Occasionally narcissistic and extremely skilled at getting what they want, cats would make excellent politicians. Hank, a handsome brown tabby from Virginia, took advantage of the species’ knack for politics by running for U.S. Senate in 2012. The cat wasn’t elected, but he did gain a tremendous amount of support from all over the world, affording him the opportunity to advance many important causes for feline-kind.
Catster recently caught up with Hank to see why he got started in politics, what he thinks are the most important issues facing cats in 2014, and whether he has plans to run for office again.
Born on the streets to a single mother, Hank has a backstory ready-made for the campaign trail. After scrapping for food and struggling for survival, he and his six siblings were eventually picked up by an area shelter and put on death row. The future did not look bright for this would-be political star; like so many cats, it seemed he would meet an untimely end. Fortunately, Animal Allies, a no-kill rescue group in Fairfax, came to the rescue.
“I was incredibly fortunate (as were my mom and brothers and sisters) to be rescued before being put down,” says Hank, in an exclusive Catster interview via his former campaign manager Matthew O’Leary. “We couldn’t all go to the same place, so we were split up to different foster homes, all of us just thankful to be alive.”
As Hank grew older, he discovered he had a penchant for politics. He was skeptical by nature, refusing to accept anything at face value, particularly when facts and data contradicted his long-held beliefs. He felt his adoptive parents’ view of the world was one-sided, and he wasn’t afraid to let them know how he felt.
“My parents are both liberal leaning, and they would read liberal books in bed before falling asleep,” Hank says. “As is standard with children and parents, I did not necessarily agree with their occasional one-sided view of the world, so I would tear up those books to let them know there was a bigger world out there (and to let them know it was time for breakfast in the morning).”
Hank’s first political campaign originated as a protest to the many campaign road signs he saw in the state of Virginia. He ran for a seat in the state Senate and got seven write-in votes. This bolstered Hank’s confidence and prepared him to take his next campaign more seriously.
“Once I realized that my early supporters were taking my campaign seriously, I knew it was time to do the same,” Hank says. “I decided to show the world that a politician can be eloquent, intelligent, bring people from all political backgrounds together, [look] handsome in a bow tie, and most importantly, [be] genuine.”
Being a cat in a traditionally human-dominated profession has given Hank a unique opportunity to speak out on issues related to feline welfare. As a former homeless kitten, he hopes to be a positive role model for other young cats struggling on the streets, a goal he has accomplished by raising more than $16,000 for animal rescue groups across the globe.
“By breaking the milk ceiling, I hope that other cats, dogs, and other animals decide it’s time to make a difference in their community and follow in my footsteps, just like Tuxedo Stan did in Canada last year,” Hank says.
Despite his current hiatus from the world of politics, Hank continues to speak on behalf of his fellow cats and cat people via his Facebook page. He admires other cats who have been successful in the workplace, but he is concerned about the welfare of all cats, no matter how lazy. In the coming year, Hank will continue to address issues that threaten feline-kind, such as homelessness, cruelty, and the harmful stereotype that cats are aloof and uncaring. He is also a strong advocate of spaying and neutering in addition to adoption and rescue.
“The Internet has brought us great attention from our people the likes which we haven’t seen since ancient Egypt,” Hank says. “We must use this power carefully, and do our best to show the humans that our combination of independence, charm, and the ability to always land on our feet offers a perfect guide to them on how to live their lives better, happier, and in peace with their brothers and sisters.”
As of this interview, Hank does not have plans to run for office again — but if he does, he knows he’ll have a tremendous amount of support. In the meantime, when Hank isn’t working to make the world a better place, he’s probably asleep in a sun puddle.
“I usually need my 18 hours a day of beauty rest just like [other cats] do, but just because I spend those other six hours working to make our country (and world) a better place doesn’t mean I’m better than them,” Hank says. “Unlike other animals, cats sleep longer so they can deliver a large burst of energy. While this can of course be used for running and hunting, it can also be used to affect a positive change in our world.”
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