We Built It...and They Came ...RappCats: A Labor of Love
Updated: Sep 28, 2020
Welcome back to The Adventures of Weisie & The RappCats!
Finally some cooler autumn weather! The leaves are changing, and the air feels different. It's the end of summer - a time of bounty and light - and the beginning of a more settled, homey time. The shorter days and waning light reminds me to treasure each moment.
RappCats has that effect on me too. Saying hello to new rescues every week, adjusting to our ever-changing population, and then saying sad/happy goodbye to cats I've bonded with reminds me to accept the inevitable ebb and flow of life.
It's not unusual for us volunteers to have our hearts tugged by a "special to us" cat. When that happens, we have to figure out how to keep our heart wide open, while also knowing we'll have to say goodbye. Accepting life on its own terms. Embracing uncertainty instead of fighting it, and cherishing what and who we love when we can. It's a precious lesson the cats give us.
Weiser cat, I think of you a lot this time of year. It's the season when, at the amazing age of 21, you started to slow down. Yet you definitely still had your unique, sometimes strange, and always endearing personality and quirks.
I love remembering them! It's one of life's gifts - our ability to look back and spend a minute in another time and place, with a loved one (that DEFINITELY includes pets). I hope you can do that too - maybe we overlap sometimes on reminiscing!
I was sprawled on the couch the other day (well, I do that most days!) and I remembered your own one-of-a-kind couch sprawl. I love still being able to see you lying there like the part weasel, part panther you were!
So today Weisie, I have newbies to introduce you to, and adoptions to celebrate!
And I'll also tell you the real story of how RappCats came to be.
OUR NEW RESCUES
Once in a while, you'll see a cat with a striking condition called heterochromia iridis,
and we're lucky enough to have one right now!
This pure white beauty would stand out even without her lovely eyes,
but this makes her even more special.
She is as friendly as gorgeous, and loves to be petted and to give head-butts!
She eagerly awaits her purr-fect adopter.
So you might think "Bean" is a strange name for a cat,
but not when you're found on Bean Hollow Road!
This lively young mama was a stray and had just given birth.
We've rescued and fostered her kittens,
and Bean's ready for a cushier life than roaming fields and highways.
Her markings are fabulous, and she'll hold a pleasant conversation with you to boot!
She's ready to go to her fur-ever home. She won't last long.
CELEBRATING OUR RECENT ADOPTIONS!
Still a kitten, Crystal was cute as a button!
We knew she would find her fur-ever home super fast, and we were right!
Isn't she gorgeous?
Crystal and her new Mom have a mutual admiration society going!
This is why we do what we do and why RappCats exists!
Everybody all together now...."awwwww"!
Aries was a big ole love bug.
He loved to sit on our laps and was content there until we had to put him down.
Aries had a quiet dignity about him. He and his sister (Miss Kitty, who is still with us and needs her fur-ever home!!) came to us after their owner passed away very suddenly.
You could tell Aries wanted nothing more than to be part of a family again.
We are so happy for him, and so grateful to his wonderful new adoptive family!
We could tell they were meant for each other, and Aries will have lots of love.
A LABOR OF LOVE:
A True Story of How RappCats Began
"Come on in," said the RappCats. "We have so much to share with you!"
“I was living on scraps at the county dump,” said Fawkes. “I was getting skinnier and weaker until RappCats rescued me.”
“I was begging for food at the fire station,” said Randy. “It was December and so cold. When a critter attacked me, I didn’t have the strength to fight back.”
“I saw that photo of you,” replied Fawkes. “You’re lucky you made it. You couldn’t even stand up at your food bowl, and your face — to be blunt — was half torn off!”.
“I know,” sighed Randy. “I don’t think I would have survived the winter. But RappCats trapped me, took me to the vet, and cleaned up my face. Then the volunteers hand fed me until I got strong enough to stand. I was so scared, but a “Cuddle Crew” member came every day to spend time with me.”
Randy and Fawkes are typical of the rescues we shelter and find fur-ever homes for here in Rappahannock County, Virginia. We’re a small but special place — both the county and the shelter. We pride ourselves on our natural beauty (the Appalachian trail meanders through our mountains), and on the community spirit and generosity of our people. Helping our neighbors is a way of life.
When you’re a community rooted in farming, you have great respect for the weather and the seasons. You realize how little we all are in this big world, and how vulnerable we each can be. We know that showing kindness, and sharing resources in times of need, can make or break families.
People here take good care of their animals. They depend on them for livelihoods, food, and companionship. Our animals take good care of us too — horses carry farmers as they herd cattle, dogs protect our chickens, and cats help keep barn mice under control. So, animals hold special places in our hearts. We won’t abide seeing them neglected or mistreated.
Yet until six years ago, Rappahannock County had no cat shelter. The only shelter was for dogs.There was no facility to house, feed, and find fur-ever homes for cats in need. But the time had come to change that.
A core group of citizens came together and did all the work necessary to form a nonprofit 501c3 cat rescue that would be completely no-kill. The easy part was the name: RappCats seemed purr-fect!
They volunteered time, and hit up friends for money. They formed a “family assistance program” and set up a phone line people could call for help with sick or injured cats. Seniors on fixed incomes were especially grateful for assistance.
The volunteers also helped trap homeless cats, then drove them to the vet for exams and medical care. They paid for food, shots, spaying and neutering.
