Cotton the cat was a homeless cat, filled with diseases and extremely close to dying. His eyes were scabbed over with mange and he was being eaten alive by mites. Carmen Weinberg, founder of Animal Friends Project Inc., at the minute she laid her eyes on him, she took him under her care.
“He couldn’t even see or open his eyes because the mites were so bad,” Carmen shared with The Dodo. “It must have been so scary for him out there not being able to see. He was all alone and so skinny because he couldn’t find food.”
Once she cleaned him up, she fed him and nurtured him with oils, creams and numerous antibiotics. “We could just see his tense body start to relax as the days passed,” she said. “He was finally able to rest without scratching so much.”
“Cats like Cotton depend on people to heal because they cannot always ask for help … I’m sure so many people passed him by because of how sick he looked, but he was just waiting for someone to give him a chance.”
Carmen and Cotton bonded, and Cotton, even though he wasn’t able to see, he sensed that his life changed for better. After many months of healing and Carmen’s caring, Cotton stated to recover, and after he opened his eyes, everyone was amazed by them. “We thought he was blind, and that he would be blind forever, “Carmen explained. “The vet thought that even when his eyes recovered they might be damaged, but they weren’t. It was such a wonderful surprise. His eyes were just beautiful.”
Today, Cotton looks like just any other domestic cat. With his one blue and one hazel eye, everyone wanted to adopt him, but Carmen just couldn’t simply bare to be away from him.
“We got so many applications for him due to his looks, but in the end, I saw how attached to me he had become,” she said. “I didn’t have the heart to put him through another big change. He had already been through so much.”
Carmen’s work is vitally important to the cats of South Florida, where there is a serious overpopulation problem. “I decided to start Animal Friends Project after I saw the huge amount of homeless cats in South Florida,” she told Bored Panda. “Most of these cats needed to be spayed and neutered and many were sick and injured and people and organizations did not seem to be doing much to help them. I imagined that by bringing awareness to this problem, people would become friends of the animals and would want to help them. My husband, son, daughter, and sister help a lot and I have a few volunteers and fosters but I do most of the coordinating and work myself since I am the one that visits the low-income areas where most cats live. Problem is that I find sick animals every time I visit these communities and it is hard to do things like educating and fundraising while I am tending to the sick cats. Lots of driving around to vet visits. My advice is to please not ignore them. Anyone can help animals. Many sick stray cats are friendly and it is very easy to put them in a crate and take them to a vet. People can fundraise to pay for medical care. At least take photos and start asking for help.”
Carmen’s non-profit has provided Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) services to hundreds of community cats in the area, and you can help by donating or adopting a cat.