Life throws hilarious curve balls.
One minute you have just adopted a rescue cat, and the next minute, you have agreed to A Current Affair leaving a motion sensor triggered camera outside your bedroom and bathroom for 48 hours.
How it all began
Let me take you back to where this started. I am a member of a local community Facebook page: To be precise, the Ferny Hills, Arana Hills, Everton Hills Ridgy-Didge Community Page.
Unlike many community pages, this one is very strictly moderated, and slanging matches and complaints about cold coffee and slow service disappear faster than they can be uploaded.
Last September, an intriguing post appeared in amongst the requests for cardboard moving boxes and if anyone had spotted toilet paper at any of the shops.
A lovely lady named Kay posted a photo of a mound of kids’ toys, dog toys, and clothing brought to her by a tiny ginger cat.
She didn’t own the cat, and every day this little ginger tom would jump over her 6-foot-high fences and bring her gifts that he had stolen from surrounding houses.
Some days he would bring none. Other days he would bring four things. But each day he came back to visit Kay and spend time snoozing on her lounge.
Kay didn’t know what to do with all these gifts, so she decided to post a photo of the haul to try and match gifts with the original owners.
Pirate Kitty Strikes Again
The community found it hysterical, and owners gradually came forward to be reunited with their property.
However, Pirate Kitty (as he came to be known) had other ideas. He would promptly steal some things back – so toys would bounce between Kay’s house and the property owner’s house multiple times.
Pirate Kitty stole anything he could find. He would even break into houses to find what he wanted.
Dog toys, children’s toys, car washing sponges, gardening gloves, school uniform shirts, socks, footballs – if he could carry it, it would make its way over the fence and into Kay’s back yard.
Kay would post new photos of the haul every few days, and more owners would come forward.
Pirate Kitty’s Original Owners
After a few weeks, Pirate Kitty’s owners introduced themselves to Kay. They didn’t want their identity to be known as they were starting to get a lot of flak about their pirating kitty, interspersed amongst the laughter.
His owners tried everything to keep him indoors, even buying a large outdoor cat enclosure the size of the average kitchen. Pirate Kitty dug out of that within 24 hours.
Then the poison pen letters threatening to harm the cat, and complaints to the council started. His owners redoubled their efforts, but nothing they tried worked.
They asked Kay if she knew anyone who would take on a marauding kitty. Unfortunately, Kay could not keep him, so she put a post on the Ridgy Didge page.
Pirate Kitty Joins Our Family
I loved the adventures of Pirate Kitty and wanted to help. So, I offered to work with his owners to see if we could keep him indoors, but failing that, I was happy to adopt him. (I have had success in the past getting quirky outdoor cats to become contented indoor cats.)
After the owners tried everything in our shared arsenal, finally they thought the most loving thing they could do was to ask us to adopt him. So, Johnny, as he was officially known, came to live with us.
But cats are quirky. We tried calling him by his official name when he moved in, but he studiously ignored us every time we called his name.
This cat wanted a new name. So, my daughters and I sat with name books to try and find his new name.
We tried the obvious – Pirate Kitty and Captain Jack (from Dr Who and not the Pirates of the Caribbean). No response.
We then worked through all the Weasleys and every ginger-headed character we knew. Nothing.
Finally, we resorted to Star Wars. The second we called out Kylo, his ears pricked up, and he ran towards us, chirruping.
We walked away and called out, “Kylo!” Again, he ran towards us. So, Pirate Kitty Kylo he became, and he happily became a fully indoor kitty.
Once a Pirate …
But he hadn’t left his pirating ways behind him. Every night, the moment the lights go out, Pirate Kitty starts to prowl through the house.
He gathers his loot and drags it up the staircase and onto the landing outside the bedrooms.
Some mornings we are greeted with just one or two items. Some days up to eight items are liberated and dragged up the stairs.
His favourites are his swishy sticks, closely followed by an Elf on the Shelf and a few other toys. But we have also been greeted with a face washer, duster, and a bathmat. If it is not nailed down, it is fair game.
I used to share the photos with Kay every morning to make her smile, and over the weeks both she and her husband, Tom, became good friends.
A Local Celebrity
Given the amount of hate his outdoor pirating ways had generated, we originally were going to put Pirate Kitty Kylo into witness protection.
We thought we would turn him into a standard suburban moggie (with the odd quirk or two) and let his fame in the local community quietly die down.
But the Ridgy Didge community were not having a bar of it. They wanted to know where their Pirate Kitty was and if he was happy.
So, I caved.
I started to share a few posts to the Ridgy Didge page about his exploits as an indoor pirate, and the community responded.
Each post generated 700+ likes and hundreds of comments. People wanted more photos and stories of Pirate Kitty Kylo.
