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christmas kitten

Feb 2, 2020

A Christmas Kitten

Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine

Photography By

Most of us know what it feels like to fall in love with a special pet. For seven-year-old Katie Ferguson, that intrinsic connection between human and animal was found at Palmetto Animal League (PAL) three weeks before Christmas. Fast forward to December 25 and imagine Katie’s overwhelming joy when her family discovered a letter under Santa’s cookie plate, explaining his gift of a Christmas kitten!

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When Katie was just five years old and in kindergarten, her parents started bringing her to PAL to visit the shelter cats patiently waiting for a home of their own.

“After visiting once, it became a weekly thing that Katie looked forward to,” Jenny Ferguson, Katie’s mom said. “Visiting the adoption center brings such joy to both of my daughters. They just love playing with and cuddling the kittens and cats. It’s fun for the girls and good for the animals—a win, win!”

It was during one of these visits to the PAL Adoption Center, on December 5, 2019, that Katie found her soulmate.

“Katie instantly fell in love with Garnet,” Ferguson said. “Garnet would jump into her lap and purr. After that day, we made several trips back to visit all the kitties, but especially Garnet. Katie talked about Garnet often and how she was ‘the one.’”

Katie had been longing for a kitten of her own for quite some time. You see, on Christmas morning, one year prior, Katie had hoped to receive a kitten. She had placed a box carefully beneath the tree with a kitten toy inside that she had made from garland with a sticky note on top that read, “You can put the kitten here.” But, as we’ve all learned in life at one time or another, Santa doesn’t always grant Christmas wishes on our preferred timeline. No, he has a special way of knowing when it’s the perfect time to bestow upon us that perfect present—that one special gift that leaves a precious memory in your heart and has a meaningful impact on your childhood.

Little did Katie know back then that Santa had a better plan—one that would fill her heart with more wonder and joy on Christmas Day than she could have ever imagined.

“Peppermint Sticks, Katie’s elf, told Santa about Garnet,” Ferguson explained. “And Santa worked it out with the staff at PAL to have Katie pick up Garnet on Christmas day!”

Remember that letter the Ferguson’s found under Santa’s cookie plate on Christmas Day? Well, maybe you should hear it straight from Santa himself:

Dear Katie,
This year, Peppermint Sticks said that he really thought you were ready for that big gift you had been wanting for over a year now. He said that you had been visiting a very special friend after school and on the weekends when your mom or Peepop could get you by to see her. Peppermint Sticks told me her name was Garnet. I spoke with the workers at PAL and made all the arrangements for you to pick up Garnet and bring her back home with you. I trust and know that you will take good care of her. She will need lots of love, and you are the very best person that I know can give her that. Just remember, you have to feed her, clean her litter box and most of all, give her love.
Merry Christmas,
Santa Claus

As with most Christmas miracles, this one was received with the purest of happiness and wonderment that only a child can truly experience. And a few hours after receiving this letter from Santa on Christmas Day, Katie went to PAL and brought home her best friend.

People often ask us at the PAL Adoption Center if gifting a pet is a good idea. Christmastime, Valentine’s Day, a birthday—these are all great times to bring a new pet home for children, parents or another loved one. However, you still need to consider all the things that come along with adopting a pet no matter the time of year.

Katie instantly fell in love with Garnet

Katie instantly fell in love with Garnet

“If this is something parents want to do for their children, think about how much time you have to care for a new pet,” PAL president, Amy Campanini recommends. “Is a cat better than a dog if you’re not home for 10 to 12 hours out of the day? How much participation do you think the family will all take in caring for that pet?”

Studies show that when people give the gift of a pet around the holidays, the return rates aren’t any different than regular adoption rates. Still, surprises aren’t always welcome, so at PAL we ask people to deeply consider using fun, creative ways to help bring a cat or dog home where it can be a special experience for the whole family.

“We encourage people to come in and get a gift certificate so the recipient can choose a pet of their own,” Campanini explained. “We recommend maybe putting a stuffed animal in a box along with our gift certificate so then your loved one can spend time at our adoption center finding a pet they really connect with.”

Our adoption counselors at Palmetto Animal League spend a lot of time asking individuals about their lifestyle so we can match people with the perfect pet. For Katie, that perfect pet was Garnet, and lucky for both girl and kitten, Santa was watching.

“I think it’s important to let the children be part of the adoption process,” Ferguson said. “Not only was it evident that Katie chose Garnet. It was also evident that Garnet chose Katie. I can’t put into words how happy it makes me feel to see them together. Garnet has slept in Katie’s bed every night since Christmas.”

And while Christmas may be over, the magic of the holiday season is still alive and well in the Ferguson home—all thanks to Santa’s creative plan for giving Katie the gift of a Christmas kitten.

At PAL, we understand that not everyone is able to adopt, and that’s okay! There are many ways to help homeless pets by supporting our no-kill rescue programs. We’re currently preparing to receive dozens of litters of spring kittens, and we need your help to give them the start they deserve. To shower these precious bundles of joy with all the essentials, visit and click on our “Kitten Care Wish List” where you can send supplies directly to PAL via Amazon. Your special gift will help kittens grow healthy and strong as they prepare for adoption.

With your support, PAL can rescue more animals than ever before this year and help them find their soulmate, just like Garnet found Katie. We vow to fight even harder to give homeless pets a voice and a second chance at life because, at the heart of everything we do at Palmetto Animal League, there is this one elemental truth: These are “Lives Worth Saving.”.

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