Happy Birthday Vincent .....
a cat who walked his talk ......
Morning! I’m letting Opie sleep in a bit this morning. Wanted to stop in and say THANK YOU to all of you helping Opie fulfill his dream of being a responsible man cat, of leading with kindness and caring and being a wonderful provider to all his charges, large and small. It’s no small feat to take on the responsibility of caring for 1300 animals of 22 species. I know, I watch him work. In a way, I’m embarrassed to say as I do more cat things all day long. Chase thru the grass, snooze in the sun, climb trees, and hide here in the office on rainy mornings.
But alas ... my poor boy can’t climb trees. He was born differently abled. Yet that tough start in life hasn’t stopped him from anything but climbing. Hasn’t stopped him at all. He’s really come a long way from the poor little helpless little guy I gave birth to on August 4, 2011.
Seems so long ago .... such a different world .... a scarier time ... a time when I didn’t know if I could possibly keep it together to raise my family.
Let me tell you about Opie’s beginnings.
Guess it needs to start with mine.
My first memories are living with a parcel of hoomans. There were big ones, little ones. The door was open all the time. I went in and out as I pleased. They’d snuggle me, they’d feed me .... and sometimes they’d forget to let me back in a night. They forgot to take me to the speuter clinic.
Vincent and Duke
So many of my kind that I’ve met who have tough stories to tell .... well, it’s all cus of that missed trip to the speuter clinic. If only all hoomans knew about that. Knew how much better our lives would be. How much safer. How much longer. I do hope hoomans get smarter. We need their help to get to the speuter clinics.
Anyway ... my story ... Opie’s story. I wasn’t much more than a baby myself when this traveling Tom came along .... and ohhhh weeeee was he a cutie ... and he started paying attention to me!!!! Little ME !!! He was an older guy, experienced, and he liked me !!! He made me all kinds of promises, nose kissed me, head butted me every time he’d see me. Than one day something felt funny, I was howling for no reason, rubbing my belly on the ground ..... really feeling strange ... something had gotten into me that had never been there before.
Tom told me it’s called nature ... the birds and the bees .... and he got really rough and did some scary things. But I trusted him ... he’d been my best friend. So I couldn’t figure out why he vanished shortly after that. It wasn’t long before I saw him courting the kitty that lived two houses down.
Soon I started to get fat, my insides feeling bumpy and jumping around. That’s when the older mama cat next door had a talk to me and told me I was gonna have kittens. KITTENS? I was barely a kitten myself.
The cycle of being pregnant, giving birth, raising kittens, having the hoomans take them away, getting pregnant again ...... went on and one .... one litter after another .... and the litters got bigger. The first time it was only 3 ... then 4 ... then 6 ....
My family packed up one day and left. Didn’t even take the furniture or nothin. Loaded up some boxes and their parcel of kids in the van, and took off. And never came back.
I’d scratch at the door, howl even. Nobody there to open up. Soon a hooman came along and tossed all their stuff on the street, and a truck came and took it away. The carpet, everything. The hoomans in the house painting chased me out when I went in looking for nums. They yelled at me .... Get out of here you stink rotten cat, you’re probably the one who peed all over the carpet.
Well I had a time or two. But what was I supposed to do? If I was inside when the hoomans went out, I got left in. If they were gone a long time where should I go? I couldn’t get out. Here at Rikki’s we have indoor facilities they call litterboxes, nobody had that in my old neighborhood.
I’d knew other cats who never went in a house. Lots of ‘em. Some of them my kids and grandkids and greatgrandkids ..... They found food on a nice ladies porch and slept in any warm cubby hole they could find. So I joined them.
And once again I was pregnant. I took up under a porch near where my home had been and made a nest for my new batch of babies. This was getting old, real old, it was eat, sleep, have babies. There had to be a better way to live, just had to be.
This time I was enormously fat. Old Tom and I had ended up with several litters of kittens together. These weren’t his. In all honesty I don’t know who’s they were. I’d taken to street life and when I got into the merowry howling rubbing belly on the ground mode, I just didn’t care anymore ... there was no romance anymore, not like with Old Tom, no nose kissing, no head butting ..... just one guy answering nature after another ... just like what I’d become. We didn’t know any other way of life.
