Gertrude had every reason to hate dogs, and no one would have blamed her. A couple months ago, the 2-year-old cat was attacked by a pack of dogs in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, where she had been living on the streets.
Warning: Graphic photo below
A local woman found Gertrude — it’s not clear if she witnessed the attack or found her afterwards. The woman rushed Gertrude to a veterinary clinic run by Compassion Without Borders (CWOB), an organization that rescues street dogs in Mexico, to see if they could help her.
“She was really badly injured, and she had a lot of open wounds,” Camblor, cofounder of CWOB, told The Dodo. “She needed to have immediate surgery.”
When the vet team went to operate on Gertrude, they discovered she was pregnant. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t save Gertrude’s unborn babies — the dogs had ripped into her abdomen, causing a lot of internal damage. But Gertrude herself survived, which was a miracle itself.
About a week later, while Gertrude was recovering from surgery, a puppy named Clementine arrived at the clinic.
Clementine had an equally sad, but entirely different, story. She and her three littermates were being kept as pets, but their owner dumped them at the clinic when they got sick and didn’t return for them.
“They came in in very poor condition, and they’d been away from their mother for maybe about a week,” Camblor said. “They were tiny — maybe about a pound each. Everybody was very sick. The clinic staff did their best, but Clementine was the only puppy who survived.”
When Claudia Ortega, the CWOB clinic manager, was walking past Gertrude’s cage with Clementine in her arms, Gertrude did something unexpected.
“Gertrude would approach the front of the cage and start chirping,” Camblor said. “She would also kind of head butt and press against the cage.”
Ortega set up a supervised meeting, and Gertrude and Clementine immediately hit it off.
“Gertrude started grooming her and purring and soliciting affection from Clementine,” Camblor said. “And Clementine was just so tiny that it was probably nice to have another warm body to cuddle up to and to be friends with.”
Whenever Ortega tried to separate Gertrude and Clementine, Gertrude became distressed, and cried until she was reunited with Clementine. So for the rest of their time at the clinic, Ortega kept Gertrude and Clementine in the same cage. A couple weeks later, Ortega moved the pair into foster care in her own house, and she continued to keep them together.
Gertrude happily took on a motherly role with Clementine, grooming her and cuddling her.
“They became inseparable,” Camblor said. “Little Clementine sleeps on top of Gertrude. They’re constantly together.”
“Clementine benefits from it tremendously,” Camblor added. “Gertrude is a fabulous mother who keeps her impeccably clean, grooms her and gives her warmth and love.”
Gertrude even tolerates Clementine’s playful puppy antics.
“Gertrude’s a saint,” Camblor said. “Clementine’s a playful puppy, and she likes to roughhouse with Gertrude, and Gertrude puts up with it and plays back.”
Last week, Camblor move Gertrude and Clementine to California, where they could find forever homes in the United States. As she prepared for the trip, Camblor tried to place Gertrude and Clementine in separate carriers. “I thought it would be hard for a cat to travel that long in smaller carrier with a puppy,” Camblor said.
But Gertrude cried and cried, so Camblor ended up keeping them together.
“I think the whole thing is surprising,” Camblor. “Even if she [Gertrude] hadn’t been attacked by dogs, I personally, in all my years of rescue, haven’t seen that kind of interspecies connection before.”
Now that they’re in California, the pair is in foster care — together, of course. And Camblor hopes they’ll always remain that way.
“We are trying to get them adopted out together, which we know is a very special request,” Camblor said. “But we’re going to try and see if there’s anyone who’d be willing to open their home to both of these guys. We’re hoping the right people will step forward who will be able to offer a cat and a puppy a home.”
If you think you’re the right family to adopt this very special duo, get in touch with CWOB. You can also help CWOB rescue more dogs and cats in Mexico, and give them new lives in the United States, by making a donation.