“Tui was the cat of my life,” said Ken Levine, longtime Phinney’s Rider and avid cyclist, and also Phinney’s foster dad who recently established a Phinney's fund to honor the memory of his beloved feline.
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.”
In talking to Ken about Tui, this sentiment became evident as he told the story of how he came to know his neighbors in Stow, Massachusetts, a place where Ken still cycles for Bike for the Woods in support of the Stow Conservation Trust.
It turned out that Tui, who Ken adopted as a stray and aptly named after the chatty Tui bird native to New Zealand, had already befriended the neighbors. And 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.”
It was only after Tui got hurt while engaged in some outdoor shenanigans that Ken learned he had been splitting his time with the neighbors (and probably getting double meals! LOL). From that point on, Tui would meow for those neighbors to join him back home with Ken every chance he got!
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.
“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,” Ken reminisced.
Those 22 years weren’t without Tui’s share of hardships, though. When he was 17, Tui suffered a stroke. Fortunately, he recovered. But what would have happened if he hadn’t gotten the care he needed? Many older cats like Tui need help to survive, and they, too, may live to be 22 if given the chance.
“There’s an expression that cats have nine lives. And sometimes they need our help in getting those full nine lives,” Ken said.
His decision to establish the Friends of Tui Fund for Older Cats was simple. When Tui passed, Ken held a Celebration of Life and close to two-dozen people attended.
“Tui thrived on the love he gave and received, which helped him survive a few health issues into his 20s,” he said. “It was only fitting that we could set up this fund so that he could continue to give from beyond.”
Thank you, Tui, for the love you gave while you were here. And thank you, Ken, for letting us share what a special boy Tui was. We have no doubt that Tui’s spirit of altruism will live on through the elderly cats this Fund supports.
What’s next for Ken
Newly retired and full of plans, Ken will bike 80 miles in support of Phinney’s Ride on Sept. 11 and 12 in Rhode Island as a member of Roger & Russ’ Team Ride.
Ken has already raised 288% of his fundraising goal, and we are certain that Tui will be cheering Ken and his fellow riders on from The Rainbow Bridge.
If you would like to support Ken’s ride, click here. To sign up to participate in the Ride visit phinneys.org/ride. And remember -- this year’s ride isn’t limited to cycling (a tractor ride, a boat ride, a hayride, etc. are fair game!) And, if you would like more information about setting up a fund in honor or memory of a loved one, send us a message or call us at 617-979-8705.
Another Lasting Gift from Tui to Share
Check out this amazing slideshow on YouTube that Ken produced to honor the memory of his beloved Tui (and be sure to check out the scenes from “The Secret LIfe of Tui” which chronicle his heartwarming relationship with the neighbors he so adored!
How Friend of Tui Fund for Older Cats Helps
In their golden years, pets can develop many common health issues. For kitties like Tui, some usual ailments include chronic kidney disease, heart disease, hyperthryoidism, dental disease, diabetes, and cancer. The prognosis depends on the progression of the disease and a pet’s overall health. But intervention and treatment goes a long way toward helping to extend an older pet’s life when they are able to maintain a good quality of life.
That’s why Friends of Tui Fund for Older Cats is so important. It's here to make sure that senior cats get the medical treatment, prescription food and other care they need to live their best lives.