*NOTE: The following was written in 2014.
Seven years ago, a feral cat wandered into the THV11 Weather Garden. It didn't take long for him, who was later named Joey, to realize he was in a safe place. He decided to stick around, and over time, he made an incredible impact on the lives of the THV11 staff and literally, people from all around the world. In August of 2014, Joey succumbed to illness and passed away. This story is dedicated to Joey and the joy he brought so many over the years.
If you're viewing this on THV11's app, or on our mobile site, visit http://on.kthv.com/1pfgcWU in your device's web browser for photos, videos, and more.
One day in 2007, THV11's Theba Lolley was standing in the weather center, looking out the window into the garden, enjoying watching our station's cat, Larry, relax on the deck. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a streak cut across the deck. All she said she could make out was that it was a young cat with unique markings and white feet.
Theba was alarmed because Larry saw the cat, and she was worried about a potential fight. Larry walked casually to the opening of the deck where the cat was hiding, and met him nose-to-nose. It was a pleasant and seemingly familiar greeting for both of them.
Though it was obvious they had known each other awhile, she had never seen the cat, who we later named Joey. Joey seemed nervous about being in the garden, so she went out to investigate the new friendship between the two.
Joey was not comfortable at the time with Theba's presence, and he quickly ran back under the deck. She enticed him with some food so she could get a good look at him.
She recalled, "As he inhaled the food, he observed me petting and holding Larry, and though he watched intently, he was not interested in being petted. In fact, I really got the sense he wanted me to leave Larry alone so he could have him all to himself."
It didn't take long for Joey to realize that the THV11 Weather Garden was a safe place with a consistent food source and a heated house. The garden also had Larry, whom he loved. Joey followed him everywhere, wanting to play constantly.
A month went by and Joey began to tolerate the THV11 staff, but he still didn't like human touch. This made it tricky to get Joey to Dr. Bob Hale, his veterinarian. Nevertheless, a plan was devised that was not traumatic for him, and we were able to get a check-up for him, as well as his shots and neutering.
We never intended to keep Joey. In fact, a THV11 employee was planning to adopt him, but it was evident that he wanted to remain at the station with Larry.
Unfortunately, Larry passed away in September of 2007. He was a beloved pet to our THV11 family.
As time went on, Joey became very comfortable at THV11- so comfortable he became a regular part of many newscasts. Viewers could see him jump on the desk while anchors were reading stories. Sometimes he'd just be sitting between Ashley, Tom, and Alyse on the couch on "THV11 This Morning," soaking in their friendship... and treats!
In the spring of 2012, Joey was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer in his left back leg. Another one of his many attributes soon became "cancer survivor."
RELATED: Joey the Garden Cat, 2007-2014 (http://on.kthv.com/1prxQwM)
Keep scrolling for more about Joey.
On March 16, 2009, a Facebook page for Joey the Garden Cat was created. The page was a landing spot for photos, videos, and stories – usually about Joey and other animal "friends." As time went on, the page gained more and more traction, and a typical post would garner thousands of likes and comments. The posts are typically centered around his adventures through the station and the THV11 Weather Garden.
THV11 and Joey the Garden Cat have received thousands of condolences via Facebook from all around the world in light of his passing. Thank you to everyone who loved him as much as we did, and thank you for all of your kind words.
Here's a look at just a handful of comments made by people who say they were impacted by Joey:
I'm still so saddened and shocked about Joey. We have been thinking of getting a kitten for awhile now. So our decision was made this morning to get one and name it Joey. - Dawn
Joey, during the past two years, you have helped me with my depression. I went to your page a lot of times just to see the your cute videos. I am thankful for the visits we had in your garden. I smile when I think of decorating your shack last Christmas and how you did NOT like the big Santa Clause. I will miss you so much! You were a precious fur baby and taught a lot of people about caring and compassion. RIP, Little Buddy. – Diana
Seems silly to cry but I am. Life has been kinda rough for me lately and seeing Joey's posts daily has always brought a smile to me. Rest in peace friend and know your life as touched many. My condolences to the staff at THV11. – Laurie
I found Joey The Garden Cat after my young son passed away from brain cancer. Watching his videos exploring the station brightened a very dark and sad time in my life. I will remember Joey fondly and hope he meets my boy at the Rainbow Bridge. – Pati
Found little Joey The Garden Cat a few months ago. Reading about Joey has been a much needed day brightener when dealing with my daughter's illness and surgeries. This is just devastating to hear about his passing. I know Joey will be at the Rainbow Bridge and enjoying a new Garden having left this world a better place. He was such a sweet kitty! My condolences to the THV 11 news team. -- we are Heavy Hearted in Wisconsin. – Victoria
Keep scrolling for photos and video of Joey with the THV11 family.
Joey made such an impact on everyone at THV11. From his visits to the desks of overnight morning show producers, to jumping up on the set in the middle of a broadcast, the memories of Joey are sure to live on.
Keep scrolling for a look at the organizations Joey has helped over the years.
The legacy of Joey The Garden Cat will live on through not only the lives he touched, but also through the organizations he and his caretaker, Theba Lolley (Momma/Agent), worked to raise money for.
CATpaign: On the 11th of every month, Joey encourages his Facebook friends to make a donation of $11 to an animal shelter of their choice and if they do, he asks them to "Like" the post. The next day, Theba would add up all the "Likes" and multiply it by 11 to see how much was donated all over the world.
Joey's Play Room: The Little Rock Animal Village has been raising money to build a play room in Joey's honor called "Joey's Play Room." At the end of July, it was announced that a $10,000 check was presented by Friends of the Little Rock Animal Village. Around $2,800 of the donation was raised by Joey's Facebook friends.
The play room will serve as a welcoming area to the shelter and is expected to cost around $60,000.
If you'd like to donate, visit: http://on.kthv.com/VW0GIA
EDIT: Funds have been reached as of August 2017. See the story here.
Joey Prints: In 2012, artist Robert Walker made a portrait of Joey. A limited number of prints were produced for the public to purchase and proceeds benefited the Humane Society of Pulaski County and the Thea Foundation's Art Closet.
Joey has helped many other organizations over the years, as well as shed light on the importance of spaying and neutering and other pet needs.
He was a rare little spirit - I could see it in his eyes, and I could hear it in his small meow. - Theba Lolley, Joey's "Momma/Agent"