It kind of started as a tiny person who’s best friend and only sibling was a cat. At age 3, Nunu (Nunoo, the sound I believed a cat made) was my playmate and companion. There were a few more cats in my early childhood that I loved but the love of my life came when I was about 6 years old.
Her name was Tuppie, short for twopence because she had 2 white spots on her chest and belly. She was otherwise totally black and fluffy. We were inseparable until
she died when I was about 17. Something that I never got over.
The next cat in my life was Katoot, a kitten that had the power to clear a room with her deadly farts. This improved after a fresh meat diet. She was a weirdo though and my mum and I loved her just the same.
My next long term cat came when I had flown the coup. A flat in Sydney that I rented came with a cat that just wandered in and gave birth in my wardrobe. Her name was Pudda and she moved up to Brisbane with me when I got my transfer. Her kittens were homed in Sydney. Pudda moved many times with me over the years and sadly went missing whilst being cared for by a friend more than 10 years after I got her.
The next kitties in my life were rescues that were homed and some that stayed. My daughter was born with a cat guardian who watched her closely if I needed to shower. This was a cat that insisted on sleeping on my pregnant belly.
The famous Charlie, a big Buffy street cat, became a huge member of the family when my daughter was about 2. He lived to 22 years of age. He became the Mayor of Paddington when we had the Pussies Galore gift shop and rescue which I opened in 1998. We had the shop for 9 years.
My elderly mum, my daughter and a handful of cats then moved into the Pussies Galore Rescue Rancho. The rancho was purpose built with enclosures and lots of space for cats. I worked part time for RSPCA QLD for 6 years whilst caring for my mum and surviving a teenager. I was able to take my bottle fed kittens to work if need be. Many cats and kittens were rescued and re-homed through Pussies Galore Rescue over the 20 or so years before the Cat Cuddle Cafe opened. Most of them were cared for by me with only a few foster carers on hand throughout that time.
A terrible injury during a rescue operation, hospitalised my for 2 weeks. I was incapacitated for many months and unable to return to the RSPCA. During my convalescence, I dreamed up the op shop idea. The Animal Rescue Support Network op shop opened in 2012. It was designed to raise money for the expensive hobby of rescuing cats and networking other rescue groups to also use the shop to raise money for their causes.
I lost my beautiful mum in 2014.
Cat cafe’s had become a thing in Taiwan and Japan. Before I opened the op shop I tried to find out about opening one here in Brisbane. The council were not keen on the idea. In 2015 I was able to convince the council that cat germs would not be served with the coffee and cakes and we were on the path to starting the Cat Cuddle Cafe. Actually, the council were fantastic with advice and ideas for set up. I threw my entire life’s savings, a small inheritance and half of my house into the project and the Cat Cuddle Cafe opened in August 2015. The CCC became bigger than I had ever imagined, requiring an army to run it. We homed over 200 cats in the first year open (its about 450 now). The CCC employs 12 paid staff and has about 60 volunteers on the books. Right now we have way over 100 cats in care (we are too scared to count as we are over our sensible management quota).
In rescue, saying no to cats in need is the hardest thing to do. Even if we had enough foster homes to take in more animals, money and time limit being able to manage it all. The kitties keep pouring in and the finger in the dyke is insufficient in stemming the unwanted litters.
My passion is to change things by education and lobbying for better animal laws. I pray I can get there and make a difference in a sustainable way. My goal is to retire in 6 years so I had best get cracking.