(April 24, 2013) The most famous cat in Rockwall history has lived in Irving the past two years. In fact, Gracie Lu lived only a tiny portion of her life in Rockwall. But she’s known as a YouTube star, since she has a video that’s attracted 50,000 views.
It all started when she was a tiny kitten with a birth defect. She came into the Rockwall shelter with a right front leg that’s missing a radius bone, which makes her leg appear too long. Volunteers with Rockwall Pets knew photos wouldn’t be sufficient to find the adorable kitten a new home. So they quickly produced a video and uploaded it to YouTube on May 13, 2011.
Little did they know that Susan Knoll had just moved to Texas from California and was actively looking to adopt a special needs kitty. She called the Rockwall shelter for three consecutive days before shelter staff released the kitten for adoption. “I’ve known through my 20-plus years of rescuing and volunteering that many healthy shelter animals barely get any attention,” Susan explained. “Special needs get even less attention because people are afraid their disability might mean something else is wrong with them and afraid their disability will mean more in vet bills.”
Susan took the kitten home to Irving and quickly named her Gracie Lu, Twisty Kitty. The young kitten didn’t have any problem making herself at home with another special needs cat that Susan was fostering at the time, a one-eyed orange tabby named Jack.
Six months later, Susan was surprised to see Gracie Lu’s video had gone viral on YouTube. “I figured at 20,000 views it would start to slow down,” Susan said. “Then 30,000, which was amazing to me. Then 40,000, and now approaching 50,000. For me and Gracie, that’s about rock star status.”
And Gracie Lu’s impact has been felt far outside YouTube. Susan still fosters cats for Texoma Pets Alive. And Gracie Lu’s story inspired the volunteers of Rockwall Pets to break away as an independent No Kill rescue organization. Rockwall Pets rescues many special needs pets from area shelters, and the group currently has three three-legged dogs, a puppy with a broken leg, broken back and shattered pelvis, a deaf boxer, a nearly-blind cocker spaniel and numerous dogs with heartworms.
As Susan will attest, having special needs will make a pet very special indeed. “She’s a diva for sure,” Susan described Gracie Lu. “Her favorite things are catnip, peanut butter, saltines and graham crackers. Tom Thumb’s sugar cookies are like crack to her. She goes crazy over them and gives me no peace until I give her some.”
But Susan quickly adds that she doesn’t mind Gracie Lu’s celebrity demands. “She has earned it,” Susan explained. “Not many kitties can say they’re famous from a YouTube video.”
By Michael Kitkoski.
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