina on her terms. Thank you!

  28. meowmeowmans
    December 29, 2015 / 2:38 am

    What a beautiful ending to a story that started so horrifically. The ability of animals to learn to trust and love again is astounding. We are so grateful for Chris and Linda, and Red Door, for giving Angelina her very own happily ever after.

  29. Ziggy Stardust
    December 29, 2015 / 3:06 am

    That is a beautiful story and so important to share. Thank you.Ziggy Out!

  30. Marg
    December 29, 2015 / 10:55 am

    Oh Goodness, that is such a great story. We sure do thank you for telling it. It did make me feel better since I am such a big advocate of trying to help cats that are deathly afraid of other cats and it is such a good idea to give them their own room. Our Girl Kitty was so happy in her own room for over a year. Some cats just cannot get along with other cats. Great story.

  31. Vicki Green
    December 29, 2015 / 2:53 pm

    I'm so glad that Angelina found these wonderful people who could provide her with so much love and understanding after such a horrible experience with the man who tortured and abused her.

  32. Melissa, Mudpie and Angel Truffles (Mochas, Mysteries and Meows)
    December 29, 2015 / 3:27 pm

    What a precious, perfect little angel. And what a story. Chris and Linda are true angels on earth.

  33. Sue
    December 29, 2015 / 7:15 pm

    When we were first married Rob and I rescued abused and neglected puppies. Monty was our toughest case. He was only six weeks old and had been severely beaten. He had permanent nerve damage in his face and needed several operations on his ears. He was a wonderful, sensitive dog but refused to leave the house and was afraid of anyone but the two of us. How can anyone beat a tiny puppy? I'll never understood that.

  34. Jean Dion
    December 29, 2015 / 8:18 pm

    I love this story for so many reasons. While I hope I never meet a cat that's been through as much as this sweet one, I do hope to run across people like Chris and Linda. Their ability to accept this sweetie for who she is, and to see the goodness in her despite her limitations, is truly inspiring. We need more people like them. Jean from Welcome to the Menagerie

  35. Austin Towers
    December 29, 2015 / 9:04 pm

    Angelina's story is heartbreaking! The depths of human cruelty is beyond comprehension! But Linda and Chris are angels to take her in and to give her such love. We saw her beautiful face first on Instagram and her eyes are haunting! ❤️❤️

  36. Cathy Keisha
    December 30, 2015 / 2:51 am

    Angelina is a survivor. A wonderful story. Pop thinks I went through something traumatic before or after being rescued as I still reject much affection and will only accept it when I’m asleep or on my terms.

  37. Foley Monster, Pocket and River Song
    December 31, 2015 / 12:38 am

    That is a wonderful story. Bless Chris and Linda

  38. jen
    December 31, 2015 / 12:50 am

    Wow. That's quite a story. So glad that she was able to find a loving home and actually be loved the way she was suppose to be.

  39. Chasing Dog Tales
    December 31, 2015 / 1:06 am

    A beautiful story of love and compassion. Thanks for sharing Angelina's story.

  40. KB Bear
    December 31, 2015 / 2:01 am

    Thanks for sharing this inspirational story of Angelina's courage to go on and of the two wonderful people who have given her the best life possible.

  41. 2 Punk Dogs
    December 31, 2015 / 2:11 am

    So glad Angelina found happiness with Chris and Linda!

  42. Maxwell Faraday Richman
    January 1, 2016 / 7:55 am

    oh WOW. What a powerful story. Huge thanks to chris & Linda for opening their hearts and for helping chase the demons away slowly each day in Angelina's heart. Purrs….

  43. Annie Bear
    January 5, 2016 / 12:42 am

    I am so thankful for the shelter and Chris and Linda and that Angelina's story turned out well. I'm so deeply sorry for what she endured and would think that horrible person would be prosecuted. I am so glad Angelina knows love and has her own home.

  44. FiveSibesMom
    March 17, 2016 / 12:54 am

    What a wonderful, uplifting story…from such a horrible start. Angelina is beautiful and so glad her story has such a wonderful ending,thanks to Chris and Linda. Sharing and Pinning!

  45. Idaho PugRanch
    December 28, 2016 / 7:21 pm

    We remember reading Angelina's story. May God bless Chris and Linda for accepting this special one into their hearts and home. Now she is totally free.sending love to them today Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  46. meowmeowmans
    December 28, 2016 / 9:08 pm

    We are so sorry to hear about Angelina's passing. Chris and Linda, thank you for loving her so much, and for giving her a lifetime of love and goodness in her year with you. Gentle purrs and prayers to you as you mourn the loss of your special girl.

  47. lsob21
    December 29, 2016 / 11:36 am

    Thank you everyone for your kind words. We miss Angelina so much. Our home is not the same without her.

  48. Shanna
    December 29, 2016 / 4:34 pm

    I'm glad to hear that Angelina got a safe and loving home, especially after enduring that horror. RIP. My thoughts are with her hero humans.

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