KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — A Canadian woman has started a non-profit organisation to help rehome animals of senior or terminally ill pet owners.
Speaking to People, Angela Rafuse from Halifax, Nova Scotia, said she got the idea to set up My Grandfather’s Cat following comments from social media users who commented on her post about her grandfather’s cat Mackenzie.
Angela, 27, said her grandfather Byron lost his wife to a brain aneurysm in 2018 and was facing health issues himself, but he refused to go to the hospital because he was worried about who would care for his wife’s feisty elderly cat.
“That cat was all he had left of my grandmother, and he didn’t want Mackenzie to end up in a shelter,” Angela reportedly said.
Following Byron’s death in late 2019, Angela told her family she would take Mackenzie the cat, even though the feline never seemed to like her.
When the pandemic hit, the marketing executive had more time to bond with Mackenzie and during one of her bonding sessions with the pet, the cat batted Angela across the face and it was caught on video where she later posted on her TikTok.
The video received over 75,000 views in a matter of hours and had people asking for details on Mackenzie with Angela telling new fans how she started caring for Mackenzie after her grandfather died.
Many followers responded in the comments that their grandparents’ pets ended up in shelters after their relatives could no longer care for the animals.
“So I started trying to find resources for this, and I realised nothing existed for seniors to arrange homes for their pets. I couldn’t believe something like this didn’t exist,” Angela said .
The nonprofit helps seniors moving into assisted living and terminally ill people find new homes for their beloved pets, so the animals don’t end up in shelters.
She officially launched My Grandfather’s Cat on May 18, 2021 — her grandfather’s birthday.
More than 5,000 people visited the nonprofit’s website in its first days, and donations poured in.
“Our first donation was for US$500 (RM2,091), and I thought it was a mistake. We weren’t even a registered charity at that point, so I called him to make sure, and he said someone needs to be doing this,” she said.
My Grandfather’s Cat has since helped to rehome 25 cats and one dog.
“People apply, and we have volunteers handle each case. We vet everyone, but then the seniors themselves decide who is going to adopt their pet when they’re gone,” Angela said of the process.
Angela hopes to expand the organisation to serve the US soon.
“It is the most rewarding thing in the entire world to be doing this, and I know my grandfather would be proud,” she added.