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It's pretty clear that Sidney Hertzberg loves cats. The 13-year-old from Ferndale recently won $50,000 in an essay contest which was sponsored by Petco and donated all of the money to the Ferndale cat shelter where she volunteers.

Sidney's winning essay detailed her life since adopting her rescue kitten, Mr. Mittens. The teen tells WXYZ that while she initially thought she was saving the cat's life, it turned out that Mr. Mittens helped save hers.

“I have an illness called POTS and so with some of the symptoms that come with the illness are dizziness, fatigue, and muscle aches," Hertzberg tells the TV station in the video below. "My cat Mr. Mittens, I got him when he was 4 ounces and he was about a week old, so he was very, very small and he had to be bottle-fed. And I really thought I was going to help save his life, but I did not even know he would actually help save mine."

Sidney says she wrote the story straight from the heart, but really didn't expect to chosen as the winner.

“I figured OK, let’s write a story maybe by some miraculous reason we’ll get in the top something,” she said.

She says she couldn't believe her eyes when she opened the check and discovered that her essay had won the $50,000 grand prize.

Hertzberg recognizes that 2020 has been a tough year all around and figures the prize money will be put to good use by the shelter. She also plans to start a program called 'Sidney's Seniors for Seniors' where she helps pair elderly cats with senior citizens.


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