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A non-profit animal shelter in Green Bay, Wisconson, found overnight fame following a Facebook post about Terry Lauerman, a volunteer who accidentally falls asleep when he comes to brush the cats. The internet has dubbed him the “cat grandpa,” and people are in love.
The shelter, Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, posted a selection of photos of Terry napping with his furry friends on Facebook Tuesday, and it has spread like wildfire in the days since. The sight of cats who are often victims of abuse or illness so relaxed and comfortable warmed hearts nationwide. The post has been shared 16,000 times on Facebook since, and people are talking about it all over the internet.
Twitter users are reposting Terry’s story to boost donations to the shelter, and the post even made it to the front page of Reddit.
The website for Safe Haven says that it is a “no-kill, cage-free cat sanctuary” that cares specifically for “cases of abuse, negect [sic], FIV+, blindness, missing limbs, and other physical and psychological disabilities.” Safe Haven opened its first location in late 2016.
The founder of Safe Haven, Elizabeth Feldhausen, told BuzzFeed that Terry started coming to the shelter about six months ago, but the past few months has seen him visiting every day. She said she tried to show him how popular the post became on Facebook, but he doesn’t get how it works.
Feldhausen told BuzzFeed: “Yesterday when I told him he hit 400,000 views he said he hoped all those people would donate.”
Safe Haven started a Facebook fundraiser, in response to requests from commenters, so that people can donate to the shelter in honor of Terry. It has already surpassed its modest $1,000 goal by more than $3,000. Staffers also posted the link to their Amazon wishlist, where people can purchase cleaning supplies, food, and even accessories for all the pets.
The heartwarming images have inspired more than donations. Heather Owen, the executive director of One Tail at a Time, commented on the post saying that her shelter will be adding a room at their adoption center just for naps, in honor of Terry.
The people over at Safe Haven did a quick livestream with Terry, allowing him to speak directly to his fans.
“All the kitties are thankful for all of your donations,” Terry said in the livestream. When asked how he felt about being famous for falling asleep, he said, “it’s the craziest thing in the world. I fall asleep a lot, but I never felt that this was going to happen.”
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.