Adopted Kitten Puts Unconditional Love Center Stage
Kalou shows Maddie that true love is never an act.
Maddie + Kalou
Volunteering at a cat rescue helped Maddie find a renewed sense of purpose, and a new best friend: a kitten named Kalou.
"Kalou talks to me all day long and loves me the same whether I’m on a TV series or in between jobs. All of the things the acting industry has told me to dislike about myself, she loves unconditionally."
The start of 2017 was rocky — I spent a lot of my days in bed, tired for no reason and feeling a little lost. I’d suffered from depression for the last 10 years of my life and was in a particularly low slump. I dragged myself to a therapy session and halfway through the session, right when I started to cry, my therapist’s cat came out from the other room and snuggled up right on my lap. The therapist looked at me and said, “I think you need to work with animals.” Z
As an actor, I spent a lot of my time in between jobs and at home during the day. I had grown up with dogs and had never had much of a relationship with cats, but I decided to take her advice. I quickly started volunteering at the Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats, and my life changed.
For the first time since I’d participated in community service in high school, I was thinking about something other than myself. I was focused on bottle feeding these little kittens, cleaning up after them, and socializing the difficult ones. Once a week for a few hours, I could be completely immersed in looking after someone else. It was the one place during the week where no one cared what I looked like or how I dressed — things that had become wildly important to me as an actor.
Now I’ve been volunteering every week at the Kitty Bungalow for the last three years. I’ve fallen in love with cats, watched them get beautiful homes and families. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life; especially because it led me to my beloved Kalou.
For my 26th birthday, my fiancé and I adopted a kitten from Kitty Bungalow. We were instantly drawn to her and her unique coloring: she has a Phantom of the Opera eye patch while the rest of her fur is a beautiful gray. She is a little spunky and has a big personality. I held her in my arms and asked her if she wanted to come home with me, to which she responded with a tender squeak.
Kalou is there for me on my bad days when I can’t get out of bed, and always races to the door to greet me when I get home. She talks to me all day long and loves me the same whether I’m on a TV series or in between jobs. All of the things the acting industry has told me to dislike about myself, she loves unconditionally. She doesn’t care if my breath is stinky (in fact she loves morning breath), I have acne, or I’ve gained a couple pounds. The unconditional love from my cat and the love I’m able to give at Kitty Bungalow has brought me a long way on my journey to self-love, and that has been the greatest gift of all.
Each year, the Petco Foundation Holiday Wishes campaign invites adopters to share stories of how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Maddie won Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats in Los Angeles, California a 2020 Holiday Wishes award.