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The self-described “Youngest Old Cat Lady,” Ashley Morrison, will always be a shining star in the cat rescue world. With hundreds of thousands of social media fans and countless cats and kittens saved due to her love for animals. But more importantly, she was a bright light who brought incredible focus to the need to rescue and help cats and kittens. She loved “spreading happiness through mini lions,” as she humorously put it. She was also a mental health advocate and openly shared her struggles, which helped so many people. Sadly, on the night of Thursday, April 6th, 2023 Ashley’s pain ended and she joined her father in the beyond. 

Ashley’s journey wasn’t clearly laid out before her, and as many of us can attest, life can take unexpected turns. 

From February 18, 2022, Ashley’s Instagram post proves she was going through just that. 

10 years ago I was living in Los Angeles pursing acting. Stuck in a toxic relationship and very unsure of my future.

8 years ago I was entering a depression clinic to recover from trauma I had gone through in LA.

7 years ago I was unaware I was months away from losing my dad.

6.5 years ago I was fostering my first kittens and started Youngestoldcatlady.

6 years ago I was graduating college so confused about what to do with my life.

5 years ago I was working as a receptionist at a veterinary hospital.

4 years ago I was shocked by the online community growing around our love for felines and thinking about starting my own rescue.

3 years ago I left my full time job to run Youngestoldcatlady, rescue and run my Etsy store.

2 years ago I moved into my house, entered a global pandemic… and started a Non Profit @ashleyskittenacademy to start helping not just the cats in my care but cats state wide.

1 year ago I realized I can’t do it all on my own and had to prioritize my own life as well as the cats. Continuing to rescue but accepting more help from others.

My 20’s were absolutely nothing like I expected. If you told me I’d be running a cat business and rescue I would’ve laughed in your face.

I went through some lows I would never wish on anyone. But I also was blessed beyond belief with this community that helped me survive. I wouldn’t have survived a minute of it without my mom who supported me and helped house me even when I brought 30 cats home. She also helped me buy my home to continue what I am doing.

If you’re just going into your 20’s here’s the best advice I can give you:
• Leave toxic relationships. It’s not worth your time or sanity.
• Chase your passions. It’s the best time to explore what you want to do with your life. It’s ok to feel totally lost.
• Don’t spend your money on dumb sh*t. Save it.
• Tell someone if you miss them or love them. You might not get another chance.
• Life will move on wether you want it to or not. It may not look like what you wanted but it may be what you needed. If you feel stuck, things will change. Nothing is permanent, you can start over any day.

What advice would you give your younger self?

She understood that helping animals is a “community effort” and encouraged everyone to get involved. At the 2023 annual CatCon, Ashley hosted a workshop called “Paws and Reflect: Tails of How Fostering Changed My Life” with Youngest Old Cat Lady. But what Ashley may not have known, is that her “tail” changed the entire rescue community forever.

“I had no idea how much I would love helping them and they helped us in the same way,” she said of the kittens.

Ashley at CatCon 2022

Ashley at CatCon 2022. Images via Instagram/youngestoldcatgrandma

 

Youngest Old Cat Lady and Youngest Old Cat Grandma 

Her mother, Cindi Morrison, or “Youngest Old Cat Grandma,” helped her foster the furbabies and gave her daughter an award for “World’s Best Cat Photographer.”

Ashely with her mom Cindi

Ashely with her mom Cindi Morrison. Image via Ashley’s Kitten Academy

Ashley Morrison holding the trophy her mom gave her for best cat photography.

Ashley Morrison holding the trophy her mom gave her for best cat photography.

Ashley Morrison’s Incredible Rescue Work

As we shared previously, we will always LOVE her photos of her foster kittens and cats, which she elevated into an art form. She also had a unique skill for telling their stories in a personal, humorous, and touching way. Importantly, she didn’t just focus on adorable kittens but also loved helping older cats like Gus, who had big puffy tomcat cheeks.

If you need a role model on how to help find cats’ homes online, look no further than what she did during her many years of rescue work. She will always be an example of how to do it effectively and with unmatched ability and skill. And such skills make all the difference in finding foster cats a home.

Not to mention she was beyond silly when the mood hit right! 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Ashley Morrison (@youngestoldcatlady)

‘The Most Giving and Beautiful Youngest Old Cat Lady Forever’ 

A family friend named Cindy Olsen shared a beautiful statement about Ashley’s life and passing on, posted on Ashley’s mother’s page.

