NEW YORK - In the chaotic weeks after Superstorm Sandy, nearly 300 stray and displaced pets hunkered down at an emergency shelter set up in a Brooklyn warehouse by the ASPCA.
Over time, many were reunited with their owners. Others were adopted.
Now there's just one left: a little white kitten named Joy. The ASPCA is hoping someone will come forward and offer her a home.
Joy was probably around six months old when she was found wandering the streets of Brooklyn's waterlogged Gravesend section just days after the storm, the advocacy group said.
Her history wasn't entirely clear. Was she feral, or someone's pet? Nobody was sure. No owner came forward. But she wasn't in great physical shape and also seemed traumatized. She hissed and hid when people approached.
"She was a skinny little thing when she came in here," said Jesse Oldham, who has been caring for the cat in her small office at the ASPCA since February, when the emergency shelter closed. "You couldn't get near her for the first month."
Nursing Joy back to physical health and making her comfortable around humans again became a labor of love for the agency's staff. Oldham said she fed her with a spoon, set up "play dates" with human companions and eventually lured her into her lap with dried codfish treats.
Joy looked healthy and energetic as she romped around Oldham's office Friday. The small workspace is jammed with a litter box, food and water bowls, a cat carrier, two giant scratching posts and several cat toys, in addition to the usual assortment of office furniture and supplies.
The ASPCA put Joy up for adoption in May, but since she's been living in the office, rather than at the adoption center, there haven't been any takers so far.
"She's still a little bit skittish, but she's really, really sweet," Oldham said. "She's super playful."
The ASPCA's shelter for animals displaced by Sandy was funded with a $500,000 grant from television personality Rachael Ray. In addition to strays, it housed a number of animals whose owners had been made homeless by the storm, and hadn't immediately found a place to stay that would accept pets.
The ASPCA's shelter was one of a number set up around the region to take in animals displaced by the storm. More than 200 pets were given shelter at a community college gymnasium on Long Island, set up by the North Shore Animal League America. The Humane Society rescued pets stranded on New Jersey's barrier islands.
Anyone interested in adopting Joy should call the ASPCA Adoption Center at 212-876-7700 ext. 4900, or visit Joy's adoption page on the web.