It was a freezing December morning when a woman in Yonkers, New York, decided to take her dog for a quick walk around the block. She wasn’t planning on staying outside long, but a mysterious cardboard box on her street caught her eye, and her intuition told her to check it out.
As her dog inched closer to the box to take a sniff, something inside it stirred.
“She was like, ‘Wait a minute, what’s inside that box?’” Lisa Winters, director of Little Wanderers NYC, told The Dodo.
The Good Samaritan opened the box and was shocked to find an adorable orange cat staring back at her.
“He was so scared,” Winters said.
Without skipping a beat, the woman scooped the cat up and brought him to a nearby veterinary hospital. She didn’t know how long he’d been out there, but he was finally getting the care he needed.
When he got to the hospital, the veterinary team was surprised by how quickly the cat warmed up to them.
“He cuddled up right away,” Winters said. “He was a friendly cat who was a bit scared, but mostly grateful to be out of the cold.”
They ran tests to make sure the cat was as healthy as he looked, and were happy when everything came back OK.
X-rays revealed a previous leg injury that hadn’t heal properly, but nothing could be done to correct it, and, overall, the cat was in great shape.
So the vet team reached out to Little Wanderers NYC to see if they could help find him a loving home.
Little Wanderers immediately took the cat into their care and named him Elf while they searched for his forever family.
Elf was just as affectionate with his friends at Little Wanderers as he was with his vet team, which led Winters to believe that he’d had a family in the past. She’ll never know the circumstances that led to Elf’s family leaving him in a box, but she doesn’t think it’s fair to judge.
“Veterinary care is unaffordable and inaccessible for a lot of people,” Winters said. “People sometimes have no choice.”
For Winters, the most important thing is that Elf is safe now. In addition to helping cats like Elf find forever homes, Little Wanderers hopes to continue educating the public about responsible pet care and making veterinary resources more accessible.
Within a few weeks of being in Little Wanderers’ care, Elf was placed in his perfect forever home. His new parents, Miri and Eliezer, fell instantly in love.
“They’re a lovely couple who are excited to spoil him,” Winters said.
Elf’s family renamed him Sunkist, after the bright orange soda that matches his fur. Now, Sunkist spends his days playing with his favorite toys and cuddling up with his family. His memories of being abandoned on a busy street corner in a cardboard box are officially behind him.
“He’ll never sleep in an Amazon box again,” Winters said, “except for pleasure after opening boxes full of toys and treats.”
To help cats like Sunkist get the care they need, make a donation to Little Wanderers NYC.