By Melinda Sheckells | @melindasheckells
Abby, a Grey Persian age 11, and Athena, a Domestic Shorthair Tabby, maybe age 7, are the cat’s meow, literally!
Their mama Rebecca is a licensed veterinary technologist in Nevada and is passionate about animal health and welfare. But these sweet girls aren’t just cute, they are mental health advocates, along with their mama, providing valuable emotional support to both her and all the people they encounter.
Their favorite hashtag? Most definitely #who.rescued.who.
In this exclusive interview, we chat about navigating the world with special needs, treats and tricks, international travel and overcoming adversities with love and kindness.
Where are you from originally?
Abby: Well, I have quite an interesting story. My mama moved to Spain with her family in 2011 and was looking to rent a house. One of the owners of a house they were interested in had several Persian kitties just like me. They didn’t speak Spanish, and the owner didn’t speak English, so they had difficulty communicating, but she could tell my mama was in awe of her kitties mostly because she had never seen one before. They ended up renting the house, and a month or so later the owner came over for a visit and with her was baby me!
My family was unsure what to do as they did not plan on owning a cat but accepted me into their home with loving arms. In fact, mama wasn’t even a cat person at this time. Can you believe that? I weighed only a couple pounds, and no one could deny that I was super adorable. Mama quickly fell in love and decided she would rescue kitties in the future. I changed my mama’s view on cats, and for that she will be forever grateful.
Athena: I was living on the cold, snowy streets of Brooklyn when I was spotted by a rescue group. I was underweight and scared. The rescue eventually was able to catch me, although I was quite the escape artist, and it took a couple tries. The rescue was in need of a foster for me, and my mama decided she had the space to welcome me into her home.
She was in college at the time studying veterinary technology and already had her hands full with school and caring for her many other animals. Mama thought I would be a short-term foster because I quickly began to love and trust humans, but she was wrong. She had been fostering me for about 6 months already when she decided she was too attached to my adorable face and caring, silly personality to ever let me go. I had found my forever home!
Single and ready to mingle?
Abby: Nah, I’m a strong, independent woman and love myself way too much to give another my valuable, most precious attention. Maybe if I were to meet a prince and could sit on a throne and wear a crown.
Athena: Oh, yes, I love meeting new people! Can I have more human relationships? I have enough interaction with other animals. I have three annoying sisters and an obnoxious brother. No more, please!
What’s the story behind your name?
Abby: Well, at first my mama’s younger sister wanted to care for me but quickly realized she was not ready for the huge responsibility of owning a pet. I remember my mama and her sister laying in bed Googling cute names for cats. Since I was my auntie’s cat at the time, she decided to name me Abby.
In the beginning, mama wasn’t sure if it was the right name, but she now finds it quite fitting because crabby rhymes with Abby. Crabby Abby! I also have many other nicknames: Abbycakes, Abbs, Abigail, Scrunch Face, Ms. Grumps A Lot, Abu Dhabi and My Precious (my mama always thought the name Smeagol was cute).
Athena: My name is of Greek origin. The Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare. I was named by the rescue. My name is quite fitting because I am a warrior as I have endured a lot of distress from chronic medical issues that my mama and many veterinary specialists try their hardest to treat.
After all that I have been through, I remain the sweetest, most loving cat that my mama has ever met (and she’s met a lot of cats!). I also have many other nicknames: Tina, Teenie Weenie, Teeniewinkles and Teen Teen.
What’s your favorite outfit?
Abby: I love wearing my crown. I hate when Mom dresses me up in basic outfits like jean jackets—so last season.
Athena: Well, I’ve gained a little weight recently. It’s a side effect of my doctor requiring me to take steroids long-term, but, apparently it’s for my own benefit. How’d you like pills shoved down your throat (eye roll)? Well, that’s sort of my fault because I won’t eat them even if it’s hidden in something delicious. People say I’m quite stubborn. Anyways, I’m a little self-conscious of my belly region! Maybe, I’d look good in a corset? Hmmm.
Biggest pet peeve?
