From Rags To Riches


Written by Henry’s rescuer, Danica Potgieter, with Caryn Allen and Yvonne Zwiegelaar 

It started back in 2013, when we noticed a stray cat in our neighbourhood. We suspect people had abandoned him when they moved. He was a pretty noisy fellow, meowing throughout the night (which we later discovered was for the ‘ladies’ from next door). He pursued them with vigour and, while our neighbours tried all sorts of ways to catch him, he proved too quick for them, fleeing before he got caught. As a result of him being such a ‘ladies’ man’, he got into a lot of scraps with the other male cats. 

Rescuing Henry

As winter approached, we felt really sorry for him, especially on rainy days. One day I just decided: enough is enough. I would coax him with food until he was used to us, and then we could take him to Lucky Lucy Foundation (LLF) near Cape Town. It took time as he was quite skittish, but, after a couple of weeks of leaving food for him, one afternoon I simply sat down next to him on the steps and just sat there, unmoving.

He sussed me out for a while, looking at me and then looking the other way. It was something I’ll never forget – the sun was setting and it was a beautiful afternoon. I held out my hand (kinda like you do with dogs, so they can smell you) and he calmly pushed his little head into my hand. I was so surprised – that’s when I knew, we’d gotten through to him; he trusted us. From then on, he was constantly at our house, waiting patiently when we came home, and, because he was always getting into battles, my mom often had to patch him up! We’d gladly have kept him if not for our dogs, who are not cat lovers at all.

The day came and we borrowed a cat travelling crate from a friend and lured him in with some yummy food. The poor guy was NOT HAPPY – he hissed and scratched until we eventually got him to the LLF angels. He was so afraid – shell-shocked really – and just hissed and moaned. It was a bittersweet moment as we knew we’d done the right thing, but it was hard as my mom and I had grown very fond of him.

We went to visit him a couple of times and were kept updated by LLF. We’re overjoyed that he found a good home, knowing he’s having the best time lounging around. We hope his old years will be his best years. I must say, we’ve never done something like this before, yet knowing we’ve given this boy a second chance at a happy life is the best feeling in the world! 

Caryn Allan, treasurer and board member of Lucky Lucy Foundation

Henry entered the shelter on 25 October 2014, and was tested (for FeLV and FIV), sterilised, vaccinated, and microchipped. He spent the first three to four months hiding in the back storeroom of the cattery behind boxes, hissing and growling at everyone. We thought he may be feral and not rehomeable, but that all changed when we moved him to our ‘Special Needs and Retirees’ camp. There he became our much-respected ‘Aged Alpha’ and the gardeners working for the cattery gardens landscaper affectionately called him ‘Madala’. He greeted everyone at the gate and became a total lovebug. The winter was really tough on his old bones and he spent his time on one of the magnetic beds donated by Holistic Vet. He was homed from our Facebook ‘thank you’ post for the bed and our beloved old boy has landed himself the ‘purrfect’ home.

Yvonne Zwiegelaar, Henry’s new owner

I really love golden oldies and, to me, it is so sad that they are always overlooked in favour of kittens when they still have so much to offer. Last year, we adopted a 20-year-old cat and, even though she was only with us for a short while, she really blessed our lives and will never be forgotten. From the moment Maggie passed on, I knew I wanted to take in another senior kitty. I perused all the shelter pages and had done a few enquiries but no one stood out for me. Then I saw the post on the LLF page featuring Madala, saying he wasn’t coping with the cold winter. They spoke of him as the ‘king of cats’ and you could tell just by looking at his picture that he was a cat with a big ‘purrsonality’.

Because I live on the other side of Cape Town to LLF, it was a bit far to pop in first just to see if I liked him, so I trusted the universe that he was the cat for me and just went out to collect him once the home check was done. My heart melted when I saw him for the first time, lying and getting belly rubs from his many admirers. I sat next to him and felt a connection straight away. It was as if he knew I was his new mom. I’d mentally prepared myself for an hour of meowing on the way home but he just curled up in the cat box and went to sleep.

I would usually have introduced a new cat much slower into my household but I sensed he would be fine with my fur family of two cats and five dogs. And he was. We wanted a new name for him; Henry means ‘ruler of the home’ and it suits him perfectly. While my other two cats are very much daddy’s girls, Henry is definitely a mommy’s boy. He loves sitting next to me on the couch and kneading my tummy for hours, almost going into a trance. He’s very arthritic so he enjoys lying around in the sunshine on his magnetic bed; he’s really such an easy kitty. Supplements ease his joints, and his coat is looking great. He’s roughly 14 years old and I hope he will still be blessed with many healthy years with us. Thank you to Lucky Lucy Foundation for entrusting me with your special boy.