IDAHO – Mikayla McSheehy was born with a very defective eye.
At the wise age of 13, she knows how cruel people can be when a physical limitation — in her case, a glass eye — seems to be prominent.
So when she and her grandpa, Bear, found Ernie the one-eyed cat on Panhandle Animal Shelter’s interactive Home-to-Home Animal Adoption website, she felt an immediate and special bond with the feline. She simply knew he needed an understanding human who would accept and cherish him.
“I think it’s cool because I feel like I know what he went through,” Mikayla stated Wednesday. “He and I have probably been through the same thing. I feel like we really bond because of that.”
Mikayla and her grandpa just happened to be checking out Facebook together last week when a post about Ernie needing a home just seemed to pop up on the screen. It originated on www.home-home.org and was shared by Timberlake Litter Control, which is an animal hospital in Spirit Lake near where the family lives.
“It showed this beautiful picture of this cat who was bored and needs a home or to be loved,” Grandpa Bear stated. “Mikayla saw it and was like, ‘I love that cat. He’s just like me. Papa, I want that cat.'”
Ernie came to Timberlake Litter Control with a terrible eye infection. His left eye was surgically removed and he then spent several weeks recovering at the clinic, where staff fell in love with him. He had absolutely nowhere to go, so he became the clinic mascot.
After three years as the mascot and honorary clinic manager, Ernie began to become more and more bored — and into mischief.
The time for him had come to move on.
“We have loved and cared for Ernie for about three years but being a clinic cat does not provide the most enrichment for his life. It was time to find him a forever home and what a perfect fit he found in Mikayla,” explained Timberlake Litter Control veterinarian, Dr. Mary McKinney. “This doesn’t often happen — just often enough to make you believe that miracles really do happen.”
Grandpa Bear noted Ernie’s adoption was “meant to be.” He explained Mikayla is his adopted granddaughter and Ernie was a very welcome addition to a home with four adopted dogs and another cat, North Lane, who adopted the family five years ago when he showed up and never left.
Ernie officially joined up with the family Dec. 22.
“The cat instantly jumped on me,” Bear stated. “I think we just have good animal vibes. They gave us his little blanket and we brought him home and he was instantly comfortable.
“We’re just a bunch of misfit adopted people and animals.”
Mandy Evans, who is the executive director of PAS, said she’s overjoyed at the success of the www.home-home.org website, which has led to a 33 percent reduction in owner surrenders since its inception this past fall. The Home-to-Home program allows people to rehome their pets without having to drop them off at a shelter.
“Many wonderful new beginnings have been made with home-home.org, but there is definitely something special about Ernie and Mikayla’s story,” Evans explained. “It’s kind of a magical thing that happened.”
The bond between teen and feline was also immediate.
“He likes playing with yarn and he loves being pet,” Mikayla stated. “He sleeps with me every night. I love him.”