People started bringing strays and abandoned cats to the volunteers. Sometimes whole litters were dropped off. These little guys sometimes had to be hand fed round the clock. It didn’t matter if the volunteer had to get up and go to work in the morning, it still had to be done.
Other volunteers became foster parents. They provided love and care in their own homes. They depended on word of mouth to find permanent homes. (Though plenty of times those cats lived with the volunteer the rest of the cat’s life.)
During these years, from about 2007 until 2014, many cats were helped and saved. But it wasn’t enough. Rappahannock needed a real shelter — a building to provide a clean, warm, safe place for all the homeless cats in the county. A building potential adopters could visit and look for a companion. We needed a group of people to make a major commitment of time and resources — even more than we already had.
Rappahannock County wasn’t in a position to fund a cat shelter. This was going to have to be totally volunteer and community driven. And so it was.
The team of volunteers found an old warehouse that would rent us space. We rehabbed it, creating our vision of a dream shelter for all the eventual residents. We knew it would be a no kill shelter — there was no question about that. But we wanted more than a typical shelter where cats are caged. We were committed to build a cage-free shelter - where cats could explore, climb, and look out windows at our beautiful countryside.
It was a big dream for this little county.
But so it began. People spread the word, and more people got involved. They donated whatever they could. For some, it was time. For others, it was labor. For many it was a modest donation. RappCats was under way!
Old blankets started pouring in, along with a surprising number of new, hand-knit ones for the cats to sleep on. Cat toys were left on the porch. Catnip was hung on the front door! Litter, food, boxes for the cats to play in, and even elaborate (and often well-used) cat scratching pads and trees were dropped off. The cats had to have soothing background music, so a radio appeared.
But of course lots more was required. The building needed to have rooms that were built just for cats. They had to have easily cleanable floors, and walls that let cats see through to adjoining rooms, but not wander into them. The building needed a separate room for any cat who was sick and contagious. An intake room was needed for new arrivals. After all, a cat can’t immediately be expected to make friends with unfamiliar cats! And a quiet space to recover from any medical procedures was a must-have.
All this work came from community volunteers. We received no county or government funds, yet were approved as the only privately operated animal facility in Rappahannock County licensed by the Virginia Office of Veterinary Services.
A group of local kids created a cat mural
for the outside of the building and had tons of fun doing it!
Today, RappCats is a thriving, stable part of our county. We continue to help residents, especially seniors. We respond to calls of abandoned or wild cats like Fawkes and Randy. We continue to foster kittens and cats. We also provide specialized hospice foster care.
We’ve survived through the efforts of many. We initially raised funds with yard sales, and then we grew more sophisticated and started holding two annual fundraisers.
The Griffen Tavern hosts a night each fall when the waiters all donate their tips to RappCats! We hold a winter fundraiser with a silent and live auction at a community member’s home. (Of course this year, with the pandemic, that’s out of the question, so our fund raising is taking a hit.)
Regular shifts of volunteers feed our cats, change litter boxes, give medicines, and take care of all the paperwork that goes along with running a shelter. They come in twice daily, every day, come rain, snow, or Virginia summers. We also have a “Cuddle Crew” who come in solely to nurture and socialize the cats. We’re always looking for more cuddlers!
We’ve been super busy this year. We built a large, two-level table and painted cats all over it. Our real cats seem to adore lounging and sleeping there! We newly painted our walls, put new caulk around windows (it’s an old building, this warehouse) added insulation for extra coziness.
Candace Clough designed and built a 10-foot tall “Cat Cubby Tree”! This fantastic tree is made of wire over wood, with recycled styrofoam blocks glued to the wire. Carved and shaped paper mache covers the styrofoam. Candace used animal safe putty, and stuck velcro on branches and near cubbies to give the cats extra climbing grip.
All the cats adore the tree and sleep, hide, and play in it. Finding a hidden treat in a cubby makes their day!
We’ve recently also gotten on board the social media train! We have a website, and list our cats on adoption boards like PetFinders and Adopt-A-Pet. Our Facebook page reached about 13,000 people in the last month. We’ve started this blog (which we thank you for reading and liking)!
We’ve started daily posts of the cats’ adventures on Twitter and Instagram. @RappCats often has witty and profound “chats” between our cats. They seem popular — we’ve had over 100,000 tweet impressions in 3 months! We began in June, and we’re having fun as we gather followers. Please join us!
We’ve experienced a record number of adoptions this year. We think it’s partly because the pandemic is making folks realize how important cat companions are to our well-being. We also believe that adopters like our cage-free facility, our emphasis on saving lives, and our honesty and integrity in dealing with adopters.
Well, Weisie, I hope you enjoyed meeting our newbies, celebrating our adoptions, and learning the RappCats story. Here's to all the special people who made RappCats a reality, and here's to all the special cats in our lives (and that would be every cat we ever met - of course!)
Meow for now! Kitty kisses...
RappCats relies entirely on private donations
from animal lovers like you.
We can't do what we do without your support.
Please send this blog to your friends & family, and post it on social media so others will understand our work, and can choose to support RappCats.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Donations in the form of checks and money orders are also accepted and can be sent to:
RappCats P.O. Box 307 Washington, VA 22747
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Always log into Amazon via smile.amazon.com to be sure your purchases count!
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These small amounts add up, and make a difference to our cats!