Although Wendy Bylsma wouldn't describe her or her husband as "cat people," the mom of five chose to adopt a terminally ill kitten with her kids to teach them about compassion. On a visit to the Best Friends Animal Society in Salt Lake City, UT, the Bylsma family spotted a tiny kitten all alone in its cage, so they asked to play with her, and the rest is history.
Shelter employees told the family that the kitten, who is now named Apple after Bylsma's 3-year-old's favorite snack, had contracted feline leukemia — a disease that significantly weakens the immune system — from her mother and likely wouldn't live very long, as there is no medication for the disease and her body isn't able to fight off other infections. Even more heartbreaking, Apple had already been adopted by another family, but once they learned she was sick, they brought her back to the no-kill shelter.
"When I saw this precious little kitten that had been returned, and we realized that no one was going to take this kitten because she was sick — that broke our hearts," Bylsma told TODAY. "The thought that she wasn't perfect so no one wanted her . . . that was such a huge and heavy thing on my heart."
So, in an effort to teach her five children — especially the youngest two, 3-year-old Graeme and 1-year-old Rhys — about compassion and helping others when no one else will, they took Apple home to love on her and give the little kitten the best life possible.
"My younger ones are so little . . . but I've already started the conversations with them about when Apple does pass away," said Bylsma. "I don't know if we'll tell them that she's gone to kitty heaven or what we'll say, but we hope they'll understand. This was such a great opportunity to teach our kids about helping others at a young age. Yes, it will be sad when Apple dies, but that's OK because we gave her a home. We loved her when no one else would love her. This is what the world needs more of."