Please be sure everybody you know goes to the speuter clinic. Please .... we don’t keep having litter after litter cuz we want to .... it’s cuz we don’t know how not to. Please help us and take us to the speuter clinic.
Anyway, this time I had nine babies ... yeah, can you imagine ... NINE !!!! I remember thinking, as I lay there, giving birth to one ... two ... three .... four ... five ... six .... seven ... eight ... nine .... will this ever stop? How long before I have elebenty seven? How long before I simply pop before they’re born?
While I was cleaning them up, exhausted, hungry, sick and tired of the thought of one more batch of kids .... please don’t get me wrong ... I loved and cared for every one of my kids .... but it was getting tiring. I was thin, I was hungry, I was tired. But I loved my kids and took the best care of them I could. It was just getting so hard .... and I was only three years old. Actually getting old for street cat life.
As I was cleaning up my new batch of kids, I saw that two of them were so tiny. Less than half the size of the others. I wondered if they’d survive. Some older moms had talked about inbreeding and how eventually it seemed everybody ended up with sick and undersized babies, babies who died. Oh no, was I headed for this? So far all my kids had been healthy. And as much as I didn’t want more, didn’t want to have to eat for 5 or 7 or 9 or now TEN ..... didn’t want to be suckled ... didn’t want to raise up another litter ..... I loved them. Can you understand that? They were MY babies, I loved them ... even though I wish I’d gotten into the speuter clinic ...
Were my two little ones gonna die? They were weak. I tired to snuggle them even tighter and get them nursing. Then I noticed a kitten with no feet. Another missing an arm. Oh my gosh, every one of the nine had problems. Not a single one was “normal”. All my babies were, what Opie would later teach me, is called differently-abled. How was now going to try to struggle to find food and shelter for me and nine handicapped babies?
I started begging the lady who’s porch I was under to give me food. She wasn’t a cat lady. Not by a long shot. But she wasn’t cruel either. She yelled at the lady next door who liked cats and who’d sometimes put food out for us. She gave the porch lady a bag of food and told her to dump some out for me every day.
The porch lady crawled half way under the porch to put food there so it wouldn’t get rained on. She took one look at my new family and started screaming. “Oh my gosh!! You HORRIBLE mother!! Help!! She’s eating her babies!!”
What? I was licking them like a good mother does, nursing them .... no way was I eating my own babies. And she kept screaming .... “She’s eaten their legs off! Somebody needs to take these babies away from her.”
Well I later learned this part of the story.
The porch lady called animal control and reported a “horrible mother with a dozen kittens that were all half eaten” and asked that someone come and take me away. We were living out near Waynesboro and animal control called a nice lady they knew who rescued kittens, Barbara White.
Barbara and Opie
Barbara was horrified. “Eating her own kittens?” Could that poor mother be so hungry she has nothing else? What should I do? How do I deal with this? Barbara called Kerry here at Rikki’s. Barbara had been rescuing kitties for a few years, Kerry had been doing it for 30 something and had lots of experience, so Barbara would ask her the tough questions.
Kerry said, “I don’t think so. Mothers don’t do that. Go get the mom and kittens and call me back after you see what’s going on. I’d think it’s more like a predator or something that hurt a kitten. I don’t think the mom would do that. Don’t worry about plans right now. Just go get them and call me back.”
Next thing I knew, this nice lady is crawling under the porch and picking me and all my kids up and putting us in a cage. I got scared .... was she taking us off to kill us .... I’d heard of the killing place .... would this be our end? She seemed so nice. She talked to me. When we got in her car, she looked over my babies.
I could hear what she said when she called Kerry back. “All of them, all nine of them, are missing feet, legs. It’s awful. Do you think the mother did this? She seems so nice.” And Kerry said, is there blood? Does it look fresh? It sounds like they can’t be more than a day or two old, if it was injuries you’d see that.”
“No,” said Barbara, “no blood. Just clean stumps. All of them. Every single kitten is damaged. The mom’s so nice, she’s just purring. She wants to be with her kittens. Do you think I need to separate them?”
