Images of a cat in an animal shelter looking desperately out the window for the owners who gave her up for adoption are breaking hearts online.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that 3.2 million cats enter animal shelters in the United States each year. While no less than 2.1 million of these felines will be adopted, many are still struggling to find a new forever home.
This certainly proves the case for Bell, the cat who features in a video posted to TikTok by Gaston County Animal Care & Enforcement. The distressing footage has been viewed 7.3 million times online and can be viewed here.
According to the clip, Bell was the only cat remaining at the facility when the footage was taken, as all of their other cats had been adopted. Abandoned after eight years with its owners, the change has clearly come as a shock to the distressed red-haired moggy.
In the video, Bell is shown hiding in the corner of her living space, under a stool. “She’s scared here,” an accompanying caption reads as Bell is shown crawling, uncertainly, toward one of the shelter workers.
The most heartbreaking detail is to come as the video shows Bell staring out the window of the establishment as if waiting for someone.
A legend explains that she “continues to look for her family” in vain.
A shocking insight into the reality faced by many older pets returned to such animal shelters, the video touched a nerve for many on social media.
Midnighthxlly wrote, “Waiting for her family to return breaks my heart.” Courageous_onee agreed the footage was “heartbreaking”, adding, “I live in California and feel so desperate that I can’t race and adopt him.”
Others were shocked that her owners could simply abandon her after eight years together. Cheese Hot Dog wrote, “I will never understand people who don’t treat pets like family.” MissMindyMMC agrees: “Can people understand that when you get a pet, it’s part of your family? And giving it up is like leaving a child behind.”
More than anything, however, those commenting were desperate to see Bell’s story have a happy ending. As Angela Biggs said, “She needs a permanent home to live her time.”
Thankfully, those wishes have since been granted with fans updating Gaston County Animal Care & Enforcement to confirm that Bell has been adopted and is now enjoying life in a new home with a loving new owner.
Newsweek has contacted Gaston County Animal Care & Enforcement for comment.
The story closely follows another centering on a Persian cat called Percy, from Kansas, who was eventually adopted after a social media call from a local cat cafe went viral.
Elsewhere, a 12-year-old cat called Hermès, who had been in a shelter for six years, became an overnight celebrity after a video chronicling his trip was posted online.
Meanwhile, this video of a rescue cat called Albert realizing he’s “found his forever home” has also proven popular on TikTok.