People who wholeheartedly devote themselves to helping cats are truly remarkable, just like the heroine of this story.
Allow me to introduce you to Suellen Duga, a 72-year-old woman who has dedicated her life to helping disabled cats.
She transformed her home into a haven for felines in need, and at this very moment, she’s caring for 12 disabled rescue kitties.
Each of these cats grapples with unique challenges: Julie has cerebral hypoplasia, Buddy is blind, Roo, a male calico cat can’t walk on his first legs, and Cory has a dislocated hip.
Two other kitties in Suellen’s care are fighting Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), while the rest of them require specialized treatments and frequent visits to the vet.
Despite their disabilities, these lucky kitties have found a loving and caring home, all thanks to Suellen. However, this isn’t the first time Suellen has come to the rescue of cats in need.
How It All Started…
Suellen has been a cat lover her entire life. But her journey as a cat rescuer began in the 1970s when she stumbled upon newborn kittens nestled in the bushes near her building.
Without a mother cat in sight, she couldn’t bear to leave them helpless. Thus, she made the courageous choice to take them in and provide them with the care they so desperately needed.
The kittens were so young that they required round-the-clock attention. Suellen diligently fed them with a clean nasal spray bottle and did everything in her power to ensure their survival.
She was so determined to help them that one day, she even snuck them into her city office building, risking her job just to feed them. She recalled:
“I wasn’t fooling anyone actually, everybody knew they were there but no one turned me into management.”
Fortunately, with a lot of care, love, and effort, the kittens survived, and Suellen couldn’t part with them. Therefore, the kittens earned a permanent place in both Suellen’s heart and her home.
Suellen Started Volunteering
After running a local natural food store alongside her husband for 20 years, Suellen felt the winds of change. In 2007, she embarked on a journey of volunteering with the Westfield Homeless Cat Project.
That wasn’t the easiest job to do, but she was determined to help cats at all costs. She recalled:
“There were cages piled on top of each other from the concrete floor up. For an old woman to be on her hands and knees on a cold concrete floor was admittedly not the best way to do things, but I felt strongly about helping the cats.”
She was always ready to take in the new kittens and provide them with the best care possible. But, when she was asked, why did she start volunteering there, she replied:
“I knew the community had supported my store for over 20 years, and I felt the need to give back. Sounds corny, but that is the way I run my life.”
Her unwavering commitment led her to become the Adoption Coordinator for the shelter.
Taking Care Of Special Needs Cats
Suellen’s compassion extended to all cats, but she held a special place in her heart for those with disabilities. These cats were often overlooked by potential adopters, and many returned to the shelter shortly after adoption. She said:
“I just could not stand to see that happen over and over.”
So, she came up with a brilliant idea and decided to open her home to disabled cats. Many of the 12 cats that she currently cares for are “foster fails.” To accommodate the special needs of her cats, Suellen has thoughtfully transformed her home.
Even in her 70s, she refuses to slow down. When she’s not tending to her beloved felines, she works a night job to cover their extensive vet bills.
Concerning her age, Suellen has a plan in place. She holds a $5,000 life insurance policy to ensure her cats receive the care they need in case she departs before them. She said:
“I almost hope I do because their losses are so devastating to me—the worst thing ever. I love them all so much.”
Suellen’s incredible story serves as an inspiration to cat lovers worldwide, encouraging them to lend a helping hand to cats in need, especially those with disabilities who often go unnoticed by potential adopters.