Mr. Mittens & Teen Face Challenges Together, Votes Can…

Mr. Mittens & Teen Face Challenges Together, Votes Can Mean Grant for Cat Shelter

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 2, 2020)

Ferndale, MI -Thirteen year old Sydney Hertzberg has a special bond with her kitten Mr. Mittens, and their inspiring story is now part of a contest for people to vote for their favorite story and earn money for the rescue of their choice.  For Hertzberg, The Ferndale Cat Shelter isn’t just a place to volunteer, it’s where she found her best furry friend, and she hopes her story will help them win.

There are 50 national finalists in the Petco Foundation’s annual Holiday Wishes campaign.

Ferndale Cat Shelter has the opportunity to earn up to $25,000 in the contest, but they need the community’s support.

Through Dec. 16, noon CST, the public can vote for Ferndale Cat Shelter’s winning Holiday Wishes story in the People’s Choice competition at

Hertzberg began volunteering for the Ferndale Cat Shelter with her mom, Julie, in fall of 2019. He story details her struggle with chronic illness and the power of feline companionship.

Hertzberg has POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome)  and a connective tissue disorder.  Adotping Mr. Mittens has helped bring her comfort in the painful moments her body experiences.

“From the time his four ounce, 10-day-old body curled up in the palm of my hand as he looked at me with his glowing sapphire eyes, he would know exactly where to lie to relieve my pain,” she said in her essay.  The way he pounces and plays helps soothe her aching muscles.  “As we spent more time together, I realized that when I held Mr. Mittens or he jumped on my shoulder, it helped relieve my pain.”

Not only is the kitten therapeutic, he’s also awesome.

“When I adopted Mr. Mittens, one of my goals was to give him the best quality of life and teach him things people don’t believe cats can do,” Hertzberg said in her entry.  “Even when he was just figuring out how to walk, I leash trained him. We have accomplished what some would say is impossible: swimming in a life vest and riding a skateboard.

“Whenever I am teaching him something new or going someplace with him, I feel like we are bringing out the best in each other. We love hiking which helps me to feel good, and he sits at the door with his leash, just waiting and hoping it’s time.

“Even though he is a cat, I feel like when I’m going on an adventure with him, I have no limits. I can do whatever I want to and just forget about my pain. I have always felt a bond to animals but with Mr. Mittens, I feel an unconditional love that will never be broken.”

Ferndale Cat Shelter Director Deanne Iovan is touched that Hertzberg is sharing her story, and is optimistic about the contest.  “We encourage our community of animal lovers to vote for our story,” she said.  “If 2020 has shown us anything it’s that pets change our lives for the better. Your vote can help us earn lifesaving funds so we can bring more pets in need together with loving families.”

Ferndale Cat Shelter is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, no-kill rescue dedicated to providing medical care, adoption services, foster homes, and trap-neuter-release programs for felines in the Metro Detroit area. As a no-kill organization, the shelter’s mission is to improve the lives of felines in the region and elevate the standards of cat guardianship and adoption.

The Ferndale Cat Shelter also operates the Catfé Lounge, located at 821 Livernois St. in Ferndale. The Catfé offers the community an opportunity to interact with (and potentially adopt) rescued cats and kittens in a comfortable and unique environment.

Top 5 People’s Choice vote recipients will receive:

 One (1) First Place: $25,000

 Two (2) Second Place Winners: $10,000 each

 Two (2) Third Place Winners: $5,000 each

The deadline to vote is December 16, 2020, noon CST. Winners will be announced late December. To view all 50 finalist stories and vote for a favorite, visit

Since 2013, more than 20,000 adopters from across the country have shared how their pets have changed their lives to help make more than $5.8M in Holiday Wishes come true for animal welfare organizations that make these adoption matches possible. For more information about the Petco Foundation Holiday Wishes campaign, visit and join the conversation on social media using #HolidayWishes

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