Kittens Bring Joy to Neighborhood During COVID-19 Lockdown

During the height of the pandemic, adopted kittens Oona and Elio offered their neighbors a window into a world of love.

Natasha + Oona and Elio

At the start of San Francisco’s COVID-19 lockdown, Natasha and her partner made adopted kittens Oona and Elio part of their family. For a neighborhood in isolation, the kittens’ playful antics in their windowfront hammock became a source of happiness that brought their neighborhood together.

"Oona and Elio began to have daily visitors who would stop by on their daily quarantine walks. From the toddler who learned to say ‘kit-ty!’ to an older woman who held her chihuahua up to the glass to say hello, the membership of the fan club steadily grew."

 

My partner and I, both animal lovers, always knew we wanted to rescue pets together. So when San Francisco went into its initial three-week COVID-19 lockdown, we thought it would be a great time to take the plunge. The lockdown would be an opportunity to give new pets some extra TLC while we worked from home.

After a Zoom meet-and-greet, we became the proud parents of Oona and Elio, two orange tabby siblings who were born in a feral colony and then rescued by Feral Change. The kittens became our whole world, and we loved playing with them, spoiling them with treats, and watching them wrestle and cuddle. Oona and Elio were inseparable and shared a special bond like no other.

The three-week lockdown soon stretched into months. We wanted to socialize Oona and Elio so they wouldn’t be afraid of people, but given the pandemic, we needed to get creative. We bought the kittens a hammock so they could cuddle up together and peer out at the sights and sounds of the neighborhood from the safety of our ground-floor bay window. 

Soon, Oona and Elio began to have daily visitors who would stop by on their daily quarantine walks. From the toddler who learned to say “kit-ty!” to an older woman who held her chihuahua up to the glass to say hello, the membership of the fan club steadily grew. Through the thin glass, we would get to overhear all the conversations our neighbors had with the cats. Sometimes there would even be a line of strollers—spaced six-feet apart, of course—waiting to say hi to the neighborhood mascots!

In a time where life seemed repetitive and bleak, Oona and Elio were happy to inject a little bit of entertainment and cuteness into our neighbors’ lives. We added a placard that included the cats’ names and ages as well as how to tell the two kittens apart. Our neighbors watched our two-pound fluffballs morph into teenage cats who barely fit in their window hammock. When we added a note celebrating their first birthday, an anonymous neighbor dropped off a birthday gift addressed to the cats. We fashioned the squeezable tuna treat into a miniature cat birthday cake.

It’s hard to imagine what the pandemic would have been without them. Oona and Elio are a bright light for us—and for our whole community. We thank Feral Change every day for bringing them into our lives.

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 Natasha won Feral Change in Oakland, California a 2021 Love Stories award.