It was a dark and stormy night … really, it was. During a Maryland thunderstorm in late September 2018, a 10- to 12-week-old kitten showed up at a front door in search of a home. The family wasn’t there, but their grandmother was watching the house while they were away. She began feeding the little guy, who was tiny and dirty and appeared to be deaf.
The friendly grandmother caring for him then moved across country and the family who lived in the house couldn’t keep him. That’s when Laura Meadows volunteered to take in the kitten, who would eventually be named Pip. There was just one problem: She hadn’t consulted her family.
“There were four options at hand,” says Emily Meadows, Laura’s sister and now Pip’s human. “Pip, who at this point had not even been named, could stay with Laura in North Ocean Pines, stay with our dad in South Ocean Pines, go to my house in Ocean City or be taken to the Humane Society.”
The Humane Society was full; Laura’s three other cats were none too pleased about Pip’s presence; the second option presented a problem in that Pip had a habit of tripping people, which made it unsafe for Laura’s 85-year-old grandfather in the house. So Emily’s house it was!
Pip’s new life
First, Pip had a veterinary checkup. As it turns out, he wasn’t deaf — after his filthy ears were cleaned, his hearing improved. Warm compresses also helped clean up his eyes.
From there, it was a matter of getting the two resident cats, Natty and Mowgli, used to a new little brother. That was an adjustment for everyone, as Pip turned out to have a mischievous streak and a ton of extra energy.
“If Natty and Mowgli were sleeping soundly, he would quickly wake them up by jumping on their heads,” Emily says. “If a window was open, Pip was climbing the screen. If a cup of water was left unattended, it was soon knocked over. If Pip woke up before us in the morning, he would jump on the bedside table and make sure we were up, too. He didn’t like to use the litter box, and instead went in our house plants. It was Pip’s world, we were just living in it.”
To burn off some of that energy, and to give the other cats a break, Emily put Natty’s old harness on Pip to take him for a walk. It was the perfect solution. Pip loved the great outdoors so much that soon they ventured to the beach, where he loved digging, hiding under lounge chairs and napping in the sun — he was right at home.
“Then one day the tide was super low, and the waves were only an inch or two tall, so we let Pip explore the water. He felt his first wave and it didn’t bother him at all,” Emily says. “Then we put him on a boogie board for the first time. He caught a little wave and stayed on the board! When the board hit the shore, he hopped off and just walked along the beach like everything was normal. That’s when we knew that Pip was a very special cat.”
Soon Emily discovered that Pip stopped tearing up the house after his adventures. He not only adjusted to life on a leash, but he travels well in cars and even flew all the way to Poland, where his human dad (Emily’s husband) hails from.
Everyone loves Pip
Since nothing seems to ruffle him, Pip has proved himself to be quite the feline ambassador. His antics have attracted a large following. Emily and her husband have started fostering kittens, but Pip also uses his growing celebrity status to help out humans in need.
“Pre-COVID Pip would spend three to five days a week visiting local nursing homes, schools or places like EasterSeals or Worcester County Developmental Center. If we had foster kittens that were well-behaved we would sometimes bring them, too.”
Pip also has plush toys made to look like him, and for every one sold another gets donated. “One of Pip’s biggest projects is the Little Pip Project, where we visit places like nursing homes or centers for people with disabilities, and Pip gets to spend the day with them, and they all get a Pip Plush!”
Pip’s influence continues to grow and inspire. He has a line of books out called Pip’s Guide to …, an active social media presence, a morning show and a line of Pip-themed merchandise on his website. Pip also keeps in touch with his fans via the Pip Pen Pal Project.
Although COVID has halted Pip’s personal appearances, it’s through these other avenues that he continues to help humans and cats alike. When the pandemic is over, Emily expects him to go back to high-fiving his fans.
“In a pre/post pandemic world we were/will be going back to our meet and greet schedule where Pip goes every night of the summer to the Ocean Gallery on the Ocean City Boardwalk,” Emily says. “He has a little spot he struts right up to, and kids of all ages come and ask him for a high-five. He gives out high-fives for as long as he wants.”