A Tribute to Josie

At Our Companions, Josie’s story began with us six years ago when she was trapped as part of a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) project in New Britain. Someone was trapping community cats, getting them spayed/neutered, and returning them back to their outdoor home. Upon trapping Josie and bringing her to be spayed, she was given an exam and was found to be in rough, physical condition. She had injuries from living outside, hocked hind legs causing mobility issues, partial deafness, and chronic sinus issues. Give her state, the vet contacted Our Companions to help provide a safer, more supportive environment for her than giving her slim chance of surviving back outside. Hearing of her situation, Josie was welcomed to our Sanctuary in March of 2017.

Josie was estimated to be around 7 or 8 years old and it was very clear she was never socialized with humans, or wanted anything to do with people at all. She would often hide or run when people were near her comfortable bubble. Though, like any survivor, she adapted well and got comfortable little by little our cat cottages with many comfy places to hide, yummy meals, and people who respected her boundaries. Over the years, Josie became accustomed to the routine, her new feline friends, and all the staff and volunteer fans. One of the very first things you learn working with the cats at the Sanctuary- who is Josie and to always admire her from afar. Given she was partially deaf, when Josie would nap, she sometimes didn’t hear you enter the social room in Sebastian House, which allowed us to see her sweet, sleeping face all curled up. Josie became a piece of art in a museum- you can look, but you can’t touch. Looking at her would make you feel more curious to know her more; what she might be thinking, fascinated by her journey, and happy for her that she has found a place to call home.

Though Josie wasn’t too keen on human relationships or handling, we still wanted to give her the opportunity to potentially be in a home or in an enclosed barn where she could still be safe away from the dangers of the outside world. Her needs were quite simple and if someone was looking to care for a cat that just wanted to cohabitate with you, Josie would be great for that! All she loved was a good meal, a warm place to sleep, and a safe place where her boundaries would be respected.

As time went on, Josie made lots of feline friends with her cat roommates and they all cohabitated amongst each other. One roommate in particular was a cat named Ralph. As some of you know, Ralph can be quite exuberant and has a full of life personality! It was quite funny to see how much quiet, reserved Josie took a liking to Ralph- following him around like a little schoolgirl crush! Unfortunately, Ralph wasn’t too sure why Josie would follow him or be close to him all the time. It was a short, but still very sweet, time in Josie’s life where she actually sought out friendship and companionship.

After Ralph, a new cat roomie entered Josie’s circle- Elsie! Like Josie, Elsie was a quiet, senior kitty that loved sleeping the day away. However, Elsie enjoyed gentle pets and sleeping on laps of her human friends. These golden gals slowly started hitting it off, sleeping on the same couch and then the same bed. Where one was, the other was close by. It was so endearing to watch Josie’s edges soften and there would be the occasional “slow blink”, showing she felt safe with us.

Over these years, Josie constantly battled with sinus issues and needed medication at times. You could hear her snoring from across the room, though you didn’t know what hiding spot she was comfortably slumbering. The medication would help alleviate some on the mucus, though sometimes she needed a deep nasal cleaning by the vet. Recently, the Cat Team was noticing her chronic sinus issues coming back again and medical intervention didn’t seem to be helping this time. She started to have labored breathing and some loss of muscle in her hind legs, causing increased mobility issues. As soon as the symptoms seemed to appear, her health started to drastically decline. While all of this is happening, Elsie got adopted to one of our very own volunteers that she had bonded with and loved. Now at 13 or 14 years old, Josie’s physical health started to deteriorate drastically and we made the difficult decision to help her pass.

Lindsey, our Feline Team Assistant Manager, wrote this beautiful message to our Sanctuary cat volunteers and Cat Team, “Josie’s presence was a testament to the Sanctuary’s purpose: to provide a safe haven for cats who may not have anywhere else to turn. While we may not have been able to form the close bonds with Josie that we have with other cats, she was a living reminder of our mission to be a safety net for cats like her.” She continues to say, “Your dedication to our cats, regardless of their unique circumstances, has made a profound difference in all of their lives. Your care and commitment have ensured that cats like Josie find comfort, companionship, and understanding in their twilight years. Thank you for being a part of Josie’s journey and for your continued dedication to all our cats.”

And to a testament of how loved and adored Josie was, Lindsey received these heartwarming messages:

 Nancy: Your notice about Josie was so absolutely spot on. She was here when I first started volunteering at the sanctuary, and I really didn’t even SEE her for probably over a year or more. And then she gradually moved out into the open and made friends (of a sort) with other cats. What a transformation. Sebastian House basement is a truly magical place. As I was reading your note, I thought about the other older cats who lived out their days being loved and safe, like Carl, Merlin, Clementine, Mikey, Simon and Cosmo (and I know there have been more), who found a place to spend the rest of their days being safe and loved, before heading out over the rainbow bridge. And some of the older cats, like Hedwig even found a new home to live in before taking their leave. Our Companions is a sanctuary in every sense of the word. I feel so lucky to have found it, and all the staff and other volunteers, and of course, all the marvelous cats I get to pet and play with every week. Every minute I spend there is worth a million.

Kara: Josie— I may have never held her, but I loved that cat! She was fierce in her desire to stay away from humans, but her love for other cats was so heartwarming. She was the mascot of SH. I will miss her so much 😭

Jenn: I’m so sad. I sat down last Thursday and had a conversation with her about how great she was and how much i loved her. Hay and I will truly miss her. She was a very special girl who made everyone feel welcome in her home (as long as they were a cat). The sanctuary was the perfect place for her and she loved living there especially the times when the living room was full of her friends. May she rest in peace.

