Story of Teen and Kitten Wins $50,000 Grant for Ferndale Cat Shelter

Story of Teen and Kitten Wins $50,000 Grant for Ferndale Cat Shelter

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 20, 2020)

Ferndale, MI – The votes are in, and of the fifty stories shared in the Petco Foundation’s annual Holiday Wishes campaign it was the story of Sydney Hertzberg and her furry pal Mittens that won the hearts of voters and earned the Ferndale Cat Shelter a $50,000 grant.

Hertzberg is a volunteer at the Ferndale Cat Shelter, and has also fostered over a dozen cats.  One of those cats became her fur-ever kitty as well as the subject of the teen’s winning essay.

Mittens was just a few days old when someone dropped him off at the shelter. Without its mom, the kitten and Sydney formed a special bond.  She’s even taught it how to walk on a leash, swim, and skateboard.

While Mittens has found himself a good home, Hertzberg has found a source of joy and health.

The 13 year old has POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome)  and a connective tissue disorder.  Adopting 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.”

Sharing her story online helped others recognize the value of supporting local animal rescues like the Ferndale Cat Shelter.  Being the top vote-getter means money that will not only support the shelter in the coming year, but will help add long-term sustainability to the organization which relies on donations and fundraising, as well as adoption fees, to survive.

Ferndale Cat Shelter Director Deanne Iovan and the board have not yet figured out how best to put the money to use. “We haven’t discussed what we are going to use the money for specifically yet,” she said.  “Whatever we use it for has to be an investment in our ability to help cats for years to come.”

Currently there are 200 cats in their care, with some being fostered and some in the Ferndale CatFe – an adoption center/future coffeehouse at 821 Livernois. Fundraising is ongoing for expenses such as medical care, food, litter, rent and utilities.

Since 1999, Petco Foundation has invested millions in adoption and medical care programs, spay and neuter services, pet cancer research and numerous other lifesaving initiatives—always investing wisely in organizations with the most lifesaving impact. In partnership with animal welfare organizations and 1,500 Petco stores across the country, we help bring pets together with loving families every day.  Learn more about their efforts at

Learn more about Ferndale Cat Shelter at

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