This Cat Rode a Bicycle!


A Wrong Label Changed Our Lives!

May 15, 2014 started out just like any other day. We did our intake of the day’s animals who were here for surgery and dental care. There was a very nice lady who transported two cats from the Nelson County SPCA/Humane Society Almost Home Adoption Center for dental care. During the intake process, our Office Manager Elaina noticed that the kitty labeled ‘Maureen’ was supposed to be a tuxedo cat. This cat was definitely a tiger tabby. The transport person called the shelter, and lo and behold, they accidentally sent ‘Maude’ instead of ‘Maureen’! Maude was suffering from an Upper Respiratory Infection, so she was not a candidate for dentistry that day. Since the drive from the shelter was almost two hours, the transport person had planned to spend the day in Richmond. She asked if we could please keep Maude with us for the day. ‘Sure’ we said, ‘no problem’.

Deaf Cat Screeches Her Way Into Our Hearts

Maude was loud…very, very LOUD. Whenever you walked past her kennel, she screeched insistently and thrust her arm through the grate to draw you over. Elaina and I decided to take her up front with us so she could get the attention she was demanding and the doctors and technicians could get a little quiet. We came to learn that Maude was deaf and had been declawed in the front. Thank goodness Nelson County had rescued her from the mean streets. She also had quite a hobbling limp..the result of a broken leg that had healed on its own at some point in her life’s journey. Maude appeared to be of an advanced age, they were guessing 15. She also suffered from hyperthyroidism (a very common condition in older cats). In short…she was a hot mess. And yet…there was something about her. As the day drew on, I called Mz. Bette at Nelson County and inquired about adopting Maude. I have worked here for seven years and this is the one and only time I took someone home and added to my family. But then Maude was certainly a ‘one and only’ cat. Mz. Bette was soo excited! They were sure Maude was destined to live out her remaining days at the shelter…that no one would adopt such a crazy old lady…but adopt her I did! Now I had to get her home.  Growing up in a big city, I never learned to drive a car. Consequently, I ride a bicycle to work. I put her in a harness, strapped her into a baby sack, and off we went. I would never even attempt this with my other two cats, but Maude was such a character I thought ‘let’s give this a try’. Maude looved it! She complained a little during the ‘suiting-up’, but once we got going she really loved it!

Now It Was Time To Address Her Medical Issues

The two incredible women I work for jumped right in to treat Maude’s medical problems. They gave her a course of antibiotics to treat her URI. Once that was clear, she had surgery to remove her compromised thyroid and received dental care. Amazingly, she had all of her teeth and needed no extractions! She recovered very quickly from her procedures and began to thrive in her new life. She ignored my other two cats and was impressed by absolutely nothing…well, except chicken. Maude rode into to work with me every day and stayed in the front office helping myself and her Auntie Elaina with our duties. On the weekends, Maude and I enjoyed riding my bicycle to yard sales searching for bargains. On one such outing we found child sized wooden steps so she could climb up into bed more easily. She would also go to weekend marketing events with us to help spread the word about Helping Hands. She was a valued team player and would happily wear costumes and pose for Facebook posts, such as the ones below for Veteran’s Day and Halloween 🙂

Auntie Elaina & G.I. Maude

Witchypoo Maude





Her Auntie Elaina was so smitten by her, she even had a professional photo taken of Maude (or my Shady Ole Lady as I liked to call her).

Maude’s Professional Photo Shoot

Two Years and Three Months

When I adopted Maude, I thought it would be more of a hospice situation. I thought she would maybe live six months and I would make her comfortable and spoiled rotten. Her Auntie Elaina definitely saw to the spoiled rotten part 😉 She quickly became such a part of all of our lives, we didn’t know how we ever lived without her. The owners of Helping Hands did frequent blood work on her, monitoring both her remaining thyroid, and her kidney levels. The values would slowly, steadily creep upward, but Maude found great comfort in simple, injectable famotidine. She continued to rule the roost and screech her insistent demands until one of us humans (or staff as she thought of us) complied. As we hit our two year anniversary together, her quality of life was slipping and her other thyroid had become compromised. I was faced with he decision of medicating her daily, or having the remaining thyroid surgically removed to give her some more, medication free time. Since she had breezed through the surgery so easily two years prior, I chose the surgical option. It was clear as soon as she was in recovery, this surgery was much harder on her. Even though she had more than two years of steady, quality nutrition and medical care, her estimated age was at least 17 years old and her little body was just tired. Maude failed to thrive after surgery, stopped eating or being able to keep food down so I made the decision to let her go. She went peacefully and quickly. That was 13 months ago. Although I am still heartbroken, I would adopt her again in a second. Two years and three months is such a brief time to have a beloved pet, but the awesomeness she brought into my life and the care and comfort we were able to provide her in her last years will stay with me forever. She lives on as a Helping Hands Ambassador as she and her cherished Auntie Elaina are forever on our brochure:) Thanks for the time, the adventures and the memories my Shady Ole lady…there will never be another Maude♥