He is so locally famous that when we put on our rather large Christmas light display (finalists in the 4KQ Christmas Lights Competition), we had locals tell us they were not here to see the lights; they wanted to see Pirate Kitty.
Pirate Kitty Kylo’s Fame Spread
One of the Ridgy Didge members is a journalist with the ABC and asked if it would be OK to tell his story.
“Sure,” I said. I didn’t think too much about it, thinking it would make a lovely “puff piece” to cheer people up. The Pirate Kitty story went viral and quickly clocked up thousands of views.
“Would you also be willing to chat to the local ABC radio team on air?” “Sure,” I responded, thinking it was just going to be the local ABC Brisbane radio team.
It turned out it was for Radio National, and our fun and gentle interview was beamed across Australia.
My phone started ringing off the hook, and my inbox was filled with requests.
Within a few days, Kay and I had interviews with our local paper, newspapers in Europe, a number of high circulation national women’s magazines and had a film crew from A Current Affair booked in.
I even was interviewed by the wildly popular breakfast crew with Chrissie Swan, Sam and Browny on Nova 100 in Melbourne. (For a replay check the recording of 21 January 2022 – approx 22 minutes in).
Everyone was interested in a gorgeous ginger tom with unfortunate light-fingered tendencies as a counter to all the “stuff” going on in the world.
The film crew were lovely. We went through Pirate Kitty Kylo’s story from the beginning to now and filmed all the background images for the story.
“What if we get some night vision of him pirating?” “Sure,” I said, without really thinking through what that would mean.
It ended up meaning that a motion-triggered camera was set up outside our bedroom and bathroom doors, pointing towards the staircase. But being a tracking camera, it also caught us every time we went in/out of a bedroom or went to the loo. Not awkward at all!
Eventually, the filming completed, and funny night vision was captured. The interview went to air on 4 February 2022, and the magazines will trickle out over the coming months.
The Kelly Clarkson Show Called
As if the Pirate Kitty Kylo story couldn’t get more fascinating, we also appeared on the Kelly Clarkson Show – but not without the odd challenge or two along the way.
Why Are We Doing This?
At no stage in my goal setting for 2022 did I have working for my cat in my plans, but that is what has happened these past couple of weeks.
He now has a solid social media presence, has had multiple offers of sponsorships and other potentially exciting developments on the cards.
My regular business support members have been outstanding, pitching in to help navigate this wild ride. (Special shout out to my accountant, lawyer, and graphic designers.)
And why are we doing this and sharing his ongoing adventures as an indoor pirate?
The simplest answer is to make people happy.
The world is very bumpy right now, and people are craving connection and a distraction from everything around them.
Pirate Kitty Kylo is wholesome, gentle, and funny. People love that about him.
We also know that fame is fleeting, so we want to make the most difference to as many people (and cats) as long as it lasts.
But wait … there’s more
We are trying to use whatever profile Pirate Kitty Kylo develops to help local cat animal rescues given that Pirate Kitty Kylo was originally a rescue kitty from the RSPCA.
Many small, local pet rescues have been hit hard with the pandemic, as fund-raisers have had to be cancelled and businesses that in regular times would support them are no longer financially able to help.
When you combine the funding crunch with a pet baby boom, (as many families can no longer afford to get their pets desexed), many smaller pet rescue charities are seriously overwhelmed. If we can use any of Pirate Kitty Kylo’s fame to help, then that is a good thing.
And that is why Pirate Kitty Kylo now has merchandise.
We have had heaps of requests for Pirate Kitty Kylo things.
Initially, the thought of merchandise for our lovable cat burglar felt odd. But after talking with several cat rescue charities in our area and hearing how tough they were doing at the moment, it seemed like this was a way that we could tangibly help.
So we have worked with Dana @dabbysaurus, a very talented illustrator from Petrie, and Redbubble, a print on demand company based in Melbourne, so people can show their Pirate Kitty Kylo love and help cat charities at the same time.
You can now choose t-shirts and hoodies from toddler through to 5XL in a wide range of colours, stickers, badges, coffee mugs, caps, water bottles and notebooks – all sporting the cute Pirate Kitty Kylo illustration.
Redbubble will print and deliver your items to you worldwide, so this is not just for Australian Pirate Kitty Kylo fans.
And the best bit: We pledge that 50% of the profits of the sales of every item in our Redbubble store will go directly back to local cat rescue charities.
It is just one way that we can make a difference to other rescue cats like Pirate Kitty Kylo was
As for myself, each day continues to be a hyper-speed roller coaster, and each day I just look at the little ginger ball of mischief with his pirating ways, and wonder where his adventures will take us next.