From Rough Starts to Runway Royalty: The Story of Ru Paul and Raja

By Judy Layne

You just never know when, where and how you’re going to meet your new best friend. This is the story of two kittens who came to the SPCA at different times, from different backgrounds and different geographical areas who ultimately became BFF’s (Best Feline Friends).

The first kitten had a rough start in life. She came to the Kings Shelter in October 2022 through the SPCA’s (Trap-Neuter-Return) Program in Digby. She belonged to a colony where many of the cats had Panleukopenia which can be fatal. Thankfully, the kitten tested negative. She received medical care at the shelter for an upper respiratory virus along with socialization to make her comfortable with people. The shelter named her Campfire. She was put up for adoption and eagerly awaited her fur-ever home.

At the same time, Haley was looking for a kitten. Her birthday was right around the corner and she knew she couldn’t get a better present than a kitten! So, Haley and her mom went to the Kings SPCA. Haley said “We called ahead and learned that a group of kittens had just been spayed. There were lots to choose from, but Campfire stood out. She had a beautiful long tri-colored coat and was super-friendly. She loved being held by my mom and when you meowed at her, she meowed back! She was 5-months old so a bit more mature with an established routine.” Haley fell head-over-paws in love and took the kitten home on December 21st.

Campfire not only got a new home, but a new name for her new life. Haley shared “My partner Laura and I named her Ru Paul. We love the show RuPaul’s Drag Race and thought we would honour our kitten by naming her after a favorite celebrity.”

Ru Paul (Ru for short) adapted quickly to her new home. “She was greeted calmly by our dog Meave, a Wolfhound/greyhound cross who’s a gentle giant,” said Laura. “Ru took several days to warm up to Meave but they became good friends. Since day one, Ru has always stuck close by our side through the day and night. She even slept on our chest and heads the first night she came home!”

Ten months after adopting Ru, Haley and Laura decided Ru needed a playmate. Haley explained “Ru was an active kitten, but once she matured, she loved to laze around and seemed a bit lonely. We often take Meave with us on outings and we felt bad leaving Ru home alone for the day. We wanted to get her a playmate to keep her company and get her a bit more active around the house.”

That’s where kitten number 2 comes in. She was brought to the Yarmouth SPCA in October 2023 as part of an accidental litter but was transferred to the Kings Shelter due to lack of space. The kitten had a severe upper respiratory infection and ended up being treated for yellow discharge from her poor little nose. Shelter staff named her Vicky. Sweet Vicky waited patiently for a family to call her own. She would soon meet Haley and Laura and that’s when her life changed.

On November 12th the couple went back to the Kings Shelter because they had adopted Ru there and she was such a great kitty. “A number of the cats needed special care or a single-pet home, which wouldn’t work for our lifestyle,” said Haley. “Then we spotted two 12-week-old black-and-white kittens. One of the kittens came up to Laura’s hand and wanted to be cuddled. Laura held her for 30 minutes and the kitten didn’t even move. She loved the attention and constantly tried to lick us. Knowing how affectionate Ru was, we knew that Vicky would be a great fit. We changed her name to Raja after another one of our favorite characters on Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”

Interestingly, it wasn’t love at first sight for Ru and Raja. “Ru would do a low growl when Raja came near her and Raja would hiss at her,” recalled Laura. “Like the two celebrities they’re named after, they were uncompromising and not afraid to speak their minds!” chuckled Haley. “Raja was scared of Meave for the first few weeks, but over time, they learned to co-exist as roommates and will even take naps together.”

Soon, Ru and Raja became BFF’s and are inseparable. Laura shared “They love to chase each other around the house and eat treats. They will sit together on their window perch or by the screen door and watch the birds and bugs outside. If anyone sits or lays down, either Ru or Raja will come running and lay on you. Ru loves going under the covers and laying on our heated blanket. Raja loves Q-tips and will pull them out of the garbage can. They both LOVE to cuddle and are always looking for attention.”

There hasn’t been a dull moment in the house since adopting Ru and Raja. Haley chuckled “At times I work from home and it’s not long before they are both walking all over my keyboard and distracting me. They love to sit on the edge of the bathtub while it is in use – not one at a time, but together. Often Ru’s fluffy tail will dip into the water. Raja will think it’s a game and try to play with the drips and water on her tail. One day, Raja got so distracted doing this that she lost her footing and fell into the tub! Ru took off, not wanting to be the next victim and Raja zoomed out of the tub faster than she fell in! Although it was a good lesson for Raja, it has not deterred her from joining Ru on the edge of the tub.”

“Ru and Raja have added so much joy to our life”, said the couple. “It’s fun to see them explore and try to guess what they will get into next! Their loving personalities spoke so loud to us at the SPCA and they have not disappointed. They love us as much as we love them.”

If this story of purr-fect friendship has inspired you, please donate to help more homeless kitties like Ru and Raja go from rough starts to strutting the cat-walk!

Judy Layne

Judy is a dedicated volunteer with the Nova Scotia SPCA. She is committed to speaking for animals who cannot speak for themselves.