I was already a Crazy Cat Lady before Okey found me.
As much as I love cats, I have always been pretty staunch in sticking to my boundaries with taking in new pets. I had four cats when Okey showed up, which was already one over my limit. I had only stretched my boundaries for the fourth (Who) because my mother’s cat needed a home when she went into a nursing home.
I really did not need another cat.
To be truthful, I tried to ignore Okey’s presence at first. She appeared in the parking lot of my building one day, which was not highly unusual. I live in a downtown area where occasional transient feral cats travel by.
But Okey would not be ignored.
I don’t think she wanted to be noticed, but she was bright white in color, making a strong contrast to the drab colors of the parking lot.
And she was not transient. Unlike other cats I have seen in the area, she stuck around. I eventually discovered that she had made herself a bed under the air conditioning unit of the building behind mine.
Okey was not streetwise either, which was different from other cats I have seen around my building. It was pretty clear that she had been “dumped” as she was not very good at staying out of traffic and out of view.
After she nearly was crushed beneath the wheels of my truck twice, I decided to rescue her.
I set a trap near her “bed” beneath the AC unit. It took a couple of days, but she eventually went in the trap and was no longer a parking lot kitty. I named her Okey after the Okey Law Firm building where she was rescued.
When she came inside, I realized that she was not feral. She was open to human contact, and she loved having her head rubbed. She was very timid, though, and seemed fearful that I would hurt her.
I expected that I would try to find Okey a home other than mine, but when I took her in to be spayed, I realized that I had fallen in love with this little cat. Getting back into my truck alone while she was at the vet, a Dixie Chicks song on the radio brought me to tears.
“How long do you want to be loved? Is forever enough cuz I’m never going to give you up.”
It was clear to me at that point that Okey had found a home.
It also became clear to me that Okey had likely been abused before she found me. Her behavior had all the classic signs – desiring affection but fearing it; shrinking away at sudden movements; constant anxiety and hypervigilance; etc.
Knowing that child abuse and domestic violence often are present when animal abuse occurs, I was haunted by the knowledge that Okey’s previous home may have had other victims.
Many people had followed Okey’s story on Facebook, as I had shared with my friends about the newest creature in my life. In fact, a number of them had contributed funds for her vet care.
I knew that her story was powerful, and that others wanted to hear it.
Soon the Okey’s Promise: Art for a Cause project was born.
Okey’s Promise is a public art initiative to raise awareness about the connections between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence.
Most people are unaware of those connections. It is my mission, and my little cat’s legacy to make sure that EVERYONE becomes aware. My hope is that awareness will lead to action that will make ours a safer world for animals and for children and other vulnerable persons.
I can create great artworks that move people and open their eyes and hearts. I need help, though. I cannot do it alone.
I need the support of others to make it happen. Would you like to be one of Okey’s Promise Keepers?
You can read about my latest project and fund raising campaign here. Please share with others who you think may be interested,
More than everything, please help me share Okey’s story, so that we can eradicate animal abuse and it’s connected abuse to humans.
If doing that is crazy, who wants to be sane?
The video below was made to celebrate Okey’s Gotcha Day on October 30, 2011. it chronicles her journey from being a parking lot kitty to taking her place among my fabulous felines to being a worldwide sensation.
Please contact me if you would like to share Okey’s story and info about the new project on your blog or other media. I look forward to Okey’s story being told by many!