Jim and his wife, Karen, started The Accidental Cattery, well... accidently.
“When we realized we couldn’t save every cat in the world,” said Karen, “we began saving those in our corner of it by providing vaccinations, emergency care and preventing future feral cat litters through TNR (trap/neuter/release). Before retiring, we had rescued and helped hundreds of cats.”
One rescue, Emme, had been “adopted” by a woman who witnessed the starving, pregnant cat begging door-to-door at her apartment complex. Disregarding the “No Pets” rule, the woman hid the expectant mom in her apartment allowing Emme to safely give birth to her litter.
Days later, the woman saw a baby squirrel fall from a tree. Unable to return it to the tree, she gave it to Emme who judiciously welcomed the squirrel, grooming and caring for it like one of her kittens. When he’d wander away from his ‘siblings’, Emme would lovingly reach over and gently pull him back to her. When the woman’s apartment was scheduled for an inspection, she took Emme and her “babies” to a veterinary clinic. The clinic knew of Jim and Karen’s rescue group so they phoned them. Jim and Karen brought the furry family home, having no idea that their act of kindness would bring them international fame!
“We named the little grey squirrel ‘Rocky,’ after the flying squirrel in the animated ‘The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show’ television series,” said Jim. “The oddest thing about Rocky is that he purred when we held him and rubbed his head. Curiously, I looked up purring on Wikipedia and discovered that rabbits, squirrels, guinea pigs, tapirs, ring-tailed lemurs, elephants, raccoons and gorillas also purr.”
Initially, Emme’s family was corralled in a dog kennel, until Rocky crawled out and up their walls. So, they were moved to the screened back porch, where Rocky enthusiastically and safely crawled up and down screens and brick walls.
“From Emme’s expression, it was obvious that she was unaccustomed to having a kitten able to perform this marvelous feat,” laughed Jim. “Soon, Rocky found ways to wiggle out of the screens to climb trees, so I fixed all the holes in the rafter area. He chattered his disapproval at me, and it wasn’t long before his natural instincts led him to chew his way out to freedom.”
At five months of age, Rocky left to sow his wild oats, despite the steady supply of food and nuts that were put out for him. Poor Emme sat on our porch pining for her “squ-itten” baby. When Rocky occasionally returned for a visit, Emme was thrilled to see him, rushing over and reaching out her paw to pull him to her. Seeing “mortal enemies” displaying love for each other was moving, said Jim. “We learned a lot about love from Emme and Rocky.”
Whatever happened to gentle Emme?
“After her kittens were weaned and she was spayed, her kindness was “Pay(ed) Forward” by a loving a family who adopted and cares for her as she did Rocky,” said Jim.
Whether Rocky considers himself a former kitten or “squi-tten” remains a mystery. Their story has gone viral into homes and hearts via the internet.
“I was surprised at the response to Rocky’s CNN news report,” admits Jim, “It’s been seen 12 million times on YouTube.”
View them on CNN at www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHT1nAX46dM&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Information on Jim’s series of “Emme and Rocky” children’s books: [email protected]
“As a child I had two red fox pups who ate with our dogs,” said Jim. “But at seven months the foxes reverted to their true nature and became aggressive. I also had two cuddly bobcat kittens, but it did not take long before they were too dangerous to have around. The goal with wild animals should always remain to release them to follow their instincts and live their lives naturally. Often, fostered wild animals’ kidneys suffer because they are not fed what their bodies need, resulting in shorter, unhealthy lives.” Jim urges animal lovers to adopt cats and dogs from rescue groups, “They have amazing, lovable pets available.”