Once Upon a Time… Dorothea and Mats Bernesjo were looking for a new cat. The couple had been married for about four years, and had recently lost their cat, Claire, to lung cancer. “I had a cat when my husband met me,” Dorothea Bernesjo says. “I told him, I’d like to get another cat, but it’s up to you, because I already had one when you came into this marriage.” Mats agreed, and they started the search for a new pet.

They visited Animal House Fund, which had come up in their preliminary Internet searches, and were excited to find that it was exclusive to cats. “I thought it was just spectacular because of the way it was set up—you’re able to interact with the cats as you’re choosing one.” The Bernesjos grew fond of one particular cat, called Winona, and took her to a separate room to see how she would interact with them. “For some reason she was just too fascinated with that space, which she had never been in, and she was more into that than us,” Bernesjo says. A little disheartened, they decided to call it a day and come back another time.

When they returned, Dorothea was browsing the room when she noticed Mats seemed to be getting along with one cat in particular. “She was rubbing his hand, and licking him to pieces,” she recalls. “I went over to say hi--and it was Winona, the cat who had thought we were nothing!” They realized that despite the initial interaction, this really was the cat for them, and decided on the spot to name her Kisse. The name, which is Swedish for ‘kitty,’ turned out to be a big hit with Mats’ family back home in Sweden.

The staff at Animal House delivered Kisse to their Hortense Place home, and the Bernesjos have grown to love their new kitty. “She’s so sweet, so friendly and so loving,” Bernesjo says. “My grief from my other cat is practically gone because of her.” Even Mats, who didn’t grow up with pets, is converted, she says. “He calls her ‘the new model with more features—all the bells and whistles.’ ” Kisse is highly social, belying the common stereotype about aloof cats, Bernesjo says. “If I’m in one room, she’s always there, or I can at least see her in the hallway,” she says. “She even sleeps with us—I’ve never had a cat sleep with me. When cats are asleep, they’re the most vulnerable, so it’s a great sign of affection.”

Kisse also has a few other behaviors that had even the veteran cat owner scratching her head. The couple kept coming home to find their two plush toys—a minion from Despicable Me and a Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc.—in the middle of the carpet. “We couldn’t figure out why, and I talked to some people who told me, She’s bringing you her prizes. It’s like when they kill something and bring it to the owner to show them. She doesn’t have anything to kill, so this is her prize. Now, when she brings us the toys, we always give her praise. I even sent Animal House a picture of her holding Minion in her paws with a caption saying she’s a good provider.”

For Your Own Fairy-Tail Ending…

Animal House Fund

2151 59th Street, St. Louis, Mo., 63110

531-4626 or animalhousefund.org, volunteer@animalhousefund.org

Adoption Days: Wednesday, 1 to 7 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., or by appointment

Proudly sponsored by Carol House Furniture

With their belief that bigger things can come out of selling furniture, Carol House and the Dubmans proudly donate a portion of each sale to local charities. One of the organizations the company supports is its very own Carol House QUICK FIX Pet Clinic, which spays and neuters pets for low-income families. For more information, call 771-PETS or visit CarolHousePetClinic.org.

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