Amidst the Pandemic, Adopted Cat Fills Family’s Life with Hope

A cat named Gouda overcame a host of medical challenges and showed Melanie and her partner the power of love in the face of adversity.

Melanie + Gouda

During a time of global and personal crisis for Melanie and her partner, an adopted cat named Gouda joined their family and showed them that with love, it’s possible to persevere.

"Gouda’s spirit is always smiling. When you are with him, your spirit smiles too. Even during the times when it seemed to me that I couldn’t alleviate his suffering fast enough, he would sit on my lap, purr, and look at me as though he was saying, ‘It’s okay mom, I know you love me. I love you, too.’"

It was spring of 2020 when life suddenly became ever changing and uncertain that  Gouda came into my life. Rescued from the streets of Los Angeles by Kitty Bungalow, he was hairless, itchy, and in an unimaginable state. I brought Gouda home as a medical foster kitten, like so many street kittens I’ve had before, and my expectation was to get him healthy so he could find the perfect home. I had no idea he was the constant I needed in my life and that the perfect home was mine.

For almost a year, I watched Gouda suffer through tremendous challenges to overcome his ailments, yet he never faltered from his silly and most lovable self. Gouda requires daily medications, a special diet, and frequent injections and will, most likely, for his entire life. But his illness is not what defines his, or my, story. Our story is one of friendship.

Gouda’s spirit is always smiling. When you are with him, your spirit smiles too. Even during the times when it seemed to me that I couldn’t alleviate his suffering fast enough, he would sit on my lap, purr, and look at me as though he was saying, “It’s okay mom, I know you love me. I love you, too.”

Simultaneously to Gouda’s arrival, Covid had just spread like wildfire across the world. My longtime partner and I were both suffering from depression and on the verge of separating, and I was working countless hours to keep a nonprofit afloat. While real-life was harder than ever, Gouda unexpectedly filled my family’s home with laughter and love, and most importantly, hope.

Gouda connected my family through his special needs. My partner became highly involved in his daily care, even learning to give injections! Gouda is a ball of unabashed silliness and joy. We even nicknamed him the “Goudle Noodle” because when he snuggles it’s like having a wet noodle stuck to you and no matter how you move, he moves with you as though you are one. Even my grumpy old cat and my crazy cattle dog welcomed Gouda because it’s hard not to: he spreads his magic to everyone that meets him. He brought us the balance I didn’t even know was missing. We reconnected and found ourselves ever amazed and in awe of Gouda’s capability to love during adversity and finding humor in his unorthodox cat-ing. He soon became the reminder about what is most important in life.

Gouda brought us perseverance and love in a time of global, and personal, crisis. Nowadays, you’ll find him following me around, “helping me” around the house, or snuggling with me the second I sit down. People often tell me how lucky he is to have found me. But I know that I’m the lucky one. Life is Goud-a.

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Melanie won Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats in Los Angeles, California a 2021 Love Stories award.