What do a pit bull owner, a New York Philharmonic violist and two cats named Maggie and Dexter have in common?
It’s a new documentary about a very special and surprising feral cat colony caretaker living in New York.
Dorian Rence is a violist with the The New York Philharmonic by day and a feral cat caretaker by night (or in this case, early morning). She is a truly remarkable woman who shows incredible kindness to the beings in her midst with no help or recognition.
This film takes you through Dorian’s life – from her childhood growing up in a tiny town in Oklahoma through her journey to earn her seat on The Philharmonic at the young age of twenty-one. The film is brimming with gorgeous classical music that serves as the backdrop to the joys and sorrows that Dorian experiences in her life – personally, professionally, and as the unsung hero to the cats in her community.
The cast of characters will also warm your heart. You’ll meet her friend Brenda Johnson whose friendship supports Dorian in her mission to help the cats in New York’s cold and dirty tunnels. And Dr. Richard Fried of Lincoln Square Veterinary Clinic who helps Dorian with veterinary care for these animals.
If you enjoy a story about the human spirit, classical music or cats – you will love this movie. A surprising bonus for me was that my own cats gathered around as they seemed to really enjoy the beautiful music.
THE BACK STORY
Producer, Markie Hancock, a filmmaker and dog owner, felt compelled to tell the story of Dorian Rence when she noticed Dorian on her daily walks to a dog run for special needs dogs (one of her dogs can be aggressive with other dogs). Like many, she thought Dorian probably had a few screws loose:
“Every morning I would see this woman enter the dog run to feed the feral cats who were accessible through a wire fence at the back of the run. I wondered if she was maybe a little crazy but her dedication was impressive so I wasn’t sure.”
On her daily walks, Markie eventually befriended the woman. And one day, the woman (Dorian), told Markie that she wasn’t going to be around for three weeks and that she would be hiring someone to feed the cats. Intrigued, Markie asked Dorian where she was going, and to her surprise, Dorian explained that she was going to be on tour with the New York Philharmonic in Berlin, Vienna, Paris and London.
She wasn’t crazy. She was incredibly incredible.
Dorian has achieved the highest honor in music. She has expertly played her viola in the most prestigious orchestra in the world, has traveled the globe and played alongside the greatest musicians and conductors of our time. At the same time, she braves subzero temperatures to care for New York’s homeless cats. It’s a perfect paradox.
This act of devotion and kindness probably raises the eyebrows of other neighborhood cynics – but no longer for Markie. She saw Dorian’s relentless dedication to her music and the same relentless dedication to the cats. And for this steadfast dedication, she decided that Dorian’s story, and the story of feral cats, needed to be told.
An Iconic Cat Lady
Dorian represents so many who quietly lead this “double life” in some form or fashion. They partake in the daily hustle and bustle to make ends meet - but then take the time to notice their surroundings, and act to help those in need - be they human or animal.
In addition to helping community cats, Dorian has gone on to become the founder of the cat rescue, the Artemis Project. The film sheds light on the origins of the name.
In the film, Dorian says, “I don't really see much difference between my life and the life of a cat."
And that sort of says it all.
The world is a better place because of Dorian and people like her.
WATCH THE TRAILER
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- Share. Start by sharing this story. The more people know and are educated on this issue, the easier it will be to move this conversation along.
- Donate to your local animal shelter. Ask them if they care for any community cat colonies and ask that your donations go to support those efforts.
- Volunteer with a local shelter