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How the Universal Search Engine Found a Home for Boo Boo Kitty

By Carol Novello, Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) President, May 2014

Google is a great place to find answers. Type in a few words. Voila! A virtual smorgasbord of possibilities. That’s just one of the ways we’ve come to rely on technology in our daily lives.

But sometimes life delivers a problem where Google doesn’t have the answer. In those situations, it’s tempting to jump to the conclusion that an answer does not exist. That’s when a leap of faith is required. Sometimes algorithms are no substitute for the power of collaboration, commitment, and coincidence to solve a problem.

Boo Boo Kitty, one of our animal guests, is a case in point. The kind of animal guest where you wonder who the heck is going to adopt her. Profile: 14 years old, owner deceased, a bit chubby, AND early stage kidney disease. You can’t help but think, “Where on earth are we going to find someone to adopt this cat???”

Nonetheless, we do our part for Boo Boo Kitty. She becomes an office foster cat and lives in the office of an administration staff member. Our medical team develops a treatment plan. A volunteer sends Boo Boo Kitty’s profile to the San Jose Mercury News for consideration as “Pet of the Week.”

Now, here’s the twist. At the same time Boo Boo Kitty is staying with us, there is a retired nun grieving the loss of her beloved cat. She wonders when to adopt a new cat and is waiting for a sign.

As it turns out, this particular nun has a habit – although this particular habit is not the kind most nuns inhabit. She is, after all, retired. Her habit is calling every cat she meets, “boo boo kitty.” In her personal dictionary, “boo boo kitty” is a synonym for cat.

One day, she sees the “Pet of the Week” feature in the San Jose Mercury News, and it is none other than our very own Boo Boo Kitty. Hello flashing neon sign. The nun tells her housemate (another retired nun) that they have to go to Humane Society Silicon Valley. They have to meet Boo Boo Kitty.

At our Animal Community Center, they meet with one of our adoption counselors. The first nun shares her coincidental details. With high hopes, they meet Boo Boo Kitty, but it is not a slam-dunk. Our adoption counselor’s introduction to Boo Boo Kitty is positive (love the contrast of the white whiskers against the black fur) and accurate (She’s got early stage kidney disease). The nuns hesitate. “Kidney disease??” Our adoption counselor explains that Boo Boo Kitty will need a special diet, but her care should otherwise be routine.

The first nun is sold. She’s ready to bring Boo Boo Kitty home. Her housemate, however, is less convinced. “I don’t know. I’m not sure she’s really the right cat for us. How do we know she’s really the one?”

What happened next is straight out of a Disney movie. The second nun is sitting next to Boo Boo Kitty who, at that very moment, rolls over, belly-side up. She stretches out, takes her paw and gives the nun a playful WHAP as if to say, “Toss that silly little thought out of your head. OF COURSE I’m going home with you.”

Needless to say, that sealed the deal.

“Coincidence,” Albert Einstein said, “is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Now, I’m certainly not about to tell you what to believe. We are, however, not just talking about one nun but two. So, I figure if the world’s most renowned mind is open to such an idea, we should at least leave it on the table.

Regardless, it reminds me that technology does not have all the answers. And Boo Boo Kitty taught me that if I’m willing to take a leap of faith, something far more powerful than the Google Search Engine will provide an answer.