Counting Cats: An EKU Math Grad’s Mission to Save Strays

Published on May 29, 2024

By Lexie Barth

Rosalie (Rose) Richburg, ’23, moved from Texas to Richmond with her family when she was 8 years old. The Richburg family thought the biggest adjustment to moving would be getting acclimated to a new environment, but it turned out to be something far different: stray cats, with one large population located right across the street from her home. 

Rose and her family were alarmed by the issue, so they set out to be a part of the solution. The Little Muffins Kitten Rescue was officially established in May 2023 by Rose and her sisters, Amy Richburg, ’24, and Hannah Richburg, ’20. The rescue is run and operated out of the Richburg home, with over 50 cats adopted to their forever homes since its establishment. 

“EKU graduates make a positive difference,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “Families like the Richburgs, as part of our larger Colonel family, show how dedicated EKU and its graduates are to improving Kentucky’s communities.” 

The Richburg sisters are three of seven siblings; all of whom have been or are currently  Colonels. The close-knit family chose EKU because of its affordability and proximity to home. For Rose, a math and statistics major, her education at EKU has impacted the work she does with the rescue. 

“My time at EKU as a student in the math department and tutoring for the math department fostered growth in my people and communication skills, which are vital to communicating with fosters, adopters or people who need help with kitties! The community of EKU also strengthened my confidence in myself,” she said. 

Rose wants to continue the work of rescuing and helping the community by working in the veterinary field, stating that the amount of strays outnumbers the volunteers and workers at the moment.   

“Most rescues and shelters are continually over capacity with animals in Kentucky,” Rose said. “We get messages almost every day. But there just aren't enough people for all the cats that need help.” 

According to Rose, there’s a massive quantity of stray cats that are dying or sick, which means more diseases spreading amongst the cat population. When the Little Muffins Kitten Rescue takes in these at-risk cats, they visit the local veterinarian or emergency veterinarian to help get the cats back to good health. The summer the Richburg sisters established the rescue, they spent thousands of dollars on emergency vet visits, food, litter and all other necessities to run the rescue. They were completely out of pocket in the beginning. 

The rescue now has its current costs covered by adoption fees and several donations from the community. The Richburg sisters hope the funding stream will continue so they can continue their good work of rescuing cats. Long-term, the Richburg sisters want to reorganize their health protocol and systems, find grant money and create a foster network. They also have plans to launch a campaign for fosters and increase their social reach. 

When discussing how the local community could get more involved, Rose mentioned a variety of actions people can take to make effective change on this issue. She encourages people to spay and neuter their pets, foster, make monetary or physical donations to local shelters if they are able, and volunteer at local shelters. 

“It’s easy to be governed by the need, but there’s an endless need. So you have to figure out what you can actually do, what you can actually healthily manage and then just do that. Because there are always more cats that need help,” Rose said. 

Currently, the rescue is holding 10 kittens in their home, nine kittens in foster homes, and one dog that they hope will be adopted soon. 

One cat at a time, Rose and the Richburg family are passionate about serving and contributing to their local community—emulating the very essence of EKU Colonels.