Rescuing animals can be a difficult, emotional endeavor. Animal lovers pursue the difficult work to make a difference in the lives of our furry friends. Rescue workers work hard to ensure abandoned or neglected animals have better lives, but sometimes they have to see the animals in terrible conditions first. Carmen Weinberg is one of the many big hearts who helps animals in need. Carmen runs Animal Friends Project, a trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) operation that helps local cats around southern Florida. She also cares for and rehomes sick and injured cats. It was through this work that she came across Cotton.
Cotton was a homeless cat found in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, in the fall of 2016. A man found Cotton trying to eat food put out for his own cat. The man was able to pick Cotton up and put him in a carrier. The next day, Carmen went to pick up the cat, who was in bad shape. A vet visit revealed that Cotton was suffering from severe mange, dehydration, and anemia. Carmen nursed Cotton back to health and let the beautiful cat within shine again. His transformation is truly astounding!
When Carmen Weinberg was contacted by a man in Royal Palm Springs about a cat he’d found, she had no idea what she was in for. The next day, she met Cotton.
Cotton approached the man when he put out food for his own cat. It was clear that Cotton was underweight and suffering.
When Carmen picked up Cotton, she felt so bad for the little guy. She took him straight to the vet to see what could be done to help him.
Carmen discussed Cotton’s story with the Dodo.
“He couldn’t even see or open his eyes [because] the mites were so bad. It must have been so scary for him out there not being able to see,” she recalled. “He was all alone and so skinny because he couldn’t find food.”
There were quite a few problems with Cotton. He was severely infected with mange, extremely dehydrated, and anemic.
Cotton needed antibiotics, ointments, and a specific diet. Carmen was able to quarantine the sweet boy in her bathroom while she cared for him. Slowly but surely, she nursed him back to health.
It took some time being treated before Cotton could relax in his new environment. Carmen explained, “We could just see his tense body start to relax as the days passed. He was finally able to rest without scratching so much.”
It took a few weeks before they saw any improvement in Cotton. He continued to warm up to people and display trust, but he was still visibly uncomfortable.
One day, Cotton was finally able to open his eyes. To everyone’s surprise, he revealed two different-colored eyes. The former stray has one hazel eye and one blue eye.
It took a few months for Cotton to fully recover. The sweet cat was just as surprised as everyone around him at how far he’d come.
Animal Friends Project / Facebook
What was even more of surprise was that his eyes weren’t at all damaged by the mange.
“We thought he was blind, and that he would be blind forever. The vet thought that even when his eyes recovered they might be damaged, but they weren’t,” Carmen explained. “It was such a wonderful surprise. His eyes were just beautiful.”
Cotton started hanging out with some of the other cats in the house, but he was also very attached to Carmen. He followed her everywhere, and she was the only human he could really trust.
“If I go into another room, he waits outside the door talking. He sleeps with me, he stays by my side all of the time,” Carmen said. “Him and I have a wonderful relationship. He’s a good communicator and loves meowing at me.”
In the end, Carmen didn’t need to find a home for Cotton. His home was with her all along.
“We got so many applications for him due to his looks, but in the end, I saw how attached to me he had become,” she explained. “I didn’t have the heart to put him through another big change. He had already been through so much.”
Carmen loves Cotton and the bond he’s formed with the whole family. It reminds her of why the work she does with Animal Friends Project is so important.
“Cats like Cotton depend on people to heal, because they cannot always ask for help…. I’m sure so many people passed him by because of how sick he looked, but he was just waiting for someone to give him a chance,” she said.