This is number five in a week-long series of interview with less adoptable pets inspired by the BlogPaws Be the Change challenge. All the cats I am interviewing need a home.
A few miles north of Orange, VA is an amazing place where the unwanted, the abused and the abandoned can find sanctuary. You’ll find cats, dogs, goats, rabbits, chickens, geese, emus and even a chukar. Rikki’s Refuge is a lot of things: a safe haven for wildlife, a place that offers humane education and spay and neuter support, a preserve and a lifelong shelter for creatures with nowhere else to go. But Rikki’s Refuge also adopts out animals, with and without disabilities.
The SpokesCat for Rikki’s Refuge is a very special guy by the name of Vincent, who arrived there about 10 years ago after a car accident left him with a badly damaged back end (he lost one hind leg, part of his tail, and the other leg was left twisted). Through all the rehabilitation, Vincent’s sweetness shone through, and ever since, he has devoted his life to traveling to schools, groups and events, spreading the word about spaying and neutering, and showing everyone he meets that love knows no limitations. When I was looking for an adoptable kitty from Rikki’s Refuge for an interview, I asked Vincent to pick one out for me. I love his choice: Pepper, a young girl kitty with a birth defect that has done nothing to dampen her spirit! “We are snuggle buddies at night, though she’s a bit active for me during the day!” Vincent told me.Since Vincent is a famous kitty on his own and he’s such an inspiration for cats and humans everywhere, I asked him to introduce Pepper himself. Here you go, Vincent!
Hello! My name’s Vincent D. Cat and I’m Rikki’s Refuge’s Official SpokesCat for the Differently Abled. I travel about and teach hoomans that love makes the world go round. It’s very important to love everybody, no matter how long their ears are or how many legs they have. On the inside we’re all the same. We’re just wearing the cloak of a hooman, a cat or a cow. Our wants and desires are exactly the same — to enjoy life, to be happy and to be loved.
My sisfur Pepper Kitten Face is one of the many differently abled kitties here at Rikki’s Refuge who’s ready for adoption and looking forward to her very own forever home. Donâ€™t get me wrong now, I love it here at Rikki’s and I’ll stay her for the rest of my natural life. I need a lot of special care that requires me to have hoomans in attendance and a very special doc who loves me too! When Pepper first arrived she had problems that required a lot of care. Now she’s doing great and with a few modifications could live happily forever in a regular home.
Thanks Vincent! Now Pepper, tell me how you came to Rikki’s Refuge, and how old you were at the time?
I joined the Rikki’s family back in May, five months ago. That might not seem like a long time to you, but it was about forever for me. I was about twelve weeks old when I was lucky enough to come to Rikki’s. My mom had been dumped for having “yet another litter of kittens.” I don’t understand how that happens when a trip to the Speuter Clinic solves that forever! A nice lady took us home. I had brofurs and sisfurs. We were all black and white, even mom.
Were your back legs the way they are from birth, or did something happen to you?
I had a birth defect. I was born with the joints on my back legs fused together and they sort of bend to the side. At first the hooman I was with didn’t notice that my hind legs were different. When I was a few weeks old she took me to her vet to see why my legs stuck out to the side and didnâ€™t bend like my brofur’s and sisfur’s. Her doctor was a doctor that Vincent’s mom knew and used back when she lived in the city. She knew all about Rikki’s Refuge and knew that differently abled kitties can have wonderful lives. She told the hooman who had my family not to kill me, but to see how things went and she was sure I could live at Rikki’s if I needed to. I was really glad that hooman took me to a nice understanding doc. I didn’t want to get killed just cuz my legs were different.
The hooman we were living with said I wouldn’t use the litterbox and I also had sores on my legs from scooting about so she took me back to the doc to kill me. The doc called Vincent’s mom and she said, yes I was very welcome at Rikki’s and she was sure my sores would heal and I’d build calluses as I got older. The hoomans at Rikkiâ€™s have a lot of experience with special needs kitties, and doggies and chickens and rabbits and guinea pigs and horses and all kinds of animals. They knew how to make sox for my legs so I wouldn’t get sores while calluses grew.
