Moonlight appears to have suffered a life of neglect. The old cat was ridden with fleas and severely underweight when he found himself in a Virginia shelter hoping for a home.
Molly has dedicated a big piece of her life in service to our nation. In 2003 she enlisted in the Navy Reserves and remains on orders to this day.
Like all military personnel Molly serves where she is needed. Most of her overseas deployments have been to the Middle East, far from home and loved ones.
“Been to Kuwait 2005 to 2006, UAE 2011, Djibouti 2017 to 2019,” she rattles off, “and assorted stateside orders.”
The Reservist has many memories from her nearly two decades of Naval service, but one is forever imprinted on her mind.
“In the bow of the patrol boat, standing behind the 240 – ready to fire – 40 feet from a civilian boater way too close to the ship we were trying to escort safely out to the Persian Gulf,” she recalls. “Why it stuck in my mind? Because his actions would determine if he will live or die.”
The 240, or M240B, is a Marine Corps standard infantry machine gun that is used by nearly all branches of the United States armed forces.
From time to time Molly still reflects on the “serious reality of ‘over there.'”
Adoption makes a house a home
Most school-age students across the country transitioned to online learning during COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. It was challenging for many people to suddenly have their children home for long stretches of time when they would normally be in school.
It was no different for Molly’s family. It made her realize that something was missing that would make her household feel more like home.
So in early October of 2020 Molly started her search to adopt a companion pet.
Pets for Patriots partners with many animal welfare organizations in the Hampton Roads community where Molly lives.
Norfolk SPCA told Molly about our companion pet adoption program for military veterans and she applied right away.
Since 2015 Norfolk SPCA has offered fee-waived dog and cat adoptions to veterans in our program.
An old black cat at the shelter who endured a life of neglect was about to have his luck change forever.
Oldies are goodies
Molly did not set out to adopt a senior pet; few people do. But she was smitten by a then 11 year-old cat at Norfolk SPCA who showed many signs of having had a terrible life to date. He was fittingly named Moonlight, owing to brightly-colored eyes set against his nearly jet black fur.
“He had come to Norfolk SPCA from a vet[erinarian] that someone had dropped him at,” she shares. “He was overridden with fleas something fierce, and kinda skinny.”
Moolight was so thin that his ribs were visible. While nothing is known about his prior life or who who brought him to a veterinary hospital, that decision likely saved the older cat’s life.
In late October Molly made it official. She and Moonlight were adopted and headed home together.
Overcoming a life of neglect
One common misconception about older dogs and cats is that they are slow to learn new things or adjust to changes in their environments. While every pet is different, there is nothing inherent about mature animals that prevents them from acclimating to new lives.
Moonlight wasted no time making himself comfortable and, in so doing, making Molly’s condo “more homelike.”
The Navy Reservist’s son was delighted to have a stay-at-home buddy, too. Molly enjoys the senior cat’s greetings when she comes home from work.
“Moonlight keeps my son company during online school days,” she shares, “and he’s a real love bug to relax and pet – he has velvet soft fur – at the end of the day. He will great you and want you to get down on the carpet with him so he can rub his face on yours, too. Super great company and he is very happy being spoiled.”
It is impossible to know the life of neglect that Moonlight led before he was rescued. However, he has left behind that life for good.
Molly encourages other veterans to consider adopting a companion pet through Pets for Patriots. The benefits we offer help make pet adoption more affordable, including discounted veterinary care and a financial contribution towards ‘welcome home’ food and basics.
“It is a great program. Makes pet adoption so much more obtainable doing more than just giving a pet a home,” she says. “Absolutely use the service. It is wonderful.”
The luckiest black cat
Moonlight is making a comeback. The outward signs of a cat who led a life of neglect are diminishing with time. He is flea-free and has gained a few much-needed pounds.
“He’s been doing well. He’s putting on weight, and his fur is getting softer and filling in,” Molly says, adding that his ribs are becoming less noticeable.
Molly is clearly smitten with her fetching feline and appreciates his distinct beauty.
“He has the most unusual colored eyes, making his looks more unique. One is yellow/copper and his other has hints of brown, both of which he will stare at you until you pet him.”
However it is Moonlight’s personality that has won over Molly and her son. The old black cat has routines with each member of his new household. And he can be quite demanding if they ignore his wishes.
“He wakes you up in the morning with whisker tickles and wet nose rubs on your cheek. If he wants to play, he will bring out his cat toy on a string and meow at you until you do,” Molly shares. “He loves to sleep with my son, too.”
Moonlight was an old cat who endured a life of neglect with few prospects for adoption. In the span of a few short months he became a deservedly pampered pet. His mere presence has made Molly’s household more of a home. He brings his own brand of joy to his Navy rescuer as well as to her son.
Still, Moonlight rules the roost. And Molly would not have it any other way.
“He has adjusted well to being the king of the house,” she says. “And as a typical cat doesn’t seem to know his name unless it is associated with food, a treat, or catnip.”