Terminally Ill Kitten Teaches Young Family About Love & Compassion

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on March 24, 2017

Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) in Salt Lake City, Utah has just one mission – to “save them all.” By “all,” they mean every pet that enters a shelter, including those that might otherwise be killed due to age, behavior, or health. A kitten like Apple, a tabby and white domestic medium hair, would have been euthanized immediately, had she found herself in a kill shelter. Luckily, she came to Best Friends instead.

Image Credit: Screenshot via Best Friends Animal Society


When Apple first arrived, she had ringworm and tested positive for feline panleukopenia (distemper), an often fatal virus that attacks the immune system and intestinal tract. As if that weren’t enough, the tiny fluff ball tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) – also known as Feline AIDS – an incurable disease that can leave cats more susceptible to illness and shorten their lifespan.

Image Credit: Screenshot via Best Friends Animal Society


With treatment, little Apple was able to beat panleukopenia and ringworm, but another heartbreaking diagnosis was still to come. After being adopted, Apple tested positive for Feline Leukemia (FelV) at a routine vet visit. The adopters promptly returned her to BFAS.

Image Credit: Screenshot via Best Friends Animal Society


Many cats with FelV lead relatively normal lives, but sadly, Apple will not be one of them. She has a severe form of the disease that has already spread to her bone marrow, signifying its final stages. She needed to find a family willing to love a terminally ill cat.

Image Credit: Screenshot via Best Friends Animal Society


As fate would have it, Apple didn’t have to wait long for that family to come along. Wendy and Justin Bylsma visited the BFAS adoption center with their two youngest children – Graeme, 3, and Rhys, 1 – to teach them about the importance of rescuing homeless pets.

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They had no intention of adopting a cat that day, but when they met Apple and heard her story, they couldn’t bear to go home without her.

Through Apple, the Bylsmas have an opportunity to give a deserving creature a wonderful, loving home. They are also able to provide their children with a real-life learning experience about mercy, compassion and selflessness.

“They’re learning that sometimes we have to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations to make others feel better,” Wendy said.

Image Credit: Screenshot via Best Friends Animal Society


For now, Apple is a happy, playful kitty who loves to pounce on ankles and harass the family dog. She has tons of toys, 5 kids to play with, and all the love and attention she can handle. When it’s time for their inevitable goodbye, Wendy knows it will be sad for the whole family, but she is comforted by the fact that they gave her a loving home when no one else would.

“Our time with Apple may be short, there’s never a guarantee of tomorrow,” she told Best Friends. “She reminds us to enjoy the moments we have together.”

Featured Image via Wendy Byslma/Best Friends Animal Society