Are there certain things you have a harder time doing than other kitties?
I sure donâ€™t have trouble being one of the first to the food bowl in the morning!!!!
At first it was very hard for me to get to the litterbox. The hoomans didn’t know if I’d be able to make it or even know when I had to go or if I’d need help. But all that is functioning just fine! When I was little I just couldn’t climb over the edge of the box. Now that I’m getting to be a big girl I have no problem. Well, not much. I reach up with my hands and grab the side and sort of flip into the box!!! Since I canâ€™t stand up and dig right in the litterbox sometimes I get poopy on my legs or tail. I have to get a bath almost every day. But I’ve learned that water isn’t as scary as my mom told me!
I get around almost as fast as my friends. I kind of scoot, though I’m learning to stand up and sort of hop too. A lot of things may change as I grow. My best friend is Callie. Her hind legs are deformed too! She’s a manx and has a lot of other problems and needs help being able to potty. It’s harder for me to climb up kitty trees. That’s why they don’t trim my claws as much. I need that extra clinging power to really have fun!
Tell me a little bit about your life at Rikki’s Refuge.
It’s lots of fun! There are a lot of us. I live in the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center at Rikki’s Refuge. So I have a lot of fun. We have kitty doors that go out to a Day Room. That’s like a protected outdoor space. It has a fence, even on the roof!!! We can lie in the sun and see the different weather. That’s really nice too. I’d never seen a chicken when I came here. Now I’m used to them talking to me thru the fence, though I still get a little scared when a rooster crows loud right next to me. Lots of hoomans work and visit here so I get to play with them all the time too. I love sitting on laps. I love chasing the vacuum cleaner too. I think cleaning time is playtime.
I think that is a first — a cat who actually likes the vacuum cleaner! Tell me about some of your other favorite activities.
I love to play. Catnip is sooooo good and volunteer Catnip Candy makes these great sacs with organic nip we can play with and toss all over. I love lying in the sun, watching all the different kinds of animals. And I really love being with my friends. I love string pull too!! And feather jumper. And follow the red dot! That’s so cool when all of us charge from one side of the room to the other and all slide into each other!
If someone wanted to adopt you, what would they have to do that is different than with other kitties?
I have to have a pretty smooth slick area to get about on. I can’t live on carpet cuz my legs would get carpet burn and if I get sores it’s hard to heal cuz I don’t want to stop scooting about. I have vinyl and that’s purrfect. Can’t have bumps and lumps on the floor like thresholds that I could get hurt sliding over. And I can’t be near things with small openings in them. Like a basket with a really lose weave or wrought iron decorative table legs or anything. It’s easy for me to get my legs caught in things and since they don’t move well, I can’t get out on my own. I could be stuck and the circulation cut off if somebody wasn’t there to help me right away.
Also I can’t be left with string toys, like feather hangers or even like a sweatshirt with strings. I love them and I like to roll and play and they get tangled around my legs. So I need a hooman to play with when we use those kinds of toys.
String toys should always be put away anyhow. A lot of cats, like my roommate Binga, will eat them!
My hoomans also need to accept that my claws need to stay longer and pretty sharp so I can climb. I’d hate to have them trimmed short and then not be able to get on the couch or up a cat tree.
My hooman must be understanding and nice about cleaning up poop if I accidentally get some on my legs and smear it on the floor. And they have to give me warm bottom half baths! I don’t know what might change as I grow to my full body size, so they’ll have to be ready to grow and change with me.
What do you think would be the best part of finding a new home?
A home of my own? A real forever home? Oh my, that would be so wonderful. Where I was loved forever and ever no matter what! I’d have to have kitty friends, at least one and hopefully several, cuz they mean a lot to me to play and sleep with. I’d get so much one on one attention. I’d miss my friends at Rikki’s but it’d be so cool to have a forever home!
If you would like to know more about adopting Pepper, or any of her pals, visit the Rikki’s Refuge website.