From Trash to Treasure: Panda’s Journey

June 15, 2022


One morning in early February, a person collecting cans in the Bronx saw a black trash bag moving inside a garbage pail. To further inspect, the Good Samaritan opened the bag and was horrified to find a black and white cat tied inside a second trash bag. Evident by the holes ripped in the bag, the poor cat had been trying to claw his way out. Thankfully, the Good Samaritan called the police, who brought the cat to the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center (ARC) in New York City. Here, the two-year-old cat, who was soon named Panda, would start his recovery with us. 


When Panda arrived at ARC he was underweight, had skin disease and his claws were frayed and had pieces of fabric and plastic stuck to them from trying to escape. 

“Despite his traumatic experience, Panda was sweet and social and allowed the medical team to examine him, give him vaccines and draw bloodwork without issue,” Dr. Aubrey Crowley, Medical Supervisor at ARC, tells us. 

Luckily, all of Panda’s lab work showed he has no significant health issues aside from mild dehydration and giardiasis, a common protozoal GI infection. 

Over the next few weeks, Panda was treated for his giardia and his weight was closely monitored by ARC staff. His skin condition also improved. Now healthier, Panda was sent to foster where he would meet the person who would change his life. 

Finding Love in Foster Care

Abigail J. had fostered two cats before Panda and even helped find them loving homes, but it only took two weeks for her to realize Panda had already found his. 

“Originally, I had no intention of adopting Panda, and had planned to continue fostering other cats once he was adopted,” says Abigail. “I had previously fostered two other cats and helped them find their homes, and both times it was incredibly bittersweet to see these kitties leave. As a foster for these sweet kitties, it’s always slightly heartbreaking when you receive the email that your foster cat is ready for adoption, as you know your time with them is coming to an end. But what had helped me through the process was knowing that these cats would transition well into their new homes. But Panda was different. When I received the notice that he would be ready for adoption soon, I began to realize how attached Panda had become to my roommates and myself.” 


“Almost every cat that comes through the foster system at the ASPCA, has a unique and typically heartbreaking backstory,” Abigail continues. “All three of my foster cats were on a legal hold before adoption, but Panda’s was definitely the saddest. Someone had actually thrown this sweet boy away. He had known abandonment, neglect and abuse before I had met him, and was still this sweet, silly cat. Once he understood he was safe, his personality began to shine, and he became a member of the family.” 

Panda would greet Abigail and her roommates at the door when they got home from work. And as soon as they were through the door, he was stuck to them like glue, following them from room to room—even the bathroom!


“He snuggles into my arms at night to fall asleep,” Abigail tells us. “When I got the email that Panda was ready for adoption and he would be leaving soon, I realized that Panda already believed he was home. And that’s when I decided that I would be adopting Panda.”

On March 23, almost two months after Panda was found in the trash, Abigail officially gave him a fresh start to life. 

Learning His Way

When Panda first arrived at Abigail’s apartment, he was curious about everything, but didn’t exactly know how to behave like a cat. 

“If you have cats, you know that when you shake the bag of treats, the cats will come running from every corner of the Earth,” says Abigail. “When I shook the bag of treats, Panda had no reaction. It wasn’t until I fed him a few that Panda understood that treats were delicious. Now I have to have a child lock on the treat/food cabinet to keep him out of it.”


Panda was also not sure how to play. Abigail would throw toys for him, and he would just stare back at her. It wasn’t until he became more comfortable in his new digs that he started playing. Now, Panda gets the zoomies regularly and he loves jumping after ping pong balls. 

“Life with Panda is never dull,” Abigail tells us. “He has a big personality that brings a lot of silliness and playfulness into my life. He’s never more than three steps behind me at all times. And I’ve gained a personal shoe warmer because he loves to take naps on my shoes.” 


“Panda’s story is one of both extreme tragedy and fortune,” says Dr. Crowley. “His outcome could have been so different had it not been for a Good Samaritan investigating the bag in which he was found. Thankfully, Panda was rescued, treated and now has the loving home he always deserved.”