Sal - A Death Row Cat Who Touched My Heart | Lola The Rescued Cat
Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sal - A Death Row Cat Who Touched My Heart

When I started following cats and other pets on Facebook in 2011 after adopting Lola, I had no idea that they, and their families, would come to mean so much to me.  I was amazed at how an animal I had never seen in person could find their way into my heart just by reading their story and seeing their photo on the computer.  I have laughed at their antics, liked their cute photos, and cried when they made their journeys to the Rainbow Bridge.  Real, heart wrenching, sob inducing tears. I have sincerely felt like they took a piece of my heart when they passed.  It’s not every animal I see on Facebook that makes me feel that way, but there are some, for reasons I still cannot wrap my entire mind around, that touch me in a profound way.  Sal was one of those beautiful little souls. 

I used to follow a page on Facebook that would spotlight animals who are on the euthanasia list in the city shelters.  Every night I would see those little faces, most of whom were terrified and barely holding on to life, staring at me through the computer screen and I would cry.  I felt completely helpless because there was nothing I could do to help them, nothing I could do to change their situation, and nothing I could do to alter the horrid shelter system they found themselves in.  Eventually I had to stop reading the page.  But one night in May, 2013 a friend tagged me in a photo of a cat named Sal.  Sal was on “the list” and desperately needed to be pulled. In his photo he looked sick, heartbroken - and defeated.

It was that same look I had seen so many times in the eyes of so many animals.  I immediately pledged money for his rescue and started to pray because I knew it would take a very special person to take this cat.  I checked over and over to see if he was saved, and by a miracle, he was.  A wonderful woman named Carolyn Albers had him pulled with the help of Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and Hudson Valley Animal Rescue and Sanctuary.  Sal was safe.

Carolyn and I had a mutual friend, and I was hoping to hear updates on his progress.  I was so happy when she started a page for Sal, Saving Sal – Journey Of A Death Row Pardon (now named Saving Sal And Friends – Journey Of The Death Row Pardon).  I immediately started to follow Sal’s journey and checked the page every day.

At first, Carolyn was told to put Sal to sleep. However, as she looked into his eyes she knew there was life there and sought out another vet who disagreed with the original prognosis. He gave Sal a chance. Sal was feral, no doubt about it, but that didn’t deter Carolyn.  From the moment he entered her home she showered him with love and attention.  Sal had to live in a cage at first, and then Carolyn was able to upgrade him to his own personal condo. 

She moved his condo from her shelter to her home, and put Sal in front of a big window so he could see the world.  Her children visited Sal and spoke to him every day.  He was being integrated into his new life.  He would hiss and growl every time Carolyn opened his condo to feed him and change his litter, but she never gave up.  She knew some day she would win Sal over and he would no longer be terrified. 

Unfortunately, Sal caught the URI that so many cats get in the shelter.  Those of us who have adopted shelter cats with this virus know how hard it is to fight it and clear it up.  Poor Sal did not escape this illness without casualty.  He ended up with a terrible eye infection that did not respond to treatment and he ultimately lost his eye.  It only added to his character.  

Finally the day came where Sal was able to leave his condo. Carolyn continued to share his journey on his Facebook page, and I now shared my love for Sal with over 2000 other people.  Watching him acclimate to his new life was a pleasure and an honor.  I laughed, smiled, and cried. But this time the tears were tears of happiness and I couldn't have been more elated for Sal.  

Sal lived a happy life in his new forever home.  He adjusted to life with a family and actually made friends with his feline housemates.  He was treated like a king.  

One day in February, 2015 Carolyn’s husband found Sal unresponsive under the bed.  Carolyn hugged him close (the only time she was able to hold him) as she frantically called her vet on the phone. But it was to no avail, as Sal passed peacefully in her arms.  I found out about Sal’s passing as I was browsing Facebook on my phone and saw the post on another friend’s page. I frantically found my way to Sal’s page, praying this was not correct. Sadly, it was true.  I was devastated. I cried and I felt as if one of my own had left me.  I didn’t want to accept that this beautiful little soul, who I followed for so long, was gone.  

After adopting Sal, Carolyn was inspired to start Oliver’s Orphan Oasis, a one woman rescue that she operates from her home.  I had the pleasure of meeting Carolyn when she agreed to take a feral kitten my boyfriend saved from near death when it was almost run over by a car.  She took the little hissing, spitting thing without blinking an eye, socialized her, and found her a forever home.  

Sal’s journey will always stay with me. When I look at this photo of him,

finally comfortable in his new home, it brings me joy.  When I look into his eyes I no longer see defeat.  I see happiness, tenderness, contentment. And peace.  Sal spent the last days of his life surrounded by love. Godspeed, Sal. You will continue to live on in the hearts of many.  

All information and photos used with permission from Carolyn Albers

Would you like to comment?

  1. What a special cat Sal was. I'm so glad his amazing journey was such an inspiration for the human who took him in - and for so many of those who followed his story.

  2. Oh, Dawn, this is heart-wrenching but also encouraging. I am so glad Sal knew warmth and love and safety in his life. What an incredibly tough time he had. What a blessing Carolyn was to him! It was so kind of her to take him in. He was clearly not an "easy" kitty. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Rest in Peace Sal and God Bless Carolyn for giving him love and a forever home so he had the chance to know that joy!

  4. Carolyn is such an inspiration for never giving up on Sal! You all were blessed having known such a special guy. I'm sorry for your loss.

  5. I too have come to love other people's kitties because of the internet. Sal was one of the lucky ones, and is now free of the pain of the fear that being feral inflicts on cats. Carolyn was blessed to be able to help him.

  6. What a heart wrenching story! We can get so involved in the lives of kitties now because of the internet. It is good, but also can be emotionally exhausting! So glad Sal found a loving home for his final years!

  7. It is so heart breaking to think of the ones who never got to have what Sal did. I'm so glad that Carolyn was able to give him the home he deserved and has gone on to help more cats!


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