You might not know it from the look on Mackenzie's face, but when the 15-year-old cat met Santa, it was one of the best days of her life.
"She has resting grumpy face," Angela Rasuse, Mackenzie's mom told. "She can be the happiest cat in the world — like, thriving and having the best time, and she just has this grumpy look on her face."
Mackenzie originally belonged to Rasuse's grandparents, but when Rasuse's grandfather passed away in 2019, the cat found herself with nowhere to go. Rasuse took Mackenzie in, but it took a while for the grumpy cat to get used to her new mom.
And she wasn't afraid to let Rasuse know exactly how she felt about it.
Then, Rasuse made an impulse purchase online that changed everything — a little harness and leash for Mackenzie. "It showed up and I put it on her, and she became a totally different cat," Rasuse said. "She loves being in the backyard and playing around. And, maybe like a month later, I took her to our cottage and we were playing on the beach and she absolutely loved it."
"It was the weirdest thing in the world. Here's this grumpy, murdery cat, but the second you put a harness on her she becomes an adventure cat,” she added.
Soon, Mackenzie was going everywhere with her mom. And one of the cat's favorite places to visit was the local pet store. Rasuse thought Mackenzie couldn't love the pet store any more than she already did, and then they invited her to meet Santa.
Every Saturday leading up to Christmas, the Pet Valu store in Nova Scotia, Canada, hosts a fundraiser for their local food bank. Pets meet and take pictures with Santa for free as long as their humans bring nonperishable food donations.
Rasuse wasn't sure how Mackenzie would react to meeting a strange man with a large white beard and a fuzzy red suit. But once Mackenzie sat on Santa's lap, she didn't want to leave.
"She trotted in like she owned the place and waited in line with all the other dogs," Rasuse said. "I put her beside Santa and she growled, because she didn't know what was going on. But then she played with the ball on Santa's hat, she sat in his lap."
"The funniest part was when we were like, 'OK Mackenzie, you've had your turn. We've got the pictures, it's time for the next animal,'” Rasuse said. "She hissed at me when I tried to take her away from Santa. I don't know if Santa reminded her of my grandfather or what, but she absolutely loved Santa.”
Seeing how Mackenzie thrived when given a second chance inspired Rasuse to create a non-profit called My Grandfather's Cat, which helps seniors arrange homes for their pets before they pass away or move into retirement homes. So far, the organization has placed 24 pets in loving homes in just six months.
"We didn't reinvent the wheel," Rasuse said. "It's just people helping people find homes for their animals so they don't wind up in shelters — and it works."
This holiday season, Rasuse hopes that more people will open their hearts and homes to shelter animals in need. And she's definitely going to take Mackenzie back to see Santa again.
"She was just looking up at Santa in awe, like 'who are you,'” Rasuse said. "It was definitely a proud mama moment."
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