A beautiful black cat spent more than two years at the Dutchess County SPCA in New York while rescuers tried diligently to find her the perfect adopter — one who would understand her special needs and give her the time and space to bond and adapt at her own pace.

Tapenade, formerly known as Annie, arrived at the shelter after a healthcare worker surrendered her on behalf of her guardian, who had dementia. 

The elderly cat had a habit of chasing — and chewing — her own tail, a symptom that a veterinarian connected to Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, a rare disease that can cause seizures and self-mutilation if left untreated.


Tapenade (Courtesy of Dutchess County SPCA)

The shelter quickly put Tapenade on medications, which improved her situation considerably. But the disease was still considered too daunting by most potential adopters, Executive Director Lynne Meloccaro told news.

“Finding the right guardian for her is a prolonged process because it has to be someone who understands her condition and will commit to caring for her,” Meloccaro told News 10. “It will take a special guardian to accept that Annie will always have her own way of expressing affection.”

News 10’s story about the feline captured the attention of Renee, who has had seizures from a young age. Renee drove an hour and a half to meet the cat. 

“To hear that a kitty had to endure two years without a permanent home was awful, and I was bound to remedy that,” Renee told news. “As someone with a rare condition myself — Sturge-Weber Syndrome — I know the unknown can be scary, but I was ready to face it with her.”

Tapenade and Renee

Renee and Tapenade (Courtesy of Dutchess County SPCA)

After 814 days at the shelter, Tapenade was going home — and the Dutchess County SPCA said they couldn’t be happier.  Meloccaro told People that from the cat’s perspective, Renee “must seem like they dropped from heaven.”

Renee has three other cat companions for Tapenade, who slowly came out of her shell and has claimed a favorite new spot by the window where she can survey birds. 

Renee described Tapenade as “very sweet” and curious.

“I’m hoping we can have plenty of happy years in the future,” Renee told Business Insider


Tapenade (Courtesy of Dutchess County SPCA)

Lady Freethinker is overjoyed that this sweet cat found a home with someone who understands and appreciates her! Tapenade’s story is a heartwarming reminder that the perfect companion animal could be waiting in a shelter near you.

That includes older animals with special needs — just ask Renee.

“I hope that people are able to look at our story and realize that they shouldn’t be afraid to take home an older or special needs pet,” Renee told People. “It may seem like a lot on paper, and that may intimidate new pet owners. Just know that it’s worth it.”