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Holy catrimony, what a unique event




What does a feline do with four designer wedding dresses?

Well, if you’re Vincent D. Cat, the savvy three-legged spokescat for Rikki’s Refuge Animal Sanctuary in Orange, you auction them to raise money for the shelter that saved your life and the lives of 1,300 of your closest friends.

The auction begins today on eBay and runs through April 8. Bidding for the dresses should start about $750, said Melissa Felts, a volunteer and board member at Rikki’s.

“I’m hoping it’ll go up from there,” she said.

Vincent actually won the dresses several months ago. You see, Purina Fancy Feast—one of his favorite meals—débuted a television commercial last year called “The Engagement.”

In it, a man proposes to his girlfriend by giving her a white Persian kitten with a charm around its neck that says, “Will you marry us?”

Viewers were then asked to vote via Facebook on which of three wedding dresses they wanted the bride to wear in the sequel commercial, titled “Storybook Wedding.”

After that, Fancy Feast held a contest on Facebook, awarding the remaining two dresses to the cat rescue that could garner the most votes in 24 hours.

Vincent marshaled his friends, and Rikki’s Refuge won by just one vote.

But the best was yet to come. When the dresses arrived, there were four, not two.

Fancy Feast had purchased two copies of each of the three dresses because it didn’t know which one would ultimately win the online vote, and it wanted to have a backup of each in case the winning dress was damaged during the filming.

So Rikki’s Refuge received four dresses by designer Amsale Aberra: two copies of “Kendall,” a strapless silk trumpet gown with a crystal beaded belt, and two copies of “Calista,” a strapless A-line gown with a satin bodice and tulle skirt. Each of the ivory gowns retails for $4,500 to $5,000.

The dresses are what Felts calls a couture size 10, meaning they’ll fit best on women who normally wear a size 6.

The money raised will come in handy at Rikki’s Refuge, where it costs about $1,300 a day to care for all the animals. About 600 of the sanctuary’s residents are cats like Vincent, but the 380-acre refuge is also home to goats, emus, sheep, potbellied pigs, peacocks, chickens, ducks, horses, guinea pigs, dogs and at least one cow.

Vincent, a 12-year resident of Rikki’s, visits local schools to teach compassion for the disabled as well as the importance of spaying and neutering pets.

He placed second last year in Bissell’s Most Valuable Pet photo contest—out of more than 40,000 entries—so his face will soon appear on packaging for the manufacturer of cleaning products and vacuums.

His dream, said Felts, is to replace the pretty little white Persian cat on the Fancy Feast labels.

“One of these days,” she said, “we’re hoping they’ll say, ‘We need to go for a more basic cat.’”


For more information about the designer wedding dresses being auctioned by Rikki’s Refuge, visit The eBay auction begins Sunday at noon and runs until April 8.

Rikki’s Refuge is a nonprofit animal sanctuary in Orange where about 1,300 animals—including 22 different species—live. To learn more about the refuge, visit


Edie Gross: 540/374-5428