Venus’ life started simply enough as a stray kitten on a dairy farm in 2009. Her picture on a friend’s Facebook post inspired Christina to reach out to see if she was available for adoption — she was. Christina had no idea that day where life with Venus would take her. Venus’ rise to fame came when a mutual friend’s daughter posted her picture on Reddit, unbeknownst to Christina. It went viral. Christina spent the next few days following the skepticism over whether Venus’ photo was photoshopped. She decided to start a YouTube channel showing a video of Venus to prove she was real.
Having gotten involved in rescue in 2011, Christina saw that she could use Venus’ fame for good. “We added the additional platforms that have a huge following today,” she says. “I worked in the auto industry for 20 years and never saw myself being a large part of social media, but here we are. Because of Venus, I have been able to do so much more with animal rescue efforts and have involved my three children as well — rescuers in training.
Christina says that Venus inspires people because “she’s so boldly different and sends a message that it’s great to be different, that we all weren’t meant to be the same.” Christina has even received messages from kids and parents with vitiligo, port-wine stain birthmarks, cleft palates and other conditions that make them a target of ridicule and bullying.
“Venus herself has been praised as being the most gorgeous thing anyone has ever seen to people calling her ugly, freakish and evil,” Christina says. “Because she became ‘famous’ for her unusual looks — being different, she has sort of set a standard making being different cool. So many people have written to me about how they accept and own their ‘abnormal’ uniqueness because of Venus.”
One of Christina’s other cats, Roo, was born with deformed paws. “Fans love them for the very reasons others might ridicule them, so it gives people courage to stand a little taller,” she says.
Being the manager of a famous cat has its ups and downs. “It can be overwhelming for me,” says Christina, who has a very busy home life. “But when I see the messages about how she’s touched people deep down, in addition to the windows it opens for animal rescue, it gives me a purpose to keep it going.”
As for Venus, besides treats, her favorite thing is snuggling. “She’s a lap cat in every sense,” Christina says. “She’s a lover and will happily occupy anyone’s lap if mine isn’t available.” Although Christina is her favorite person, she has become close with cat sibling Roo, who “she helps bathe since he has trouble cleaning some parts of his head and face.” Venus has also become fond of online cat game apps as well as climbing cat trees and playing with feather toys. “But her all-time favorite activity is sitting at our slider door watching and listening to wildlife since we have a little nature preserve in our backyard,” Christina says.
“Our goals for the future are to satisfy a popular and frequent fan request to get a product line going of Venus merchandise as well as become much more active in the trap, neuter, return part of rescue,” Christina says. “Venus was born as a stray and was lucky enough to be adopted. Too many cats born outdoors don’t have that same luck, which has created a severe overpopulation issue where rescues and shelters are busting at the seams, having to turn people away that are finding kittens on the street. We want to do whatever we can to nip the problem at its core, which is to get stray colonies under control so rescues have a fighting chance at becoming no-kill shelters and rescues. We plan on recruiting volunteers to help us in our area but hope to expand those efforts around the globe and motivate people to just dedicate a day or two per month to trapping, so together we can really make a difference.”
She adds, “My personal dream and a big goal is to have enough money one day to put a fleet of mobile spay/neuter clinics on the road that can travel to severely overpopulated areas to perform free TNR. But for now, we will keep doing as much as we can to help.”
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Editor’s note: This article appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Catster magazine delivered straight to you!