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On Dec. 27, just two days after Christmas, a man made a surprising discovery on his way home from work. Temperatures were below freezing and snow was falling, and when the man pulled over to determine whether the roads needed plowed, he spotted an orange and white kitten sitting on top of a polystyrene box. The surrounding ground was white, so it’s amazing he saw the box at all.
After clearing the roads, the man returned with his daughter, Tara, and they located the box in the woods. It contained two kittens — and they were in bad shape.
"We saw the kittens inside the box cuddling for warmth," Tara says. "Their condition was awful. They were freezing, dirty, and sick. We were certain one of them weren’t going to make it through the night."
Tara and her dad rushed the kittens home and gave them a bath to warm them up. After the kittens, named Cash and Tango, got through their first night, they went straight to the vet, where they were put on antibiotics for a respiratory virus and worms. At the time of their rescue, they were approximately three to four months old. Whether they were abandoned in the box or wandered into a feral cat shelter someone had set up, no one knows.
Slowly, the pair is being rehabilitated — but it is an ongoing process. A few weeks after they were rescued, they returned to the vet to be neutered and have their tails partially amputated due to frostbite. They’ve also gradually recovered from their trauma and started to come out of their shells. Tango, the healthier of the two, is more outgoing, whereas Cash is more reticent, even though he has made a full recovery from his illness.
"Tango is extremely extroverted," Tara says. "He runs around anywhere and everywhere and plays with anything that moves. He loves to cuddle. Cash, who was the sicker of the two, is fully recovered; however, he is a very timid cat. He loves to cuddle in a quiet room, but doesn’t like to come out into the living room."
One thing Tara didn’t see coming is the cats’ unexpected Internet fame. When she and her dad rescued the kitties, she documented the process and shared the photos on Imgur. What resulted was a tremendous outpouring of support, with people thanking them for saving the kittens and sharing their own rescue stories. Cash and Tango’s photos have appeared on sites including Reddit, Viral Nova, and the Daily Mail. They even have their own Facebook page, where Tara shares photos and provides updates on their progress.
The generous online rescue community provided more than just moral support. With the kitties’ care running up costly vet bills, many people on Reddit and Imgur offered to lend a hand.
"We never expected the story to get so popular," Tara says. "I have to say that the most surprising thing has been the donations. We were fully expecting to fork over a lot of money for the vet bills, but Reddit and Imgur helped us with their donations to not only pay for the bills but also buy the kitties toys and food, and one generous user even donated a kitty condo."
Naturally, Tara’s family decided to adopt Cash and Tango, who Tara says have "put life back into their home" after the loss of several other cats. With two dogs in the house, Tara says that integrating Cash and Tango into the family has been a challenge.
"Our dogs were so excited to see new animals that they constantly wanted to chase them and smell them," she says. "The cats were petrified and wanted to fight all the time. It took a long time of slowly introducing them to minimize any incidence. For a little while, we were worried they would never get along."
Fortunately, the animals have adjusted to each other’s presence, and Cash and Tango are growing and getting healthier every day. They are very attached to each other — Tara has said on Imgur that they do not like to be separated. They have won over Tara’s family in a big way.
"They have melted our hearts!" she says. "They are such sweet, docile cats. They’ve given us an amazing experience, and in return we want to offer them a loving home."
Read stories of rescue on Catster:
More by Angela Lutz:
About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.