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Once upon a time, two kitties were born with birth defects that didn’t allow for one of their back legs to develop correctly. With big, expressive eyes and sturdy, fluffy bodies, they were beautiful, but it would be a long journey ahead to find forever homes that would love them despite their flaws.

Melista Falconnier had always loved cats. When a friend suggested she start volunteering for Animal House Cat Rescue and Adoption Center, she jumped at the chance and began going every Thursday.

“You end up falling in love with all of them,” Falconnier admits.

She had always considered adopting a cat with special needs and ended up falling head over heels for a pair of three-legged fur babies. Ross and Cami had come from less-than-ideal conditions at an informal breeder’s home. From that hoarding situation, 22 cats were removed and placed at Animal House in hopes of a brighter future. Falconnier watched the rest of the big group get adopted one by one, leaving Ross and Cami.

“I went to go see my mom, and I told myself that if they were still there when I got back, I’d adopt them,” she says. And they were, almost as if they were waiting.

Falconnier brought Ross and Cami (now named Googie and Pearl) home in December. The 2-year-old cats have kept her entertained ever since, amusing her with their playfulness and energy, despite having only six legs between the two of them.

“I was surprised how active they are with their legs,” Falconnier says. “They want to play and chase each other. They just tire out quicker.”

Pearl still has a fairly shy temperament, and Googie loves to talk. They’ve both come out of their shells quite a bit, Falconnier says, and are obsessed with chasing laser pointer dots and batting balls around. Googie in particular will vie for Falconnier’s attention, particularly when she’s talking on the phone.

“He’s so vocal,” she says. “If I’m on the phone for too long, he’ll let me know it’s time for me to pay attention to him.”

Falconnier speaks highly of Animal House and gives its staff credit for working with the cats so they can go to their forever families.

“They really get to know [the cats’] personalities and help them evolve,” she says. “They put so much time and effort into matching them with a family.”

As for her own two, Falconnier says Pearl and Googie have completely melted her heart.

“I love animals,” she says. “They keep you present and in the moment. No matter what your day is like, they’re always happy to see you.”

FOR YOUR OWN FAIRY-TAIL ENDING …

Animal House Cat Rescue and Adoption Center

2151 59th St., St. Louis

314-531-4626, stlcats.org

Robyn is LN's digital editor and a staff writer. Proud alumna of Notre Dame High School in St. Louis and Eastern Illinois University. Avid coffee drinker, dog lover, concertgoer and word nerd.