Happy 67: Street Cats to Lap Cats

I've been around cats my entire life. From my Grandma's (Tiger), to several of my family's (Cricket, Spanky, Lulu and Mittens) now I finally have 2 of my own. My wife, Adrienne, always wanted cats growing up, but couldn't have them due to her brothers allergies. I myself am allergic to cats, but as long as I don't rub my eyes after petting them, I'm usually okay. 

In 2010, Adrienne rescued our first cat from a rough East Los Angeles park during a work event. He was hustling everyone there for food, going from BBQ to Quinceañera until someone caved and gave him a handout. His original name was "Mr. Pringles" and according to the Parks & Rec employees, he had been there for a month or so, but refused calling Animal Control for fear he wouldn't live much longer after that. And so, on that Saturday afternoon, I received a call from Adrienne "Blake...there's this cat I came across at the park today. And, well...he's in my car." What was I to say at that point? Of course we were about to welcome a new member of our family...our first "son." As soon as Adrienne came home with this black & white "Big Boy" (as our vet likes to call him), he immediately jumped up on the couch and went to sleep. His friendliness, charming personality, and incredible level of trust reminded me of the cats we came across in Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires several years ago, and so I named him "Recoleta." 

Fast forward to 2012 and I got another call. This time Adrienne told me of a heroic tale witnessing a gray kitten dart across a busy Downtown Los Angeles intersection, then landing squarely into a storm drain outside her office. She and a co-worker lifted up the man hole cover, descended into the storm drain, and rescued this little gray ball of fur. "Can you meet me at Beverly Oaks Animal hospital?" So I jumped into the car and made my way over to the vet that evening after work. We scurry into an examination office and I hear a faint meow coming down the hall and the moment the veterinarian brought her in, I said "Oh, we have to keep her." We learned she was covered in fleas and the vet said if we didn't intervene, she would've lost her eye and likely would've been eaten alive by fleas. We were so relieved her life was saved, but it took hand feeding with a syringe over several days as she was barely a month old. Our second concern was our "Big Boy," Recoleta, would accept her into the house hold. We kept them separated for about a week, until the "big reveal" where they met for the first time and it couldn't have gone better. This "Little Gray Girl" we decided to name "Ziba," which means "beauty" in Farsi.

Last year a friend of ours from Buenos Aires, Argentina was going back to visit for the first time since moving from there as a little boy. I asked him to check on the cats in Recoleta Cemetery. During the trip he let me know they were indeed still there. At that moment I asked myself "If not now, when?" There are no coincidences, and I was tired of waiting, wondering, and not acting. We talked it over and decided we needed to know more about these cats, how they're looked after and taken care of, and what could we do to help. I did my research online and came across some amazing people who visited Recoleta Cemetery in 2011 and evacuated 6 cats to the US for adoption. Over the next few months our friendly emails led to me deciding to go back and find out as much as I could. 4 months ago in May, we did just that, and what we found was extraordinary... 

Author: Blake

Photographer: Blake

A Message from Blake: 

Earlier this month we launched a Kickstarter towards telling this story through a documentary film and give the remaining cats in Recoleta Cemetery the life they deserve. Every day we move closer to our goal, but we're running out of time! Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing approach to crowd funding, and we must hit our goal by midnight on Thursday, October 2nd or we don't receive a dime. Thank you for reading and giving us the chance! 

Have your own rescue story to share? Email me seekingsheltercomic at gmail dot com!