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DFW.com Model Pet cat winner: Katniss

What they won

Our dog and cat winners won generous prize packages from Grand Pet Resort & Salon in Fort Worth, which includes 3-night stay in a luxurious suite; choice of 3 premium services during the pet’s stay; including pool time, one-on-one time with a Pet Pal; a pampering salon experience including a bath, Blueberry facial, pedicure, and cut and style, and a selection of gourmet treats from their Grand Bakery. More on Grand Pet Resort & Salon in Fort Worth at www.thegrandpet.com. Our handsome horse winner gets a $100 gift card to Russell Feed & Supply in Crowley.

Posted 4:45pm on Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013

Click to check out our dog winner and our majestic “alterna-pet” winner. And for our annual “extra” awards, click here.

Like her namesake, Katniss the cat is a survivor.

Abandoned with nine other kittens outside a PetSmart in Hurst, she was found sick, dehydrated, covered in fleas and wilting in the Texas heat.

In her own version of the feline Hunger Games, Katniss and her fellow tributes were taken to a crowded shelter after the store determined that it could not keep the kittens. A rescue group could only take eight of them. Katniss and her brother, Peeta, stayed behind in the shelter, facing euthanization within an hour.

Watching the lithe black-and-white cat now, about four months later, you’d never guess that she stared down death. Surrounded by a lovable menagerie of four dogs, two other cats and four humans at Brooke Farrow’s house, she lounges around in her Kat Kave and generally rules the roost: Katniss, the 4-pound kitty queen, and winner of DFW.com’s Model Pet cat title.

Katniss is also the kind of animal who will force you to break a steadfast “no more pets” rule. Just ask Farrow, a presentation manager for PetSmart. When she learned that the kittens who would become Katniss and Peeta were to be put down so quickly, she says, she nearly had a panic attack. And she knew she had to act.

“We had decided that we weren’t getting any more pets,” says Farrow, who lives with two of her sisters, their mother and all their pets. “And then here I go, bringing the two of them home from work. But I just couldn’t stand the thought of them being euthanized. And honestly, I’m not really a cat person, and I never have been. But there’s just something about them. I adore them.”

Katniss needed hernia surgery and recovery took time, but Katniss is now up to a “whopping” 4.3 pounds with lots and lots of help from calorie-booster NutriCat. Peeta, who officially belongs to Brooke’s sister, Lisa, bounced back more quickly.

Katniss’ “blended family” is a story in itself. Three years ago, the Farrow sisters’ father died unexpectedly, and the sisters decided to buy a house together to live with their mother. Only Lisa lived in Texas at the time; Brooke spent time in Ohio and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the family’s hometown, before everyone made the move to Grand Prairie.

Bailey the Chihuahua is the oldest of the pets; Brooke and her sister, Melanie, gave the dog to their father as a Father’s Day present 13 years ago. When their dad passed away, Bailey became their mom’s dog. Then there’s Pigga, a cat who is as big as Katniss and Peeta put together, whom Melanie adopted several years ago.

There’s also Bella, whom Brooke adopted from the Humane Society four years ago; she’s in training to be a therapy dog. And Legolas and Sunny, Chiweenies adopted by Melanie, who gave Sunny to sister Lisa.

It all makes for a slightly crowded house, but a happy one.

“We love it,” Brooke says. “I always missed the holidays [when she lived in Ohio]. I never had any birthdays with my family, Christmas I was always away from my family.”

Brooke says that Katniss and Peeta adapted to all the dogs immediately. She shows smartphone pictures of Katniss and Bella gazing at each other during the first two days Katniss was in the house. Legolas (a male, as any Lord of the Rings fan knows) even began acting as a “mother figure” to the kittens.

“There was like no separation at all,” Brooke says. “From the moment [Katniss and Peeta] got here, they fit in. That’s kinda crazy, when you have four dogs who are all used to each other, and one cat, and everyone just accepted them. I’m sure it had to do with the fact that they were babies, but still, there was never any animosity between them. They all just loved each other from the beginning.”

With all the animal attraction at this house, we had to wonder: What made Brooke choose Katniss as her entry into the Model Pet competition?

“There’s something different about her,” Brooke says. “She’s kind of independent but at the same time, she’s really goofy and really funny and really sweet. That one picture [in the entry] just really stood out, the one with her little arms up in the air. I don’t know — she doesn’t seem like a cat to me.”

Melanie adds: “She’s very friendly and rubs up against you. She’s not much of a kisser, but she’s a snuggler. She’ll just lay there and sleep with you for hours and hours.”

She’s a survivor who has found her bliss.

Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872 Twitter: @rphilpot

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