Happily Ever After

Once upon a time, Lael Cunningham wanted a cat. She really wanted a cat. She tried to convince her mom, Janel Cunningham, that she was ready to take care of one, so she drew up a contract of all the things she would do to take care of one. Last Christmas, Lael Cunningham’s gift was her contract back – notarized and signed by her mom.

Janel Cunningham says that her 11-year-old daughter was very specific about what she wanted in her cat, so the pair took to the internet to find the perfect furry friend. There, they found pictures of a kitten named Coco Puff, who was available from St. Louis Pet Rescue.

Former foster mom Lisa Ucko says that Coco Puff was orphaned at a very young age and required bottle feeding. She and her littermates, Cheerio and Cap’n Crunch, were found in a south St. Louis yard.

“Coco Puff really struggled,” Ucko says. “We really thought she was going to be miniature forever, and she was plagued by parasites. With around-the-clock care, Coco Puff was able to overcome her rough start and thrive.”

The Cunninghams have had Coco Puff for almost a year. She was renamed Lady Sybil, after Lael Cunningham’s favorite Downton Abbey character.

Janel Cunningham says Lady Sybil is “cuddly, but only when she wants to be” and is very playful. She loves to play fetch with plastic shower curtain rings.

“She’s pretty puppylike because she’ll follow you from room to room,” Janel Cunningham says. “She’s an excellent first pet.”

When Lael Cunningham gets home from school every day, she does all the things she agreed to do in her contract in order to take care of Lady Sybil. Janel Cunningham says the cat allows her daughter to be more playful, and they even do dance moves together.

One of Lady Sybil’s funny habits is her behavior when someone either leaves or comes home. Janel Cunningham says the cat will come “tearing down the hallway” to the garage door and run up into her cat tree.

“At first, we were worried about her getting out into the garage, but that’s not her objective,” she says. “She just wants to watch you come and go.”

Lael Cunningham loves to snuggle with her cat, and the two will curl up while she is watching TV or reading.

Janel Cunningham works shift work, so she likes being able to come home to an animal when her daughter is at her grandparents’.

“I don’t feel the same kind of loneliness I did before,” she says. “[Lady Sybil] is always waiting at the door.”

St. Louis Pet Rescue, stlpetrescue.com, contact@stlpetrescue.com

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 314-771-PETS or visit CarolHousePetClinic.org.

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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.