One of the best things about social networks like Instagram is how it connects likeminded people across the globe, reminding us of our commonalities. Dasha Minaeva lives in Russia. You likely don’t know her, but you may be one of the approaching-half-a-million people that follow her cat Rexie on Instagram.
Known as the “living emoji cat,” Rexie’s ridiculously cute face and joie de vivre have captured hearts across the globe. But the best part of Rexie’s social-media mission, is encouraging people to take another look at disabled cats. Rexie is a “handicat” with only two working feet. He was mistreated by his former people and ended up with a broken backbone. Despite his entire lower body being paralyzed, Rexie is living his best life, thanks to Dasha. Their wonderful mantra? Disability does not mean inability.
“Back then I didn’t know what it takes to take care of a special needs cat but life had a twist and it just happened,” Dasha recollects. Since adopting Rexie, Dasha has learned a whole lot about caring for a special-needs cat, but mostly she wants you to know that they are not that different: “Don’t let the visual disability fool you because these cats are active and full of life despite their handicap.”
Not that it doesn’t involve some sacrifice. “The biggest challenge was changing my lifestyle since I’m the only care giver to Rexie and he cannot be left alone for more than eight hours, so I have to be home pretty much all the time.” Travel is out of the question because Rexie doesn’t like to travel, though this isn’t a problem for cats who do, Dasha notes. “And yes I had to make the house ‘Rexie proof’ to make sure he doesn’t climb up too high—he totally loves climbing!”
Rexie’s Instagram stardom is thanks to Dasha’s efforts. “I guess he has always been good with cameras, it was me who needed to learn how to use one to take nice photos of him,” she laughs. “I used to take quick shots of him first but later I thought to myself that Instagram is full of cat profiles and there were only a few that really stood out. I tried to come up with something that would make Rexie’s profile unique and his photos unusual, and voilà, that’s how the “living emoji cat” Instagram star was born!”
It’s Dasha’s hope that Rexie’s popularity will encourage others to give special-needs cats a chance. “They’re always determined and are full of strong spirit so it’s plain wrong to put them down,” she says. “People often are in such a hurry to put them down, but these cats are a great example of how you can overcome difficulties and enjoy life even if you fall short physically a little.” Follow @rexiecat