Happy Tail: Fred and Madeline (formerly Biggie and Nibs)

When a heavily pregnant feral cat was found wandering the streets of Chinatown during the long, hot summer of 2018, it was Annex Cat Rescue volunteer foster mom Lori who agreed to take her in. The cat, who Lori named KitKat, kept to herself most of the time, hiding in the corner of Lori’s dog crate. But just a week later, Lori came home to a little surprise.

“I came home after work and she had given birth to Biggie,” Lori says.

Over the course of the next five hours, the mama cat gave birth to two more kittens. Like their mom, they would all be named after chocolate bars. There was a grey-and-white one Lori named Nibs, a black-and-white one named Twix, and a little calico named Mr. Big. When it turned out that Mr. Big was actually a Miss, Lori changed her name to Biggie.

Happy Tail: Fred and Madeline

Since their mother was highly protective and hadn’t been socialized, the kittens took on some aspects of her personality. It took a while to get them comfortable with people. Biggie was the smallest of the litter, and also the most shy at first. As she grew up, a different side of Biggie came out — her brave, playful side. “She had a big personality for a little kitten,” Lori says.

The kittens stayed with Lori for the next four months, until they had been weaned, spayed, and neutered. Then, a hopeful adopter named Megan came to Lori’s home to meet the kittens. After the passing of her beloved childhood cat, Quinn, Megan was ready to open her heart and adopt again. When she met Biggie and Nibs, she was instantly smitten.

Happy Tail: Fred and Madeline

“I knew I wanted siblings,” Megan says. “[Nibs] was the first one to come up and talk to me. So I took him and [Biggie] home.”

Their sister Twix was adopted quickly afterwards into a different happy home. Megan renamed Biggie Madeline, after the heroine of the childrens’ book series. She renamed her brother Fred, after the TV host Mr. Rogers. But Maddie and Fred aren’t much like their namesakes.

Happy Tail: Fred and Madeline

“When a door opens,” Megan says, “Fred runs to the door and Madeline runs from the door. That’s their personalities in a nutshell.” She describes Fred as much more outgoing and loud, while Madeline is quiet and reserved, but not fearful. “She always comes around, she just needs more time.” Fred also loves adventure; you can often find him climbing the coat hook or the fridge, with Madeline sitting on the floor below staring up at him. They are very closely bonded to each other, and love spending time together as a trio with Megan.

What made Megan want to adopt? “We’ve always had animals and they’ve always been rescues,” she says. “I cannot imagine buying an animal. It’s heartbreaking to see the amount of animals looking for homes.”

Happy Tail: Fred and Madeline

Hoping to continue helping those animals is Lori, who today is fostering another feral kitten. She has slowly been socializing her and hopes to get her “totally adoptable” soon. “It’s amazing, when you take them in, what kind of changes can be made,” she says. Lori hopes to give more kittens like Biggie and her siblings a chance at a happy life. “That’s my do-good effort!”

Meanwhile, Megan, Maddie, and Fred are very happy together. “[Quinn,] the cat I lost that summer, was my first independently owned animal. To realize that it’s possible to love other animals again is a very positive experience. There are so many animals that love us that we can love.”

Aleks Kandic

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