My Cat and His Story

My cat, like all cats, was an awesome cat. I could regale you all for hours with silly little stories about how he'd play with his toys, how he'd do wonderful cat-things like knocking items off tables, lounging on important papers, and sleeping upwards of 37 hours a day - all while looking regal, majestic, and fully in charge of the household. I could inundate you with gigs of pictures of my cat as well - thousands of images, in most of which he looks perturbed or upset for some reason, but also many where he's far more adorable than any human babies I've seen.

I could do all that, but I won't. Instead, I want to share why my cat was special to me. I know it's not as thrilling as the above, but I promise it will be worthwhile in the end. You see, I am a lottery-winner in the game of life, because my cat was Hank for Senate. (Haven't heard of him? It's okay, I forgive you - go look him up, we'll wait here for you.

...okay, stop looking at cute kitty pictures on the internet and come back already, sheesh.) Hank was an amazing Maine Coon cat that followed the Maine Coon code - stubborn, immensely loyal and loving, and very much interested in attention from everyone. Hank did all the regular cat stuff that us cat owners love - he was cute, funny, friendly, a bit of a mean drunk on catnip, cuddly, loving, loyal, and rarely aloof. But more than that all, Hank saved lives.

Hank ran for Virginia Senate in 2011 as a joke, mostly - we printed up a few yard signs, showed a few people the pics, and wrote him in. So did a handful of others, some we barely knew. So, we decided to run him for the vacated US Senate seat in Virginia in 2012. When Hank's press release (yes, we really sent out press releases to the press) hit the wire (yes, we were interviewed by Associated Press about our cat), Hank's campaign blew up. His Facebook page had more followers than the Democratic challenger. He was welcomed to the campaign by the Republican challenger. He was mentioned on The Tonight Show three or four times. We got calls from relatives all over the country telling us he was on NPR, CNN, Time, Today, and on and on.

Once his campaign hit the media, we decided to use it to help other critters in need. Hank took in campaign "contributions" in exchange for Hank merchandise (I'm wearing a t-shirt of his today while writing this!). Hank's campaign contributions went to help rescue groups both in Virginia and across the globe. We held campaign events, mailed out thousands of bumper stickers, t-shirts, mugs, yard signs, and more. Hank had a congressional softball team. Hank had a copyright lawyer. Hank spent 9 months on the 'campaign trail', and raised well over $16,000 donated to animal rescue groups to help save more cats, dogs, and animals in dire need. Hank also got around 6,000 votes and placed 3rd in the election, but his legacy far exceeds his footnote in historical texts.

Hank was a rescue himself - he was saved just prior to being put down, with his siblings in an animal shelter that simply can't keep up with demand. If the group that rescued him, Animal Allies, hadn't received their donations from loyal supporters, Hank would've never existed in the capacity that the world got to experience him in. But for the convictions of just a few kind souls, and some extra spare change, Hank's wonderful story would've never happened. Because of that, someone giving just a little, Hank was able to give so much, and save hundreds, if not thousands, of animals across the globe. In turn, those lives saved have provided years of unconditional love (not to mention the previously touched-upon stares of contempt, sitting on important papers, and early morning wake-up calls) to families, to children, men and women. Those pets saved quite possibly saved their human owners too - and so it continues on, snowballing beyond our wildest comprehension.

When we ignore the pleas of the innocent and needy, the world becomes a dark place. With the smallest deed - helping a poor stray with a meal, checking the local bulletin boards for animals missing in your neighborhood, volunteering at your local animal shelter or rescue group for a few hours a week - you are quite possibly giving someone, somewhere, the next Hank. And for that, the love in my heart is unending for you and all your pets. The smallest act of kindness can create an unimaginable depth of love for not only our animals, but each other, our community, and our planet as a whole. Do what you can to make this world better - it's what Hank did, and it's what he would want.