Joanna: I’m very sorry about Josie. I saw her on Tuesday and I felt like she stared straight at me, so I told her goodbye. The good deed the shelter did in giving her a loving forever home, and all the care she needed, is beyond words. ♥️

Clyde: Josie was very sweet. I remember seeing her at times near Elsie. I am glad she got to spend time here with people that love cats and other cats. I recall her snoring at times. She will be missed.

Sheila: So sorry to hear about Josie. She was one special little cat. Her time here was “unique” as you stated. The love that little girl gave us just filled out hearts. We are all so use to making physical contact with the felines at the sanctuary whether it be right away or within their own time letting them know they can trust again. But Josie showed us another way…her way. She knew she was loved because she saw we respected her space. A very special cat indeed.

Sharon: Bless you and all that are there for giving these wonderful creatures a beautiful passing. ♥️

Allison: Josie is the last of the OG cats from when I started volunteering almost 5 years ago. I’m so happy I saw her yesterday. Josie taught me that love languages are truly different for every being. She didn’t express her love with head butts, asking for petting, or lap giving snuggles. But she had a love language all her own. She slept soundly near her human companions, she sang songs for the Tuck In crew, she gave you a polite stare before walking away instead of a growl or hiss. She taught me about acceptance and tolerance and patience. She also taught me that despite challenges, sometimes you just go get ‘em (talking about her Ralph stalking). SH will never be the same but that’s okay. It shouldn’t be because Josie was special. Thank you for your words, for sharing, and for doing so with love and sensitivity. 💜💜❤️❤️

Dan: So sorry to hear of Josie’s passing, as she was definitely one of my absolute favorites. Despite her stand-off-ish nature, she usually seemed relatively relaxed and confident around me, which made me feel almost as special as she was. Whenever she’d allow me into her room to sit with her without fleeing, whenever she’d slowly saunter past on the way to her food dish and have a bite to eat with her back to me, or whenever she’d watch me from across the room and then drift off to sleep it really warmed my heart, and although I knew deep down that she would never leave OC in this life, it was always such a comfort to know that she’d be loved and cared for for the rest of her days. Sebastian House will never be the same without her, of that I’m certain, but she’ll live on in our hearts and memories for as long as we have them. Au revoir ma chère, until we meet again…

Melissa: This is so sad, typing this through tears. I knew it was her time last time I saw her. I will miss her so much. Sebastian downstairs was hers! When she moved into the family room – it was the best! She became less afraid of humans it seemed and we could be around her with out her running off. I laugh to myself thinking how she was a tease – I could get so close to her but no touching! Josie was so lucky to have fallen into the OC! The OC gave her a second chance at life. And boy did she have the best life possible! ‘

Silvia: Poor little girl. I remember she never aloud me to get near to her. She seemed sweet and shy at the time. One thing is for sure she had the best years of her life at OC. Now she is resting and happy.

Sandra: My heart is so sad. I am trying to fight the tears before I start my drive home from work. I know I am one of the newbies doing Tuck-in, but in such a short time i became in love with every single cat there. Everyone even captain with his eccentric ways. What a beautiful email Lindsey. Josie will be missed Terri but she has the best care and love a kitty like her could dream of. And Elsie found her forever home. Omg nope, can’t do it. Here come the tears. So glad to be part of such amazing organization. Can’t imagine my life without it anymore. Thank you.

Lynne: What a beautiful tribute to Josie. Everyone definitely gave her that safe space to finish out her life on this earth. 💕

April: Of course this a sad time for all of us to lose Josie. She was a special old lady that lived her remaining years on her terms. While she wasn’t a cuddler, she knew she was safe and warm. She will look down on all of us and one day she will send a sign saying “thank you”. Thank you, everyone at OC for making a difference for all of the cats, past and present.

Karen: We are so very sorry to hear of sweet Josie’s passing over the rainbow bridge! We are however relieved she is at peace now in her second forever home. We are proud to have the opportunity to volunteer at a place that treats all with such care, love and respect…….Honoring each as an individual worthy of love and dignity.


  1. Denise on September 13, 2023 at 11:07 am

    Reading this beautiful story brought tears to my eyes. Josie reminds me of my Christie, a rescue who lived in my home for 14 1/2 years (yes, years) before she decided that humans can be lovable. I cherished the last four years of her life when we were finally bonded. As your story makes clear, we need to accept each cat for the individual that he or she is and respect their boundaries as we do what we can to make them happy. Thank God for Our Companions and all that you do for our fellow inhabitants of the planet.

    • Heather Wildman on September 13, 2023 at 11:33 am

      Thank you for your kind words and sharing your story about Christie!

      • Elizabeth DeGroat & Stuart Simon on September 14, 2023 at 8:14 am

        Just want all of you to know how valued you are by those of us outside your beautiful community. You need to know that what you do for those animals in your care impacts those who are looking on in ways that you can’t begin to imagine.
        Thank you from the bottom of all our hearts!!

        • Heather Wildman on September 19, 2023 at 3:37 pm

          Thank you so very much, Elizabeth and Stuart! Our team truly appreciates your sweet words and thanks! Wishing you both all the best!