“No,” said Kerry, “no. I think you have birth defects on your hands. It doesn’t sound like injuries and I’ve never never heard of a mother cat who’d chew limbs off each of her kittens. Get ‘em checked out, I bet it’s birth defects.”
Opie and Timmy
And so that’s when I met the first doctor I ever saw. She confirmed that it was birth defects and said probably from inbreeding. She offered to kill all my babies for Barbara. I stood up and screamed and Barbara started to cry. She didn’t want to kill my family but the doctor was telling her it’d be best for all of us ... poor handicapped babies ..... My gosh ... so it’s BEST for MY kids to be KILLED? This nice lady had taken us to the killing place after all .... couldn’t leave well enough alone and let me cope with raising my nine differently-abled babies on my own .... now gonna kill us all ? What kind of hell had I just entered into?
Barbara told the doc lady, that she wasn’t going to kill us. I breathed a sigh of relief. Barbara told the doc she knew lots of differently abled animals who had good lives. The doc said my kids might die anyway. Barbara said that if they did, well so be it, but she wouldn’t be the cause of it, she’d do her best to give us all good homes.
When Barbara got back in the car with all of us .... thank you god, ALL of us .... she burst into tears. That’s when I first heard about Vincent. He was differently abled, Barbara said. He was missing a leg and had other problems and he’d taught her and almost everybody in the whole world that being differently abled was ok and nobody should die cuz of it.
And then she called Kerry and told her it was birth defects. She asked if any of the kittens grew up too differently abled to get homes, could they come live with Vincent and he train them to be Spokes Kitties. Hmmmm that sounded important !!!! And so that was the plan as Barbara took us home.
She set up a nice place for us to live in her bedroom. She helped me out cuz it’s hard to nurse nine babies, she nursed some. WOW I didn’t know hoomans could do that !!!
The next day was very sad. Barbara and I tried and tried to make my two littlest ones get stronger ... but they got weaker .... and they crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. We both cried.
Now I had seven babies. And with Barbara’s help, they thrived. She fed me all I could eat. Good nums too. Soon you couldn’t even see my bones thru my fur. You had to pat me to tell I had any!!!
And my babies grew. When my family was about three weeks old, I got sick. I had a high fever, I felt awful, I couldn’t eat. Barbara took me back to the doc. I got stuck with needles, they took blood, they gave me medicine, but they didn’t know what was wrong, but said I’d probably die .... probably from not having gotten any shots ever before .... and they told Barbara it’d be best to just kill me. Here we were again .... JUST kill me? JUST ..... like it’s no big deal?
Barbara said no, give me meds, tell me what to do, I’ll do everything I possibly can to help her get well and I’ll take care of her babies until she does. And home we went. Barbara held me and made me eat and gave me medicine. She nursed my babies for me.
In a few days I was feeling better and able to help take care of the kids again. Barbara had done good .... but she wasn’t licking them like a real mom should and they’d missed that. I was glad to be back on the job.
Then one of the babies got sick. Lethargic, wouldn’t eat, hardly moved. I was so scared when Barbara took my baby to that doc. But she brought him home with medicine. We tried and tried, we made the baby eat, gave him meds, but he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Barbara and I hugged the rest of my family and cried.
In the morning another baby was sick. We tried and tried and she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. And then two were sick. One by one, as Barbara and I worked round the clock, Barbara canceling everything else in her life to help me save my family, one by one my babies died. Opie was the last, and he was so terribly sick. We just knew he was going to follow the others.
Barbara was talking to Kerry and said, if I can save this last one, can he come and work with Vincent? And Kerry said sure. For days, Barbara and I took turns taking care of Opie. Many times sure he was gone ... and then he’d mew and move just a little and Barbara would get a little fluids in and a few drops of milk.
After days and days, Opie started to crawl again, was able to suckle, and started to get better. Thank you God, at least one of my babies might live. And he did.
As they say, the rest is history.
Though you might wonder why I live at Rikki’s too. I’m perfectly healthy. I’m very friendly. I could have been adopted out. So I’ll tell you why they let me live with Opie.
