October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Kyle the cat, a famous Instagram star with over 65,000 followers, is doing his part to lend a voice for abuse victims. A shelter rescue with three teeth, no claws, severe dandruff, hip dysplasia, and a crooked ear, Kyle also witnessed a horrific murder in his former home.
When Jen Rice adopted Kyle back in 2011, she was surprised to learn his adoption record actually had a file from the police department that stated the date the murder occurred. Through research, Jen learned the murder was a result of criminal domestic violence.
Jen works full-time as a faculty research university and devotes her spare time to Kyle and the domestic violence devastation taking place in the United States. She decided to use Kyle and social media to bring awareness to the issue.
In 2015, Jen started Cats Against Domestic Violence, a movement she uses to raise awareness about the need for domestic violence shelters that will also accept pets. Jen stated in a recent interview with PawCulture
“Less than five percent of domestic violence shelters can take pets, and considering that more than seventy percent of people in the U.S. have a pet, there’s obviously a lot of people that aren’t getting the support they need to leave their abusive situation because they don’t have anywhere to go with their animal.”
More than 70 percent of women who own pets reported their abuser threatened, injured or killed their pet. As many as 48 percent of women stay in an abusive relationship because domestic violence shelters refuse to house their pet, which leads to more women dying at the hands of their batterer.
Kyle and Jen advocate for animal-friendly domestic violence shelters and work with URIPALS (People and Animals Living Safely) and Red Rover, a national non-profit that provides safe escape grants to victims of domestic violence and their pets.
When Kyle isn’t promoting domestic violence awareness he’s a lap cat willing to be held and petted for hours at a time. Jen says
“Even though he endured this trauma, he still wants to be loved. He’s this pillar of hope and recovery.”