Fred, the beloved ATV-riding cat, mourned after tragic accident

Stephen Miller/CBC

Fred, the ATV-riding cat who captured the hearts of many with his larger-than-life fursona, was struck and killed early Wednesday morning on the road near his home.

Steve Martin and Dena Eales, who adopted and adored Fred, were devastated by the loss. To them, Fred was family.

"I couldn't move, he was my shadow. No matter where I was, he was with me, especially here on the property," Martin said.

Formerly feral and rescued from a dump in Lethbridge, N.L., by a group called Feral Felines Rescue and Rehabilitation, Fred became a changed cat while living at the hobby farm with his owners and a plethora of other animals.

Stephen Miller/CBC

Despite not knowing his true age, his owners expected him to be with them for many more years. When a friend came to their door early in the morning with the news, they were shocked.

"I grabbed my coat, put on my boots and told Dena, 'Come out, Fred is after being hit," Martin said. 

"So I picked him up, Dena came running — in tears, of course — and we brought him in, laid him on the counter and wrapped him up in a blanket … and that was it"

Famous Feline

Fred attracted attention online with the videos of his ATV adventures that Eales and Martin posted on his rescue organization's Facebook page. His rehabilitation from vicious junkyard cat to lovable furball even earned him his own children's book, with proceeds going to the rescue organization.

Some fans even took a trip to see him in person.

"We had three ladies come here just after the book was released. They had no business in town; they came from Marystown to meet Fred," Martin said.

submitted photo

Fred was loved, or at the very least, tolerated, by the many other animals that lived on the farm. Fred got along with the horses, the Chinese goose, the potbellied pigs and the pygmy goat … but none fancied him more than his female feline counterpart.

The aptly named Little Girl has been noticeably distressed by Fred's absence. Eales and Martin plan on rescuing two new feline friends for her to hopefully befriend, but those aren't their only plans.

Stephen Miller/CBC

"I've tried to put her on the quad a couple of times, but I think she's not liking the noise. So that's our next venture now, to get her used to the bike and probably carry on Fred's legacy," Martin said.

Martin says he's doing his best to be strong for Eales, but he's had moments where he's broken down.

"I did have my little spurt, twice actually," Martin said.

"I'm expecting I'm gonna have another one tonight. I'm surprised I didn't have one yet doing this interview."

He was unique. I can't believe he's gone - Dena Eales

Since going public with the news of Fred's passing, condolences have been constant, some from as far away as Florida. 

"I've been reading lots of messages on Facebook … I didn't realize how many people followed him," Eales said.

Stephen Miller/CBC

Although it was Fred's all-terrain shenanigans that earned him his fame, for Eales, it was not the most remarkable thing about him.

"For a cat to jump on a quad and go for a ride, quite different. But he'd eat the face off of you, claw the eyes out of you when you first got him," Eales said. 

"And then a year later he was up and in your arms cuddling you. So it's just quite a change." 

Stephen Miller/CBC

Eales said she's been crying non-stop since losing Fred. She knows healing will take time, but Fred will always have a special place in her heart and she plans to visit his grave daily.

"He was unique. I can't believe he's gone. He loved his humans, he did," Eales said. "I have to say … he loved his humans."

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