“It is with debilitating sadness in our hearts that Ashley’s family and I must deliver the unbearable news that she has passed away. Despite her own and her loving family and supporters’ efforts to get effective treatment for a brain chemistry too fragile for this world, she succumbed to her mental illness and chose to take her own life. Ashley has joined her dad, her beloved miniature Yorkie Emma, and countless other loved ones in heaven and will truly be the most giving and beautiful Youngest Old Cat Lady forever in our hearts.

Ashley’s time here on earth was far too short, but her legacy will live on in each of her followers’ memories and the families that she gifted with the 100’s of Mommy cats and kittens that she rescued and lovingly delivered to their families to bring them joy and warm their homes with the love of an animal for years to come. She built the @youngestoldcatlady brand day by day out of the love for what she was doing. It was a true passion for her and she loved her followers dearly. Ashley Morrison AKA the Youngest Old Cat Lady, Ashley's Kitten Academy

It came in response to a scheduled post Ashley had set up to go out on Sunday, shocking the cat community but urging others to keep going and caring for one another. What was heartwarming to see in the tragic moments that followed the social media post, the rescue community rallied by reaching out to local law enforcement to request welfare checks and trying to reach out to Ashley, not knowing it was sadly in vain. While this scheduled post has now raised issue with Instagram not reviewing it immediately and taking action that may have provided a different outcome, it doesn’t change the fact that we lost a beautiful soul that had been plagued by suffering for years. The mental health community now needs our help just as the animal welfare community does, with Ashley’s mission taken up by the masses. Let’s do her proud. 

“Hello all, Thank you for the years of support and a wonderful life you’ve given me. I don’t want anyone to take this as a sign to quit. I have been struggling for so long. I am so sorry I was not strong enough to continue. This battle is over for me. And with that, I am at peace. Please, take care of each other. ❤️ This is a scheduled post.”Ashley's final post picture

 

Morrison Shared Her Struggles

Morrison loved how her followers supported and defended her. Social media has too often become a place for toxic behavior from constantly divisive and often anonymous people. We believe our society must change to address and stop that damaging pattern. Instead, we desperately need to show each other more love and compassion! JUST BE KIND!

“Whenever someone would make a distasteful remark on her page, she loved how the rest of her followers came to her defense and often took care of the problem before she had even seen it. Thank you for all of the support and love you gave to her in so many ways. We hope that you have enjoyed the content that she has created here, as well as her devotion to her kitties and the rescue and TNR world.”

On her social media, Morrison was frank and talked about her struggles with mental health. It made her even more endearing and helped people struggling with similar issues. We will always cherish her life for that reason moreso.

“As you know, Ashley was very open about the issues she and so many others are facing with Mental Health. Please love and support each other in all the ways that you can, and know that she tried her very best to get help and heal herself. In the end, she just couldn’t face the struggle any longer. We encourage those struggling to keep fighting for your life and keep reaching out to get the help that you need,” Cindi wrote.

The Legacy of Her Amazing Life

The legacy of the Morrisons’ work will live on. Here’s how Cindi asked her followers to respond to the tragic loss.

“For those who have donated to her non-profit, Ashley’s Kitten Academy, she requested that the remaining funds be donated to the Lynnwood Feral Cat Spay & Neuter Clinic. They were an integral support for what she did, and she wished that every city had one.

In memory of her, donations can be made to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or an animal rescue or spay.”

You can follow Cindi on Instagram, and we encourage supportive comments for the family.

Ashley Morrison AKA the Youngest Old Cat Lady, Ashley's Kitten Academy, 2

 

We express our deepest sympathies to Ashley’s family and thousands of mourning followers.

Ashley may not have known all that she has done for and in the rescue community. For some, her strength to get out of bed each day was inspiring. Others, throwing herself into rescue work to make the world a better place and stop the suffering of animals was relatable. And for the extreme animal welfare individuals, her dedication to feral colonies and TNR efforts…climbing in a spooky, scary barn or not…showed us rescue isn’t easy but it’s worth it. Following along on social media with Ashley’s post, thousands of people saw, and will continue to see her, as a beacon of inspiration. Whether is was saving the life of a tiny kitten, a big scruffy street cat or simply making it through each day the best she could, Ashley’s own “tail” should serve as an opening to mental health discussions within the rescue community. It’s definitely not easy. And it’s not always rewarding. But we are in this together. Let’s make sure we are rescuing the rescuers as well! 

If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help. 988 is the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also reach out online at Crisis Text Line.

Below are our favorite stories we’ve gotten to share of Ashley over the years and her appearance on the local news to talk about her rescue work and how she got started on KING 5 Seattle:

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