Martha to Mocha: A tale of transformation and love

Trust comes slowly for the neglected or mistreated.

Martha, a semi-feral cat, came to Sanctuary One in the summer of 2016. It was clear from the beginning that this small, cream-colored tabby had remarkable capacity for love: she LOVED other cats! She fell particularly hard for handsome BB and spent hours curled up with him and following him wherever he went.

However, people were another story.

Hiding in the cat tree, trying to stay away from people

When staff and volunteers entered the room, Martha would stiffen and her pupils would dilate in fear. She’d flinch when someone reached for her and sometimes lash out, an indication that she had been mistreated in her past. Over time, she allowed a few volunteers to run a hand down her back. Her criteria? Really long arms – she’d come within only a couple of feet of them before retreating. One of those arms belonged to volunteer, Vicki.

In mid-October, after more than a year at Sanctuary One, Martha went home with Vicki. Reinvented as Mocha (after her rich coloring), she hid in a closet for two weeks – too frightened to join the family. Vicki spent time each day sitting by Mocha’s hiding place, reading aloud and listening to music. Vicki’s two older cats, Lily and Iris, would also try to will Mocha into coming out so they could give her the sniff test – but, Mocha wasn’t falling for it.

Ever so slowly, Mocha emerged for short periods of time. She became less tense and her eyes lost their look of fear. She began to purr and talk in quiet little squeaks. Now after three months, she sleeps on Vicki’s bed, greets her in the morning with purrs and head butts, and watches TV with the family.

At home with Vicki, Mocha learned to relax

“You learn so much from animals, particularly those with backgrounds like Mocha’s,” Vicki says. “Patience. Understanding. Compassion. It’s an incredible experience to watch trust grow and to be rewarded with such love.”

Sanctuary One strives to find safe, loving homes to rescued farm animals and domesticated pets throughout the United States. Our animals all come to us from other qualified rescues and shelters, where they may have had difficulty being adopted. Our organization would not be what it is today if not for stories much like Vicki’s. Unleashing Mocha’s capacity to love is not only benefiting Mocha, but the transformative experience has unquestionable positively impacted Vicki as well.

At Sanctuary One we focus on the idea that together, people, animals, and the earth, we are better.  Through our people, our volunteers, and animals working together, wonderful things are possible.

Interested in helping our animals? Visit for different ways you can support us in our mission.

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