Thanks to efforts from SPCA International's Operation Baghdad Pups, Sgt. Tango and her inspirational little furball Cathulhu continue to overcome obstacles together.

Military personnel stationed overseas and away from loved ones deserve all the extra joy they can possibly get. What's even better is when that boost arrives in the form of four paws, two fuzzy ears, and one highly-active purr motor. 

When Florida National Guard Sergeant Arielle Tango of Palm Bay, Fla. was stationed in Marijampole, Lithuania, earlier this fall, she received an unexpected visitor. A tiny terrified kitten, emaciated and ill, ran into her barracks at about 1:30 a.m. As a family nurse practitioner and combat medic, Tango knew exactly what to do: get the wee kitten hydrated, fed, and warm as soon as possible. "That night, she slept curled up against my neck inside of my shirt," Tango tells Daily Paws. The two quickly bonded. 

However, while Tango was away later, the kitty slipped out through an open window. Tango says she was devastated and had no way to find her. Fortunately, the promise between them couldn't be broken—while mopping up the barracks the next day, Tango says she heard a slight mewl. "I thought I imagined it, but when I looked outside, the tiny furball had returned," she adds. "She was scared and wouldn't let anyone but me approach her." 

Kitty, Cathulhu, held by Sgt. Arielle for the SPCA International Military Kitty rescue
Credit: Courtesy of SPCA International

Under Tango's dedicated care the rescue, now named Cathulhu, regained her health, evolving into a spunky, healthy kitten who loves to play. "She quickly became known as 'therapy cat'," Tango says. "Anytime someone was upset, she would climb on their shoulders like a parrot and give them kisses and cuddles until they felt better, all while purring up a storm."

Tango says this little healing bit of fluff couldn't have come at a better time. 

"During my time in Europe, I developed a passion for climbing and hiking. The idea of overcoming the insurmountable had become a central theme to process some of the difficult things I was dealing with in my life," she says. "Cathulhu had to overcome a lot herself too, as she … had to fight to get back to health." There was no way Tango would leave this sweet kitty behind when her deployment ended in October.

Fortunately, SPCA International's Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide was able to navigate the logistics to transport 6-month-old Cathulhu to Tango's Florida home. Dedicated to helping service members' patriot pets, the global rescue organization assists American military personnel with pet companions they form bonds with overseas. 

Emma Kronish is the director of marketing and communications at SPCA International. Although 'pups' in the operation's title might suggest otherwise, she says the nonprofit facilitates successful reunions for both dogs and cats: roughly 72 percent dogs and 28 percent cats. Usually, it's fairly easy to get kitties stateside. 

"There are standard import requirements, like rabies vaccinations, that the cats must meet before they can travel to the U.S.," Kronish says. "There's no quarantine period for cats upon entry into the U.S. Once they've arrived at their port of entry, we give them a day to rest before they continue onto their final destination within the U.S."

For the formerly homeless Cathulhu, that's back into the crook of Tango's neck, purr machine on high. We love happy endings!