Transformation stories


Sometimes you’re simply in the right place at the right time. Nothing could be closer to the truth for two 9-week-old kittens named Senna and Nolina. Malnourished and unsocialized, it was clear the kittens had been on their own for far too long. Just when their path was taking shape and looking bleaker by the minute, a serendipitous encounter would forever change the course of their lives.

At their first examination, the two swatted and hissed at staff, and had to be handled by the scruff or with bite gloves. Both were separated from their mother earlier than veterinary guidelines recommend, which may account for their scrawny frames. Additionally, Senna had to contend with an upper respiratory infection and severed dehydration.

Senna Bailey 3

Sarah Plagens, experienced foster and Dallas Pets Alive! Cat Marketing Admin, happened upon them by chance. Her friends (and fellow cat whisperers) were headed to DAS to meet their new foster animals and she decided to tag along. While she was ‘just browsing’ in the kitten room, she noticed a pair of uniquely-colored kittens: a Colorpoint and a Tortoiseshell.

“I spotted Senna and her sister in a corner kennel looking thin and scared. Senna especially was really skinny and just looked pitiful.” said Plagens. “I reached my finger in to rub Senna’s chin, and she purred, and I just knew I couldn’t leave them at the shelter!”

Despite her decision to take a break from fostering, having already housed two other foster cats in her spare room, Sarah couldn’t ignore Senna’s plight and ended up bringing both kittens home that evening.

Senna and Nolina

“I got my bathroom set up for their temporary home, and as soon as I opened the box, both kittens climbed out purring and went right into my lap,” Plagens said. “They’d just been terrified at the shelter.”

Senna was alarmingly pale, dehydrated, and thin beyond belief, with an upper respiratory infection to boot. Her coat was dry and she lacked the energy to groom herself. Sarah prepared for intense care; she might need to administer subcutaneous fluids. Instead, she opted for a hydrating Pedialyte soup mixed into their meals.

“They were both hungry and had a good appetite, but I just really wasn’t sure what I’d wake up to the next morning,” Plagens said. If she’d spent a few more days in the shelter getting sicker and more dehydrated, her story could have taken a completely different turn.”

Within a few days, the kittens felt safe enough to begin displaying their unique temperaments, but there was one thing they could agree on— medication is for the birds. Plagens shared a few humorous memories about Senna from the six weeks they shared together:

Bailey Senna 6

“Senna hated taking her medicine, so I had to wrap up a very angry ‘purrito’ multiple times a day while they were sick,” Plagens said. Same with her sister! She also liked to chew on wires. I made sure to warn her adopter to “puppy proof” their electronics before bringing her home!”

Days turned into weeks and both cats thrived under her watchful eye. They grew into spirited, yet affectionate and well-behaved lap cats, taking turns alternating between laps and the cat tower by the window. The progress Senna made and the joy she brought into Plagens’ home had found a place in her heart that would be cherished forever.

“Those last days with them were so great and I really miss them both!” Plagens said. “They were so worth it. Senna is such a special girl and she really brought a lot of joy to my home. I’m so glad I listened to my gut and brought her home to get some TLC. Senna just really needed a little extra care and I’m glad I was able to give it to her.”

Bailey Senna 2.5

As Senna’s health flourished, so too did her charm, leading to an encounter that would set her on a path to her forever home. Georganna Sellar, DPA Volunteer Assistant Director, discovered Senna on the Dallas Pets Alive website and was immediately captivated.

“My brother and I had a Siamese cat when we were little and they almost look the same,” Sellar said. So when I saw her beautiful color, and especially her blue eyes, I just had to have her! I showed her to my hubby and I said we cannot let her go by.”

Their first encounter occurred at the Adoption Container during Goodstock, one of the many exciting events on the DPA Calendar. Coincidentally, it was also the day of Senna’s calendar photo shoot.

“She was so tired after an exhausting morning living the life of a model,” Sellar said. “She was very calm, tired, and ready to go home.”

Senna Bailey 7

Integration into her new home wasn’t without its challenges. The initial introduction to her new canine siblings was marked by a mix of curiosity and typical animal kingdom negotiations; growls and hisses were exchanged, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. Through gradual and patient introduction over the course of 10 days, Ringo and Stella increasingly warmed up to their new sibling.

“She has a gate leading to her own room, in case she needs to get away, the dogs can’t get in there,” Sellar said. Every day, her, Ringo & Stella are getting more and more cozy around each other.”

Senna’s new life as a cherished family member is filled with delightful quirks and memorable moments. Her antics are a source of joy, particularly her playful behavior. She exhibits an adorable fascination with water dripping from the tub faucet. Despite her small size, she confidently claims her space among her much larger dog siblings during treat time, a testament to her bold spirit.

Bailey Senna 5

“We feel she is truly happy here,” Sellar said. “She loves new adventures and being spoiled. She loves the stairs and playing Peekaboo. The little noises she makes make us giggle. She is such a joy!”

Sellar recalled a recent incident that underscored their deep affection for Senna. After receiving a round of vaccinations, Senna retreated into a hidden spot so well concealed that her family feared she had escaped. The ensuing search involved neighbors, social media, and a great deal of distress, with the family looking both inside the house and outdoors for hours. It wasn’t until the next morning that Senna emerged from her hiding place, leading to a wave of relief and emotional gratitude from her family. The experience not only highlighted Senna’s clever hiding skills but also cemented her place in their hearts as an irreplaceable member of the family.

“We have never been so relieved and the blubbering started,” Sellar said. “Just made us realize how blessed we are to have her!”

Bailey Senna 4

Senna, now renamed Bailey, was not merely a cat saved; she was a spirit renewed — proof that even the most frightened, frail creatures can flourish with nurturing care. Her journey stands as a touching tribute to the transformative influence of our volunteers. United by a shared compulsion to aid animals in distress, coupled with fortuitous circumstances, these individuals were instrumental in Senna’s remarkable metamorphosis. Their experiences serve as an encouraging reminder of how the direst circumstances can be transformed in an instant by a single, benevolent gesture. Ready to help with another transformation?

Learn more about Becoming a Foster, check out our Adoptable Pets, visit our Adoption Process page, or view our Volunteer Opportunities!

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