This is the story of a beloved rescued Persian cat named Yoda. His life continues to help countless other cats and people too. Rescuer Beth Stern had a special relationship with her rescued Persian, Yoda Stern, whom the New Yorker called the family’s “elder statesman.”
He became “one of her best friends,” an internet sensation, and her very own “marshmallow man.”
As it turned out, rescuing Yoda led to an inspired children’s book series and saving many other animals. When it was time to say goodbye to Yoda, Stern shared the journey with thousands of followers, and there was a beautiful outpurring of love and support.
Yoda the Magical Cat
Many of you know Yoda the Persian cat is the star of children’s books by bestselling author/rescuer/TV personality/and spokesperson for the North Shore Animal League America (NSALA), Beth Stern. Her husband Howard named Yoda, as well as many of the 90 kittens they rescued and fostered together in one year. He often helped groom the Persian, a daily routine.
The first book was about rescuing an emaciated and sad Yoda from the North Shore Animal League. The book’s proceeds benefit the shelter. But Yoda was in the shelter for “way too long,” Beth said. Later, she learned the cat wasn’t expected to live six months due to a heart condition. So, she and Howard decided to give him the best life they could.
When Stern brought him home, it was spring kitten season, and the Persian was immediately drawn to the foster kittens. Surprisingly, he refused to leave the foster room, becoming a proud Papa to numerous kittens, like Cocomelon, whose story we previously shared.
Yoda’s Heart Heals
After caring for foster kittens, Yoda had “a new spring in his step.” Afterward, Yoda’s health dramatically improved. He went off heart medication after shocked vets saw his heart becoming stronger.
“I truly believe that love and purpose healed his heart,” Stern said.
Stern wanted to share the story of the “magical” cat with the world.
“He had probably three to six months left,” Beth told Yahoo about Yoda, who was diagnosed with a heart ailment. ‘He was a sad little guy — his fur was shaved, he was super skinny, and his eyes were ucky. Around that time, I brought home a litter of kittens and Yoda followed me to the foster room. His eyes were wide as saucers, his ears perked up, he ran in and started grooming each kitten from head to toe. He pushed them over to the food bowl. If one escaped, he’d chase after her and corral her back in. He has not left the foster room in six months!'”
Yoda and Buddy
The following year, Stern shared the sequel of Yoda and his fostering partner, a blind foster kitten Buddy.
“I literally sit in the foster room and observe, and miracles are happening in there,” Stern said.
These books helped save countless other pets. All proceeds from the books went to the world’s largest no-kill rescue organization, the NSALA.
Video by Steve Adubato:
Yoda Crosses the Rainbow Bridge
In October 2022, the Sterns learned Yoda had lung cancer and would not live much longer. Beth and Howard were devastated. She shared the rollercoaster of emotions in her NSALA blog.
He had shown rapid weight loss, uneven breathing and a lack of appetite. As time went by, the fluffy cat started to look “more like a baby kitten,” but he still watched over the foster kittens as much as he could.
The Sterns gave him the best final days, with medication to keep him comfortable. They wouldn’t let Yoda suffer.
“Resting and purring💙”
Once back home from the vet, the other cats in the home seemed to know. They started giving him more love and affection. Meanwhile, thousands of followers online sent love and prayers, and healing purrs for Yoda and the rescuers.
Then, it was time for Yoda to depart, and the Sterns were thankful they could help his crossing be a peaceful one.
“I always told him he smelled like what I imagined Heaven would smell like…💙 Thank you @sagharborvet for making this day so calm and peaceful for us. And to everyone reading this: we miss him already but we are ok. Yoda needed us to help him go and what a gift that we were able to.”
A Reunion with Buddy and Grogu
Just a short time later, the blind foster kitten Buddy crossed the rainbow bridge too. Now, they could be together again in the next world, reunited with another of Stern’s rescues, Grogu. When Yoda’s “mini-me” suddenly passed earlier in August of 2022, he grieved for his friend for several weeks.
“I wasn’t surprised to see his best friend, Yoda, grieving. But it broke my heart, just the same,” Stern wrote.
“I’ve come to realize that grief is not something you ‘get over.’ Rather, it’s an ongoing expression of love that changes and softens but never leaves. Not long ago, I happened upon this quote from V.S. Naipaul, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001. I think he defines grief perfectly,” Stern wrote.
Adopting a Special Needs Cat
Although losing a pet is always heartbreaking, Stern continues to save and advocate for special needs pets like Yoda, Grogu, Buddy, and many others.
“Consider adopting a special needs pet. It’ll be one of the most rewarding and special relationships you’ll ever have,” Stern said.
These cat’s lives continues to help countless other pets, much like our own Cole. Their stories live on and touch so many lives for people and cats worldwide. And, yes, we do believe they are on the other side of the rainbow, and we will see our beloved furbabies again one day. Love never dies but choosing to give and receive love makes our lives worth living.