Abby: Don’t you dare touch my belly! Oh you think you can touch it, huh? Go ahead, do it! There’s a 50/50 chance you’ll survive!
Athena: When Mom administers my serum injections biweekly. She shakes around the Greenies container and tricks me to come downstairs only to realize she’s about to stick me with a needle. At least I get my favorite treats afterwards.
Favorite place to sleep?
Abby: Somewhere quiet—but there are not that many peaceful spots in this house with all my obnoxious siblings. I go wherever they aren’t. I have about eight of my own beds—ridiculous right? I should have way more!
Athena: I like to sleep on Mama’s belly. But no, I don’t lay down face to face, it’s more like butt to face! Mom will pick me up and turn me around, but guess what?! I just turn back again. I could do this all day! Jokes on Mom!
We have heard you have overcome some adversities … how has that made you a stronger feline?
Abby: I have a genetic disorder that is rare in felines. It’s called Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Basically, over the span of a couple years, the body attacks the photoreceptor cells (the rods and cones), and it has robbed me of my vision. I’m completely blind and have been for several years. The great news is that I have adapted like no other! In fact, I’ve adapted so well that 80% of people don’t believe me. In fact, I quite like being blind because my silly mom feels sorry for me so I get away with all sorts of shenanigans.
Athena: I suffer from chronic ear inflammation and infections of an unknown origin. It has caused me to have vestibular symptoms, meaning that I can’t stand without falling over. I have experienced involuntary rapid eye movements and Horner’s Syndrome, which occurs due to nerve damage in the middle ear. Mom knows when I’m having a flare-up because I will begin to open-mouth breath from the discomfort of losing my balance. I have had a CT scan and ear surgery and been to the neurologist, internal medicine specialist, ophthalmologist, allergist and GP multiple times.
It’s still a mystery as to why I continue to have flare-ups with extensive treatment. I take several pills and require a serum injection biweekly. As a special-needs kitty, I receive lots of love, support and attention. Through this, I’ve discovered how strong and resilient I am. I truly am one of a kind! I am here to speak for all kitties who suffer from chronic conditions. I know how tough it can be, but I 100% believe I will get through this.
What do you do when no one is looking?
Abby: Don’t tell Mom, but my favorite thing to do is scratch her new, expensive furniture. She still thinks it’s my sister! Priceless.
Athena: My mom keeps me locked indoors unless I’m on a leash. What does she think I am, a dog? She says it’s too dangerous to be outside alone. I’m around 7 years old, which is like 40 in cat years. I’m almost double her age! She’s way too protective. Geez, Mom, a little space.
Favorite animal charity?
Athena: Abby and I both agree that our favorite animal rescue is Mutt Misfits (muttmisfits.com) located in Oklahoma City. They are a noble rescue that is dedicated to rescuing unwanted, abused and homeless special-needs animals. Mom says her next rescue will be from Mutt Misfits because rehoming special-needs animals is not an easy task!
Abby: As for local rescues, our favorite is Hearts Alive Animal Village. They are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and work hard to rehome many local animals in need of love and care.
Best part about being a Las Vegas cat?
Abby: Definitely the weather. I love the clear sky, sunshine and fresh air. You’ll often find me sitting next to an open window while soaking up the sun.
Athena: I love how there is minimal traffic here compared to where I am from in New York. Mom feels comfortable driving here and is never late to my appointments at the veterinary clinic.
You on your way to becoming a social media celebrity?
Abby: @persianabbyathenatabby. Obviously, have seen how adorable I am?! You can see me on the daily. Heads up, there’s photos of my sister on there, but you can easily skip those.
Athena: Yes, we’ve been on Instagram for about 2 months now and have close to 2,000 furrends. I couldn’t be more grateful for being part of a supportive animal community filled with lots of love and kindness.
TikTok or Insta?
Abby: As of right now, we are only on Instagram, and we love it, except for when we get an activity block for liking too many photos of cute animals. I mean how can anyone like too many photos of cute animals? Does anyone know a good lawyer?
Next Read: The Secret Life of Las Vegas Pets Merlin and Charlie Cooperman