Auntie Elaina & Maude on the Helping Hands Brochure


9 comments on “This Cat Rode a Bicycle!

  1. Betty Whiteaker on

    Thank you for this beautiful, touching story about Maude. I’ve often wondered about the cat in the picture I’ve seen on my visits to Helping Hands – now I know her lovely story.

    • Veronica on

      Thank you Mz Whiteaker! Please be sure and ask for me (Veronica) the next time you are here so I can say hello 🙂 Please give your Becky & Lola a big hugg from all of us♥

  2. Jackie Jenkins on

    This is wonderful story about Maude. It made me laugh and it made me cry. I too had a speial yohng man name Midnight who passed away 4 mo tbz agl dje to cancer. He was o e of a kind. Because of Helpinv Hands I was able to spend another 9 months with him. After his surgery thag HH performed , leg amputation he became a TV rat. He loved watching TV. I am so grateful to the staff at the HH center for the affordable cost of his surgery. I live in Baltimore sl its a little distance, but I would take the drive again if needed to be because the loveing and carin g staff makes it all worth IT Thank you for everything. Love Midnight and J. Jenkins

    • Veronica on

      Thank you Mz Jenkins! Your Midnight was a very special boy and so, so very lucky to have been so loved and cared for by you♥ We are grateful we were able to give you some more ‘good time’ with him♥ We are lucky for the time we have with them, but surely miss them when they are gone. Thank you so much for all of your kind words and continued support.

  3. John Zinn on

    I have a friend in Chrystal Hill, Va located in Halifax County. She is blind but does all chores like a person who can see. She is 77 years old . She has two cats one sprayed name Gracie and then other female is Neuttie. The two are her family and she feeds them cleans the litter box daily. I will read her the story about Maude thanks John Zinn and Cooley my cockapoo who had dental surgery in the past.

    • Veronica on

      Thank you Mr Zinn! Yes, we remember you and Cooley very well from 2011 and again in 2015. We are still here in Richmond, but our new address is 1605 Rhoadmiller St, 23220, should you ever need us in the future. Please give your Cooley a big kiss from us and thank you so much for sharing Maude’s story with your friend. Grace and Neuttie are sure lucky to have her♥

  4. Krystal on

    It sounds like Maude was one of those cats who demands she capture your heart. I love this story. It’s so beautiful. It reminds me of my boy Blue that I recently lost. He was a grown feral cat for at least 7 years that I knew of before someone neutered him (TNR) and he decided it was time to settle down. I saw him around the neighborhood for years, and while he would watch me from the other side of the picket fence, he didn’t trust people.

    One day, while I was feeding my other cat, he meowed at me. I was confused, as this meow didn’t sound like my other cat. I looked through the fence, and said “Was that you?” and he answered me with a blink that said “Well, it’s just us here.” And I talked to him, told him it was ok for him to come eat and stay with us if he wanted to. He walked through the fence and apprehensively started to eat. I very carefully started petting him, and he perked right up, purring, lifting his head to meet my hand, and curling his tail in pleasure.

    He was with us for 18 months before he passed. He was very sweet and kind, as though he had never been feral! He would even pick at the metal grate on the door, to “knock.” We called him Heisenberg when he did that! lol

    After watching me for years, he must have known that I would be kind and good to him. He chose me, just like Maude reached out and chose you. My heart is with you in your time of mourning. You gave Maude the best life possible. You guys are all awesome, giving everything you can for the patients in your care, right down to your hearts. RVA is blessed to have you. Thank you for your dedicated service to our beloved pets.

    • Veronica on

      Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing your story Krystal!♥ Blue was one very smart kitty to chose you 🙂


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