It’s often said that everything happens for a reason. The reason behind a cat-themed conference attended by some 10,000 people in Los Angeles is manifold: to further cats’ place in our culture, to bring cat-loving humans together, to find homes for rescue cats, and to let celebrity cats such as Lil BUB spread their joy. Yet over the weekend at CatConLA, serendipity struck in an unlikely place as Catster editors helped a group of people rescue an injured tabby found outside a derelict downtown warehouse near the conference.
Here is the story of the cat and the humans who helped him.
I attended the inaugural CatConLA, a cavalcade of feline-themed awesomeness in Los Angeles, with Catster senior editor Keith Bowers and our colleagues from Catster print magazine, Anastasia, Mel, and Annie. Keith had a lot of fun being the MC for the whole weekend in addition to giving his own presentation. (He’ll tell you all about that in his post about CatCon.)
Mel and I walked back from lunch Saturday at a nearby cafe when we saw a small group of people huddled by the corner of the abandoned warehouse. As we approached, we saw they were surrounding a bedraggled tabby.
The cat seemed friendly but a little nervous at all the attention. His ears were ragged and bloody, but the worst thing was that his tail was stripped of fur and looked bloody and painful.
Jeff Chen — clearly a dedicated cat guy — petted the cat and talked softly to him. He was attending CatCon with his wife, Monica, who had already gone back to the venue (a place called the Reef) to get help. We introduced ourselves to cousins Emma and Jenna as well as Jenna’s mom, Dianna, then proceeded to rope them into the rescue effort. Emma carried a big camera, so we designated her our official photographer for the day.
Here’s the kitty, just enjoying the sun. What you can’t see here is his terribly torn-up tail.
We raced to the Reef to find the people with FixNation, who were a partner for the weekend event and also the beneficiaries (they will receive $1 from each ticket sale, as well as a portion of the net proceeds, which is awesome). Monica had already grabbed practice manager William Oglesby, who borrowed a crate from the adoption booth before we all returned to the cat.
While we were gone, the cat had rejected the notion of waiting in a cardboard box for his rescue, so he broke out of the box (giving Jeff a deep scratch on one hand) and was on the move. Luckily, plenty of humans were present to help catch him.
William laid out some wet food, but the cat didn’t respond. He bolted for some bushes down the street, and we thought we’d lost him. As it turns out, he’d wriggled through a gap in a concrete wall into a small courtyard. Dianna directed the movements of the rescue team, covering the back entrance while William hopped over the wall.
We heard mutterings and rustlings and mews. Clearly William was working his cat-whispering skills. We heard a flurry of motion and then the sound of the cat carrier snapping closed. The cat was safe!
William unlocked the door and walked out with the carrier containing the kitty. We were all thrilled.
Meanwhile, the tabby settled down and relaxed and began eating all the food in the carrier. He seemed pretty unconcerned about everything. He was definitely not feral, although William said he might live with a human in one of the homeless encampments dotted around downtown L.A. He also might be lost — or dumped. But FixNation will do its best to get him back to his owner, if he has one, or find him a new home.
Jeff suggested Scrappy, which is a great name. We also thought of naming the cat William, after our FixNation rescuer. But it seemed apt to give the cat a name connected to the day’s gathering of cat people, and so … the little guy’s name is Reef for now.
Emma sums up what we were all thinking: “My CatCon experience turned out to be full of purpose and realization of just how powerful a concentrated group of cat-lovers can be in making a difference in the life of a cat in need. My heart is still touched by everyone’s efforts and success yesterday!”
We’ll know more about Reef on Wednesday, when FixNation’s vet examines him. William wasn’t sure whether Reef would keep his tail, but look at this video and see how happy he is!
— FixNation (@FixNation) June 7, 2015
A big, big, BIG thank you to everyone who helped rescue Reef the cat
Our undying thanks go to everyone involved in getting Reef to safety. Emma is on Instagram, as is Jenna, so visit them to see more cat photos and say hi. Tell them Catster sent you. Monica also invites you to stop by her Instagram page and see lots more of her and Jeff’s three cats at their Marceline, Memow, & B-Mo Instagram page. (And we hope Jeff doesn’t get cat scratch fever from his tussle with Reef!)
About Vicky Walker: Prickly British grammar nerd with a soft center. Obsessed with old people, history, and the contents of the litter box. Endlessly patient wrangler of two cats, one of whom may or may not be indoor-outdoor — don’t be mad. Executive editor at Catster and Dogster.
Do you know of a rescue hero — cat, human, or group — we should profile on Catster? Write us at email@example.com.