There was still a half-hour before the Connecticut Humane Society opened for the day, but a man was already waiting by the door. And he had something in his arms. It was hard to tell what, exactly, but it almost looked like an orange cloth.
Volunteer Shauna Pangilinan stopped to talk to him as she got ready for morning dog walks—and realized the thin, limp object cradled in his arms was a cat.
“He said he was at his buddy’s house and saw the cat outside laying in the snow. Everyone here stopped what they were doing and took the cat in, and the man said, ‘I think she’s alive,’” Shauna said.
It was during a frigid cold stretch this winter, and temperatures were in the single digits. The man hadn’t known where to turn or what to do.
But he and the cat came to the right place. CHS’ medical team sprang into action, rushing the small ginger kitty to the veterinary department down the hall to warm her up and start IV fluids. She was breathing, but it was shallow at 8 breaths per minute; a normal range is 16 to 40. The scale put her at just 4 pounds, and her temperature wouldn’t even register (a healthy kitty’s temp is normally around 103.5F). Her medical chart logged all the nerve-wracking details:
9:30 a.m. – temp = too low to read
11:00 a.m. – temp = too low to read, ate small amount of wet food
12:00 p.m. – temp = too low to read, walking around kennel
1:00 p.m. – temp = 93.2F, patient began to purr loudly
2:00 p.m. – temp = 95.3F, patient ate a small amount of wet food mixed with warm water
By 4:30 p.m., her temperature was much closer to normal, and she was “making biscuits” with her paws while coming out from under her blanket. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, while she purred with thanks. And now she had a name, too: Elsa, because like in the Disney movie, that freezing cold wasn’t going to get the best of this girl.
For the next two months, the medical team healed her from frost bite on her paw pads, helped her safely gain weight and muscle, made sure hypothermia hadn’t caused organ damage, and treated her for anemia. Meanwhile, Elsa’s purring reached new levels of happy. She didn’t mind being a constant patient with CHS’ veterinary staff members—after all, they’d saved her life.
When she was fully stable, she recovered in a foster home. Because generous donors made it possible, little Elsa had an entire team invested in her and the happy and healthy—and warm!—future she deserved.
These days, Elsa has a new mom on that team, a mom who adopted her and promised to give her everything she needs. And when Shauna the volunteer looks back on Elsa’s first day, she can’t believe how far she’s come.
“It was awful to see her in that condition when she got here but at the same time, it was so heartwarming to witness the good in people and the brilliance of the team at the Connecticut Humane Society,” she said.
Check out Elsa's recovery video below.