It was a heartwarming reunion when a cat was brought back to a blind 4-year-old girl who's battling a brain tumor.
Charley, 4, of Pensacola, Fla., was captured on camera as she was reunited with her cat Angel after the feline dashed out of the house months ago.
“You can tell [Angel] has been through a lot,” Charley’s mom, Heather Howell, told InsideEdition.com. “Charley is nonstop talking about Angel."
Charley was diagnosed with brain cancer at just 3 months old, and has been on chemotherapy for most of her life. A brain surgery that got rid of most of her tumor at 1-year-old also robbed her of her vision.
“It’s not easy, but we do the best we can do," Howell said. "She’s a happy little girl. When we first found out about it, I wasn’t even sure she was going to make it to 4 years old. We just take it as it comes.”
She said her family found Angel two years ago, hiding in a parking lot behind their apartment complex. At the time, the cat was just a few weeks old.
They took her in, and almost immediately, the stray kitten fostered a unique bond with Charley.
“Anytime Charley is having a bad day from chemo and just laid up on the couch, Angel is there,” Howell said. “She’s right by her side.”
Howell said they had the door open while they were loading in groceries in September when Angel ran off.
“Charley doesn’t really comprehend things like an average 4-year-old does, so there wasn’t really a way to explain it to her,” her mom said. “She would just call for her, and we thought to just buy her another kitten because we were all bummed.”
For months, they searched and kept in constant contact with local shelters until a friend alerted them to a Facebook post that showed Angel and her new adopted owners.
Howell said she guessed someone else thought Angel was a stray and took her in for several months before turning her over to a shelter toward the end of November.
Although the shelter wouldn’t share the new owners’ information due to privacy constraints, supporters of Charley’s Facebook page, Smiles for Baby Charley, found the new owners’ contact info, and alerted them to the post.
Vanessa Hilliard, who lives only minutes away from Charley’s family, said she found out about the mix-up shortly after she adopted Angel, which had been renamed Noel at the time of the rehoming.
She said she called the Howell family immediately, and was more than happy to bring their new cat by so they could check whether it was Angel.
“I was like, ‘I hope this is her cat,’” Hilliard told InsideEdition.com. “I cried on my way to her house. It was so sad. We were connected to Angel quickly.”
But she said she knew Charley needed Angel more than they needed Noel, and was glad to reunite the girl and her cat ahead of the holidays.
“I believe we were just in the right place at the right time,” Hilliard said.
To donate to Charley's medical bills, visit the family's YouCaring page.