If you cannot own a cat due to household restrictions, consider volunteering for a local shelter or animal rescue group. You'll meet new friends who share your fondness for felines, and you'll spend quality time with kitties.read more
TDC: Tell us about Romeo and how he came into your life.
Golon: We adopted Romeo from The Forgotten: Persian Rescue & Friends in Marysville, Ohio, when he was 2. Romeo was turned in to a shelter in Kentucky when he was 1. He was adopted, but then brought back for some reason. The shelter in Kentucky knew about The Forgotten and called to see if they wanted him. Of course they did! Romeo was deaf in both ears and had a strange skin condition.
The vets who work with The Forgotten volunteered their time to tend to Romeo’s ailments. He had eight surgeries on his ears -- now he can hear just fine. Romeo spent about six months at the rescue before we saw him on the rescue website. We loved him right away.
TDC: How did you get started blogging for Romeo?
Golon: When I started fundraising on Twitter in February 2008, I realized I needed a home-base so people could learn more about Romeo and the rescues we were helping, so I started his blog.
TDC: When did you and Romeo first decide to use his popularity on the Web for charity?
Golon: I decided to put Romeo on Twitter in February 2008. A co-worker said if Romeo got more followers than he had, he’d be really mad. Well, I took that as a challenge. I decided to offer a 5-cent donation to rescues for every new follower I got. Pretty soon, Romeo had thousands of followers. At that time, fundraising on Twitter was new -- and someone offering a donation for every follower was a great reason for people to tell others about him.
Word spread about his program, and I had people and companies offering to match my donations. After a month or so, I decided that I would choose a new rescue each month -- from submissions made by my readers -- to benefit from the fundraising. I eventually stopped donating 5 cents per follower and concentrated on finding corporate sponsors as well as other forms of raising money. The program is called FURPOWER. To date, I’ve almost raised $50,000, which was my goal. Now I need to choose some new ones!
TDC: What do you have planned for the future?
Golon: In 2011, I’ll still be focusing on helping rescues, but I will be helping a new rescue each quarter instead of each month so I can get to know the organization better. I have also launched a new blog, TheHappyLitterBox.com. The focus of this blog is all things litter-box -- solutions to problems, product reviews, expert articles and anecdotes from real people. Romeo is what I like to call “litter box challenged.” This is a common reason that cats are abandoned or turned in to shelters. If I can help keep one cat out of a shelter, then I’ll feel like it’s a success.
Cats reach full skeletal development when they are this old: