Those of you who know me personally, know that I can be impulsive and when I get an idea in my head, I move fast. Over the holidays I signed up for a cat-sitting website, and stumbled on the website of the Berliner Tierheim, the animal shelter. Scrolling through the list of problematic cats up for adoption, I stopped the moment I saw her.

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Kessy ©MTHerzog

Kessy is a 15-year-old Persian, given up at the shelter last October because the owners could no longer care for her. She is a special case not just because of her age, but because she has a kidney sickness and is anaemic. When I called to inquire about her, the caregiver explained Kessy’s condition in detail and said that she basically needs a caring, loving home to spend the last days of her life. It could be a matter of four weeks or four months, and it depends on how she reacts to the new environment. And to Champagne, the current Persian queen of the house.

Kessy is a terminal case, and as such, I wasn’t even charged the full adoption fees. Everyone has given up on her, except the caregiver and myself. I drove all the way out to the animal shelter, and was stunned by the vast land and fantastic set-up they have. The architects thought more in practical terms and not aesthetics, that much is clear, and they will probably never win a beauty contest, but it is one of the most humane animal shelters I have ever visited.

When you first arrive at the Tierheim, you wonder whether you took a wrong turn and landed in one of the WWII bunkers instead. The only indications that you are in the right place are the various signs, but once you step into the campus, the eerie bunker fades instantly and the peaceful zen-like atmosphere embraces the visitors.

I was sent to the quarantine section to meet Kessy, and it was love at first sight. She took one look at me and stood up on her wobbly legs to greet me, as if sensing that this was her redemption. After stroking her through the bars, I asked permission to pet her with an open door. Kessy bumped my hand, asking for more affection, which I readily gave. It wasn’t long before I picked her up for a cuddle so she could feel my warmth. The little old granny cat started purring happily and the broadest of smiles came over the caregiver.

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Sorrowful Days ©MTHerzog

I paid a visit to the Garfield House, where the regular cats up for adoption are housed, before crossing over to the dogs. My heart broke when I stepped in there. The place is immaculate and pristine, but the dogs are so desperate for homes that they do their best to show off. This little French Bulldog, however, moved me to tears as he howled sorrowfully out at the window.

Kessy comes home next week. So stay tuned for further stories. Click HERE for the article with the full set of photographs.