Jennifer O’Loughlin is what we call a “repeat adopter.” She’s adopted four cats from ACC over the years. It all started in 2001 with a grumpy green-eyed tortie named Harley that she adopted and renamed Chloe and an orange tabby she named Fig. When her son Finn was born in 2007, Chloe immediately became fast friends with Finn. (Fun fact: Jennifer almost named Chloe “Finn” before she ever knew she would have a child). Says Jennifer, “I was never fearful the cats would scratch or harm the baby.  Of course, I was watchful but the cats just accepted him, especially Chloe who constantly nuzzled him. I called Finn “Chloe’s little kitten” because wherever he was, the cat was there looking over him.”

With a laugh, Jen adds, “Fig was a little more wary especially when the baby learned to walk- the cat took off for higher ground.” Fig was something of a klepto cat. “Fig was fond of jewelry. He’d pick up rings, and other jewelry pieces and I’d find them in odd places.” Chloe and Fig were a huge part of Finn’s life.

In 2016, when Chloe was almost 18, she became ill and passed away, and Jennifer went back to ACC to adopt a third kitty, 5-year old Greta. Finn renamed her Tinkerbell (was Greta) after a character in his favorite movie at the time (Hook) “because she was the prettiest girl in the world.” They had a very special bond.

In early May of this year, Fig was euthanized at almost 20. Jennifer had adopted him at 5 months old and was devastated—he shared so much of her life. Two weeks later, Tinkerbell was diagnosed with lymphoma of the liver and spleen. Jennifer gave her palliative care and she died a few weeks later, on Juneteenth. “My heart shattered…to lose two in a matter of weeks. “We were both devastated. Our home is not complete without a cat to love.” She knew that ACC was holding virtual adoptions during the covid shutdown and she filled out the online adoption application.

Meanwhile, ACC volunteer Dawn had spent a week fostering a special needs cat named Bella, who reportedly had been left behind in a house, which happens sometimes when people are evicted and don’t know what else to do with their pets.  “She was a special needs foster, because she was a little fearful and bitey.” In the care of her foster home, Bella became relaxed and calm, and reportedly not even afraid of fireworks.

In early July, the adoption stars aligned, and Jennifer and Finn welcomed Bella into their home. Jen decided to rename her Mishka, “it means “sweetheart,” “little bear” or “little white bear” or “Gift from God” in many languages). [photo] She is settling in marvelously: She’s playful, agreeable, very affectionate, and gorgeous. It took her 3-4 days to decide I was safe enough she could sleep on my bed. She snuggles into my underarm, on my shoulder or on top of my head on my pillow every night touching my face with her polar bear paws. She seems a little leary of taking in all the views from our little apartment as if she’s agoraphobic (she looks surprised when she sees people, cars, dogs or hears birds in the park across the street). She’s very content sleeping on the sofa or my bed. We adore her!”

Reflecting on the joy that all of their cats have brought to their family and what they’ve taught Finn—unconditional love, empathy, and caring for a living being–Jennifer decided to make a donation to the Friends of SFACC, in gratitude for the ongoing work of the shelter staff and volunteers. “Mostly, I want to give back to the city agency and its legion of caring volunteers. They’ve given so much to me and my family, and adopting from SFACC for nearly 20 years has been an incredibly positive experience. They’ve saved the lives of countless animals─and that takes money.” ACC provides many services the many residents are unaware of, including temporary shelter for pets of domestic violence survivors. “Having been in two relationships marked by domestic violence, I know pets can be in immediate danger as a means to maintain dominance and control through fear. It’s hard enough to flee especially when you’re afraid to leave your pets behind.”

Jennifer’s gift will help continue the programs that guide adoptable animals to their forever families. We’re so grateful for her generosity and for sharing her story.

Four Cats and a Boy Named Finn