DENVER — Back in April, 9NEWS brought you the story of Junior, a cat who was born feral at Coors Field, trapped and socialized, and then put up for adoption through the Animal Rescue of the Rockies.
Three months later, we have a good-news update: Junior got his forever home last week, complete with a feline "brother" and a new name.
His human mom recently moved to Colorado from Virginia, but she had her eye on Junior weeks before she got here. Along with a home, she gave Junior a new name: Chip.
She already has a cat named Dale, so Chip was a perfect name choice. Also, she said, her new cat is mostly dark-colored, like a chocolate chip, and has a chip on his ear.
> The video above aired in April when Junior/Chip went up for adoption.
Ear clipping is part of the trap-neuter-return process, to show that a feral cat has been neutered. Here's more about TNR and its benefits to feral cat populations.
The cat formally known as Junior was born in April 2021 at Coors Field and was the only known survivor of the litter of Socks – the focus of the Twitter account Coors Field Cat.
RELATED: Coors Field cat up for adoption
Junior was 9 months old when he was trapped, which was older than the usual age at which feral cats can be tamed. After they reach 3 or 4 months old, kittens become too feral to successfully live a domestic life.
Jenni Leigh, who fosters animals for Animal Rescue of the Rockies, wanted to give it a try. She spent months socializing Junior and inviting over guests so he would get used to other humans. Eventually, he started interacting with visitors and begging for attention.
On the day he met his new mom, he was flopping over for belly rubs. Leigh got emotional over the moment.
"Even just remembering the moment makes me teary because it's been such a long journey for him, from his early days when he was feral and untouchable," she said. "A few days later, he walked into his new carrier willingly and settled in for his trip home as if he'd been planning this for months."
Leigh said that Junior/Chip will "always be in my heart," but she has plenty of new foster kittens to keep her busy. One of them, Cabbage, has a cleft palate that requires intensive care. She's raising money for the surgery Cabbage will need in a few months.
"This is the life of a cat foster home," Leigh said. "We're constantly welcoming new friends and saying goodbye to others. Junior is happy and loved in his new home, and because we said goodbye to him, we are able to say yes to rescuing another cat in need. Seeing our friends happy and loved in their forever homes is absolutely worth it."
> The videos below: Jenni Leigh coaxes Junior out from under a couch with treats, and Junior's mom, Socks, hangs out at Coors Field a couple days before the 2022 home opener.
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