Return to story
Vincent D. Cat became
BY JONAS BEALS
Vincent D. Cat, the spokespet for Rikki's Refuge Animal Sanctuary in Orange County, died Monday at the age of 14.
Vincent was one of the most famous residents of Orange, boasting more than 8,000 Facebook friends and a national network of feline aficionados who received regular updates about his life--and the lives of the dogs, cats, goats, birds, pigs and emus that share the 380-acre animal refuge.
Within the last year, Vincent--who had only three legs--won four (human) wedding dresses in an online Fancy Feast contest. He also came in second place in Bissell's Most Valuable Pet photo contest. His face will soon appear throughout the country on Bissell product boxes.
Not bad for a cat who came to the refuge after being struck by a car on the streets of Richmond. In addition to losing a leg and part of his tail in the accident, he lost his mother and siblings.
From that moment, he became an icon of resiliency and acceptance while raising awareness for animal rescue programs and Rikki's Refuge, in particular.
Vincent would make regular trips to school classrooms, where Rikki's Refuge board member Melissa Felts said children "would just swarm around him."
His natural gregariousness was perfect for the animal shelter, which used it to promote spay-neuter programs. Vincent's condition and his cheerful manner taught people to value their pets and to make the most of a challenging situation.
Felts said Vincent was born to be among people, spreading joy.
"He was very, very friendly," she said. "He was not at all nervous with crowds, or with strangers petting him. Everywhere we'd go, people wanted to see Vincent."
Vincent died on his birthday. Fortunately, his close friends were able to celebrate his achievement on Saturday.
Vincent was particularly fond of the icing on his cake, Felts said. It was a fitting moment for a cat that brought so much sweetness to so many people.
"It's a big hole in everybody's hearts," said Felts. "He was loved by everybody."
Jonas Beals: 540/368-5036