It was a brutal winter in North America this year. It came early, it disappeared briefly, and then returned with a vengeance. Nathaniel Styer was working from home in February when he looked out his window to see a blizzard crushing down an intense burst of wind and heavy snowfall. The aggressive storm was brought on by the polar vortex, known as a “snow squall,” and it had begun to blanket his Brooklyn neighborhood in chaotic white.
However cozy Nathaniel felt in his apartment, minding his own business and keeping busy despite the raging storm outside, he felt gratitude to be warm. But Nathaniel couldn't help but notice something else, besides the chunky, white flurries buzzing around...
A neighborhood guest perched at his window, no longer confident with the streets she had become accustomed to.
Nathaniel recognized the cat as a member of a nearby stray cat colony named Chunk Chunk. The tabby cat had hopped onto the ledge of his window and appeared to be begging to be let in. In fact, in an interview with The Dodo, Styer said, "she was 100% asking to be let in."
Styer knew the cat, and believed she was experiencing a moment of crisis, saying:
I've never seen her react this way before. It was clear that she didn't know what to do in the storm.
Styer admitted he has not always been the biggest fan of the neighborhood's stray cats... however, his fiancee, Renee Becerra was definitely fond of the fluffy felines. She devotes her time to the whole colony and tries to keep all of the cats healthy! Chunk Chunk was newer to the colony, having only appeared sometime near Fall. This may have had something to do with her inability to cope with the extreme weather.
I've always been pretty reticent about bringing the cats inside, but I knew Renee would really want me to help Chunk Chunk out. I love Renee and I knew helping Chunk Chunk was the right thing to do.
So, Styer opened the window to let Chunk Chunk in from the bitter cold. Once the previous shy cat was safe and warm it seemed... well, it seemed she wasn't quite sure what to do!
She allowed me to pick her up, which is unusual for our community cats. When I set her down, she instantly ran around the house and tried to run out through another window. She learned it was closed when she ran into it.
Nathaniel decided to place Chunk Chunk in the bathroom, appropriately away from their dog. Eventually, she settled. She was calm when Becerra arrived home.
For her part? She was not surprised to learn the identity of their new house guest!
From the first time she appeared at our window, she’s been one of the friendliest community cats that I’ve ever come across. She’s always asking for pets and starts purring within seconds.
The couple moved to their apartment only two years ago but have been helping stray cats the whole time they've lived near the stray community. Rebecca says they have helped several litters of kittens find their own forever homes!
In the spring, Becerra plans to trap as many adults as she can in order to spay/neuter and re-release them, thus helping control the stray community from further booming.
Chunk Chunk's clipped ear indicates she has already been spayed!
Becerra spent most of the unexpected cold spell helping the cats in her community, but she encourages others to do the same!
Winter is the hardest time of year [for these cats]. I’ve built three winter shelters and regularly provide food. Winter shelters can be bought from some cat rescues but they’re also really easy to make ... If you have the space or a safe quiet spot in your neighborhood, I would definitely recommend putting some out.
And what about Chunk Chunk? Becerra indicates the potential for a long life indoors:
We’re still figuring out what’s next for Chunk Chunk, but in the meantime, she’ll be staying with us. Chunk Chunk seems to be more suited for life indoors versus outdoors, so I’ll be reaching out to our contacts at the ASPCA to see if they can assist me in finding her a home.
However... a few months in and it's looking like Chunk Chunk may have her forever home with Rebecca and Nathaniel.
It's true, the cat chooses you!
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