Barbara introduces Opie to Vincent
Barbara had taken Opie out to visit Vincent a couple times while he was growing. I was always very distressed when Opie was out of my sight. It’s rough, having kids, having them taken away from you, always hoping they are in a good home, being treated right, not taken to that killing place .... but you always wonder .... where is each and every one of my babies .... any mother out there knows exactly what I’m talking about. Each baby taken, if a part of your heart ripped away. And every time Opie would come back with Barbara I’d rush to him and lick his face, so glad he, my surviving baby, my only family left on this planet ..... was alive and well.
Then a day came when Opie and I went for a trip. Barbara told me we were going to Rikki’s. I’d get to meet Vincent who was going to adopt Opie and then I’d be going on to my new home with a nice lady she’d found. Oh no ... the time had come .... they were going to separate us ... I’d never see my baby Opie again. I was so sad. Why couldn’t Opie and I stay with this nice Barbara lady forever?
Timmy, Vincent and Opie
At Rikki’s we met Kerry and Vincent and a little guy named Timmy who was about Opie’s age and had hind legs he couldn’t use well. Vincent nose kissed Opie and me and welcomed us. Timmy was a bit shy, but soon he and Opie where playing. I kept checking up on him and licking him.
Then Barbara said, “Nelly, come here ... here’s the lady who’s going to take you home, come meet her!” No, no, no .... she looked like a nice lady .... but don’t take me away from Opie, why can’t she take us both? I struggled out her arms and ran to Opie. Everybody talked about how sad this was but how it was for the best.
The best for who, is what I wanted to know. Barbara, the new lady, Rikki’s .... would nobody let Opie and me stay together? After all this, my last family .... I’d been to the speuter clinic by now ... my last baby .... the one we’d worked so hard to save ... my special baby .... I’ll never see him again after today. I screamed and cried and tried to scratch and bite as they put me in the carrier .... Opie came running, trying to climb in with me. Kerry started to cry. Barbara started to cry.
Kerry said, can’t she stay here with Opie too? Barbara’s face lit up. The new lady looked a bit mad. Barbara told her she had other kitties for adoption she’d just love. And they let me out of the carrier. Opie and I hid in the furthest back corner under the desk we could squeeze ourselves into. Vincent came over and told me it’d be ok. Kerry, who he called mom, hated to see families broken up. She’d do all possible to keep us together ..... forever and ever.
And so that’s how we came to be at Rikki’s Refuge. I’m so thankful to have been with my son, Opie, these last couple years, to watch him learn and to take over when Vincent passed over the Rainbow Bridge. We all wish Opie had had a lot more training from Vincent before Vincent had to leave, he was too young to go .... but sometimes we just don’t get to make all the decisions. He’d had a hard start at life ... his hoomans hadn’t taken him to the speuter clinic either. His body had been badly injured and though he had the best care in the world, 14 years was as long as he could hold out.
Click Vincent to read his life story
Will you help Opie fulfill his dream of caring for all the animals?
My poor baby really did start at the bottom of the barrel ..... and before he was a year old, he was asked to take on such tremendous responsibilities of caring for so many. Of spending every day, helping others .... of thinking of himself last ... of never having a few free minutes to sneak off and catch mice ..... would you .... could you .... donate ONE DOLLAR to help him today?
Thank you for your kind and generous donations: www.RikkisRefuge.org/Donate
Please VOTE today and EVERYDAY!!
The Shelter Challenge is a wonderful opportunity to help the animals with only a few clicks !!!! Totally FREE and EASY and QUICK .... turn your clicks into meds to prevent ticks !!!!
Please vote today and every day thru June 29 !!! Just go to this link
NUMS for YOU
you share with me, and I’ll share with you
try this wonderful vegan recipe today
Soup sounds good on a cold rainy day ....
Save a bowl for mom !!!
April 30 is
Would you consider ....
THANK YOU FOR HELPING OPIE TO CARY ON
VINCENT’S TRADITION OF SAVING SO MANY LIVES
... with your support we’re able to help so many into their new furrever happy homes .... and to give that life long home to those not quite so fortunate ... Thank you for your support
Without YOU none of us would be looking forward to Spring!!
Nelly and Vincent
Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RikkisRefuge\
Rikki’s Web Site: www.rikkisrefuge.org
Help the Animals: http://rikkisrefuge.org/donate.php