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A Feline Superstar's Journey Home: From Velcro to Romeo

Rescued from a hoarder, an affectionate cat's big hugs earn him a new home and a new name

All Animals magazine

  • Nearly 700 cats were rescued from a Florida hoarder in June 2011.  Julie Busch Branaman

  • Velcro was one of them.  Julie Busch Branaman

  • This is how Velcro earned his name at the temporary shelter.  James Branaman

  • Velcro, now Romeo, loves his new home.  Julie Busch Branaman

  • And he loves his new mom.  Julie Busch Branaman

  • Romeo keeps cat toys in their proper place.  Julie Busch Branaman

  • He basks in the Florida sun.  Julie Busch Branaman

  • "I look good in lace!" Julie Busch Branaman

by Michael Sharp

Every time the door would swing open, Velcro would come running.
Removed from an unforgettable hoarding situation in Florida last June, the cat with the huge heart and lasting embrace transitioned naturally into his next chapter: unofficial host of the All Cats HealthCare Clinic in Gainesville. “He would run to the front door to greet people and then follow them to where they would sit down and immediately hop up in their lap,” veterinarian Patti Gordon says. “So he was a fan favorite.”

All told, The HSUS helped rescue 697 cats from the sanctuary-gone-horribly-wrong. More than 250 of them found fresh starts over a three-day adoption event in August, and by late October, every treatable, adoptable cat had either found a new home or been placed with a sanctuary, shelter, or rescue group—thanks in part to The HSUS’s network of Emergency Placement Partners, plus funding for smaller groups to promote adoption events.

Just before the holidays, Velcro found a new home as well, with Gainesville realtor Darlene Pifalo, who has since renamed her charming companion. Romeo now wakes her up in the morning with a kiss on the cheek, and every time Pifalo comes home, he is—of course—the first cat to greet her.

“He just enjoys life,” she says. “He’s got such a great personality, compared to what he probably went through. It’s amazing. … He’s been a blessing.” 

Watch a video of the rescue. »

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