Woman gives sick, old, and disabled cats a loving home for their final days

When everyone adopting a pet wants a perfect, tiny kitten, cats who are older, ill, or have a disability, can be left by the wayside, spending months rejected and alone in shelters.

One woman is opening her heart and home to these ‘less desirable’ felines, giving them all the love and affection they deserve in their final days.

Michele Hoffman, from Santa Barbara, is the owner of Milo’s Sanctuary, a shelter that’s for cats who are terminally sick, coming to the end of their life, or have disabilities.

The sanctuary houses up to 75 cats at a time, with new residents coming in from all over the globe.

Michele, who works full-time in the film industry and runs the shelter out of the goodness of her own heart, said: ‘When I started there was no such thing as a “special needs cat”, they were simply cats that no one wanted due to birth defects, terminal illnesses, injury or old age.


‘I decided to change that and so I started Milo’s Sanctuary to help fill the void and have a safe and loving place for them to spend the rest of their days.

‘Sadly, some cats are with us for a short time, but we give them the best of everything; good food, medical care, soft beds, warm sunshine and lots of love.

‘We believe in quality not quantity, so when there is nothing further to do and their quality of life starts to wane, we hold them in our arms and kiss them goodbye.

‘No one should leave this world feeling that they are not loved, won’t be missed and weren’t important.’

One of the residents, Biscuit Butterpaws, six, was rescued from Mexico after someone beat him with a club, causing him to suffer a broken jaw and rupturing both of his eyes, leading to blindness.

The poor cat had to have both of his eyes removed but despite his horrifying experience, is still the ‘sweetest’ and ‘gentlest’ of cats.

Meanwhile, Daisy, 11, was rescued from a hoarder who had over 200 cats and dogs in a tiny house.

Chloe Nightmist, eight, was found trapped in a feral colony in Los Angeles. She had a fungal infection that ate away part of her nose.

Fennel Springsong, eight, has a cleft nose, a slight cleft palate and mild cerebellar hypoplasia and was dumped at a shelter by her family.

And Jack Bubblewink, six, was hit by a car in Egypt and dragged along the road, resulting in major damage to his lower jaw, ripping away all the skin and muscle from the bone.

He was flown to the UK for a life-saving operation and has since recevered. The cheeky cat is now known as a ‘big flirt’ at the sanctuary.

Then there’s wobbly cat Herman, 11, who has severe cerebellar hypoplasia that prevents him from walking. He was left at a rescue in Denver because the people who had him didn’t want to deal with his illnesses.

And finally, Tessa Tumblespice, who is just six months old and was born blind with face deformities due to a birth defect.

Sadly, although the cats are provided with veterinarian care to treat injuries and illnesses, not all of them survive.

One cat that sticks in Michele’s mind is Tommy, who was found wandering the desert in California with severe burns, the result of someone having reportedly poured acid on the feline’s head.

He was rescued in June 2016 but died three years later from feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

Michele said: ‘He was found wandering the high desert and came to us shortly thereafter.

‘Tommy was the most gentle and forgiving cat in the world.

‘He loved everyone and taught so many about forgiveness and love.’

When the cats are brought to the sanctuary, they are isolated for 14 days and monitored by vets to check for any illnesses, behavioural issues or problems with eating and going to the toilet.

Milo’s Sanctuary only accepts a limited number of felines based on their individual conditions and whether they require ongoing medical treatment – in order to ensure every cat gets the care it deserves.

Some will be put up for adoption, while others will need to live out their final days in the shelter.

Michele said: ‘We know our limits both in space and financial abilities.


‘We evaluate every cat before accepting them for ongoing issues, both medical and behavioural.

‘We do what we can when we can but we always offer advice, referrals and help whenever and wherever we can.’

She hopes that her work will inspire people to give ill and elderly cats a chance.

‘Special needs cats are often misunderstood and overlooked,’ Michele added.

‘They don’t know they are special needs, that’s a label we put on them, they only know they are cats.

‘Some require a little more care, patience and love but they are still cats and deserve a loving and safe place to call home.

‘Cats that are differently-abled have taught me to never give up, to learn to love, forgive and accept those around you for who they are – not on the outside, but the inside.’

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