Abby and Duncan’s Most Heartwarming Story

Most Heartwarming Story Contest

Thank you to Helen Woodward Animal Center for sharing this wonderful story of pet adoption from their Most Heartwarming Story Contest . Abby and Duncan’ story was submitted by The Animal Rescue League of Elk Grove, an Iams Home 4 the Holidays participating organization, in 2007.

Abby and Duncan's Story

Abby and Duncan

Abby and Duncan’s Story

On October 4, 2005 Animal Rescue League received a call that two kittens had been pulled from an industrial sized trash dumpster outside of a dentist’s office moments before a garbage truck was schedule to arrive for pick up.  One of the kittens was severely malnourished, both were flea infested.  Upon further evaluation it was discovered that the larger of the two kittens was a female, black in color and quite a little scrapper.  She was named Abby.  The other kitten, a male, weighed in at 8 ounces – less than half the size of his sister.  Too weakened to make a sound it was his sister’s cries which had alerted rescuers to their presence.  The little male was white and gray with huge eyes and long wobbly legs that could not support him.  He was named Duncan.

Abby and Duncan's Story

Sweet Abby

Abby was in much better shape than her brother and refused to be bottle fed.  She had the will of a survivor and showed all of us that although her teeth might’ve just come in that she wanted to eat baby cat kibbles and to drink from a bowl.  Duncan was totally opposite.  For the first 3 days in Animal Rescue League’s care he had to be fed with a syringe.  He was too weak to nurse from a bottle and we had to be very diligent about keeping him hydrated and ever watchful that he might become sick.  Duncan didn’t even have the strength to struggle when we would wrap him up snug and cozy in a blanket to hold and feed him.  While Abby started to play right away and displayed her fun loving personality little Duncan just stared at us with huge unblinking eyes as if saying “I can’t believe I’m still alive!”.

As day 3 turned into day 4 and so on Duncan became stronger little by little.  We all waited for the day we could call him “Spunky Dunky”.

Abby and Duncan's Story

Spunky Dunky

Abby however had enough energy for both of them – she would race around the room and then run back over to where Duncan was sitting, content in just watching her, and knock him over.  Volunteers would call out, “Be careful Abby, Duncan is so little!”.  Duncan would pick himself up and watch her as she sprinted off in the direction of a new toy or a larger kitty to play with.  Abby always returned to him though and tried to include him in play.  At first we worried she was too rough, but then we realized she was working to make him stronger, she wanted him to fight back and be like her – a survivor.

When Abby would tire she would crawl into a pet bed with Duncan at her side – once settled in together Abby would reach around Duncan with her right front leg and tuck him in close to her.  They slept together like this for weeks until Duncan’s strength built up and then the position changed to one of snuggling up face to face.

Animal Rescue League has had a few opportunities to place Abby or Duncan individually in homes over the past two years, we declined each time as these two had stayed bonded and our goal was to place them in a home together.  We’ve seen other siblings be close as kittens and then go their own way as they got older, not Abby and Duncan.  If you saw Duncan in the bedroom you just had to scan the room to see that Abby was there also.  If you found Abby on the sofa in the living room Duncan was probably in a chair nearby.  At night they were almost always together snuggled in a cat tree or entwined on a bed.  Abby saved Duncan, we felt they deserved to be together for life.

Around Thanksgiving a mother and her children came into our adoption center at a local PETCO store.  They fell in love with Abby and upon hearing the story of Abby and Duncan and seeing what a sweetheart he was they left the store discussing how adopting two cats would be much better than adopting one.  We held our breath, our experience has been that if an adoption application isn’t filled out right then and there that an adoption doesn’t take place.  The family seemed wonderful.  They had another cat in the home that sounded like it would be a good friend to Abby and Duncan.  We wanted them to come back and take the next step to adopting these two very special kitties who had stolen our hearts.

We didn’t have to wait long as the next day the father came in with one of the kids and wanted to meet Abby and Duncan.  He said his wife had talked about them all night and that she really wanted them.  He had discouraged her as he hoped to make adopting the two a Christmas surprise.  We cautioned him that our process involved a home visit as we wanted Abby and Duncan to meet their other pets (they also had a dog) to ensure it would be a good fit for all.  He agreed and a visit was scheduled for a time when his wife was at work.  Everything went well, all the animals were curious about each other and the family was even more excited about making this adoption happen.

On December 24, 2007, Abby and Duncan were finally placed in their forever home.  They waited a long time for a home of their own, but finally the family they were meant for found them.  While those of us at Animal Rescue League will miss them we are content in the knowledge that the two of them will always be together.  And Duncan, well, he turned out to be just as spunky as his sister and they are now exactly the same size.

Abby and Duncan's Story

Abby and Duncan

Iams Home 4 the Holidays is an annual pet-adoption campaign dedicated to helping place orphaned pets into happy, loving homes. Started in 1999 by Helen Woodward Animal Center (in partnership with Iams) this is the campaign’s 14th year. Working with thousands of participating shelters and rescue organizations from around the world, the campaign has helped more than 7 million pets find loving homes. The pet adoption drive began on October 1 and runs through January 2, 2013.

To learn about how you can help get more pets adopted during Iams Home 4 the Holidays, visit and

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  1. queencatlady says

    I love this story- it serves as further proof to me that animals DO form familial relationships and care for one another deeply. Too many ignorant people do not give their intelligence and abilities credit. <3