This stray orange tabby kitten changed everything.
The feline, found walking the streets of Ellington, Missouri, inspired a company to completely reconfigure its packaging, making it safer for animals and the planet.
Laura Baker, a registered nurse and founder of the Itty Bitty Kitty City rescue in Ellington, said that in February 2021, an area resident called her and said she saw a kitten with what appeared to be a plastic ring around its body. The plastic was digging into the skin of the growing animal, and it needed help. Baker found the kitten and immediately took him to the vet, where he underwent surgery to remove the ring.
It was determined that the cat had become stuck in the packaging of the Munchkin brand's Any Angle Cup. Baker wanted to make Munchkin aware of what happened, and sent a letter explaining the situation. To her surprise, the company responded, sending money for the kitten's surgery.
Diana Barnes, chief brand officer and creative director of Munchkin, said it was "soul crushing" to learn what happened to the kitten, and even though the company had just rebranded its products and packaging, they went back to the drawing board. "We clearly had to do better on the packaging materials," she said.
Over the course of a year, new packaging was developed that is made from 60 to 70 percent recycled material that is fully compostable. Keeping animals in mind, it's also easier to tear. Baker and her volunteers are in awe over everything that has transpired since the kitten — who was adopted by Baker and named Munchkin — entered their lives. "What other name would there be for Munchkin?" Baker said.