Once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky, a special feline will enter your heart and home, and change you forever. Tui was such a cat.

“Tui was the cat of my life,” said Ken Levine, who recently established an assistance fund at Hearts That Purr to honor the memory of his beloved cat who passed away on February 26th, 2015 at the remarkable age of 22. Tui’s Legacy provides funds to help Hearts That Purr with the rescue and care of older felines at risk of homelessness or euthanasia due to their human guardian’s terminal illness.

Tui, who was a stray when he found Ken, loved everyone he met. Aptly named after the chatty Tui bird of New Zealand, “To know Tui was a treat for all he encountered,” reminisces Ken. “Tui was the people’s cat. He was a gentle, loving and very talkative shade cat who made friends with all four and two-legged creatures who ever lived and visited with him. Over the years, he lived with other cats, dogs, and people, and made friends with everyone. Even if he had never met you, he would insist you pat him in his very vocal way, and then jump in your lap at the first opportunity.”

A favorite story about Tui’s adventures, is how he helped Ken befriend his neighbors. One day, after Tui hurt himself while playing outside, Ken learned that Tui already knew the neighbors and had been splitting his time between homes. (And getting double meals!) From that point on, Ken and his neighbors became friends. One of those neighbors was an accomplished photographer who later ended up chronicling Tui’s zest for

life through a series of photographs entitled “The Secret Life of Tui.” With a gentle, adventurous and compassionate spirit, Tui’s impact during his 22 years of life were very meaningful not just to Ken but to so many others.

Tui lived a long and happy life because Ken was always there for him. But sadly, many senior cats outlive their owners. When no friend or family member steps up to take them in, they may not live the long and happy life that Tui had. Sadly, senior cats are often euthanized out of convenience, abandoned outdoors to fend for themselves, or surrendered to a public animal control facility where their chances of ever finding a new home are grim.

The cost of rescue, veterinary and ongoing care of a senior cat in need under these circumstances is often substantial, especially when such a cat’s owner has been unwell for some time. Tui’s Legacy Fund will provide extra financial assistance to help Hearts That Purr rescue these cats if already in the public shelter system, or provide peace of mind to a terminally ill cat owner by guaranteeing placement here for their senior cat when the time comes.

If you are a qualified hospice patient with limited resources Tui’s Legacy Gift fund may help offset the cost of enrolling your senior cat in the Feline Guardian program. Please contact us by phone at 520-297-3780 or by email to info@heartsthatpurr.org for more information.

Ken’s desire to establish a legacy gift in honor of Tui’s memory is a reflection of the gift Tui gave him – unconditional love and friendship. “Tui thrived on the love he gave and received, which helped him survive a few health issues into his 20s. It was only fitting that I could set up this fund so that he could continue to give from beyond.”

We thank Ken for sharing Tui’s story with us. We know that Tui’s kind and generous spirit will live on through the elderly cats this special fund supports. If you would like to contribute to Tui’s Legacy fund please donate here and note your donation is a tribute gift for Tui. If you would like to know more about Tui’s life and the special relationship he and his dad shared, please watch this lovely slideshow produced by Ken to honor the memory of his beloved Tui here.