A Life Well Lived


Caring for cats and people
By Alison Rentschler

Karlys “Kari” Koens lived a life that spread love and joy to all who knew her. Kari loved and cared for her family, friends and cats. Her faith was important to her, too. As a friend of hers for several years, I’ll miss her joyful spirit and our many fun adventures. Kari passed away on Nov. 2, 2018, as a result of a pedestrian-car accident while walking to work in Rochester, Minn. 

Cat Mom

Kari dearly loved her cats: Garfield, Toby, Abigail and a foster cat, Casanova.

From the stories she’d tell and the photos I followed on Kari’s Instagram feed
(@karik1018), I knew Garfield and Toby (aka “Miss Garfield” and “Master Tobias”) loved playing together. “Toby was always causing mischief,” says Kathryn Oakland, Kari’s roommate. “But she never got upset with him.”

Abigail, or “Abbygirl” as Kari often called her on Instagram, was a senior cat Kari adopted because she was sad that Abby had been in the shelter for a year. Kari entered Abigail in the Banfield Pet Hospital Birthday Pets Contest in October 2018 and spread the word to collect votes for her.

Kari was a self-proclaimed “cat mom,” as her Instagram hashtags noted, along with others like #ilovemycats.

“She would do anything for those cats,” remembers Oakland. “She made sure all three of her cats got love and attention, but she told me Garfield got privileges since she was here first. She would always say hello to Garfield first and make sure Garfield knew she loved her just as much even though she has new cats.”

Kari was inspired to adopt Ziva, her ocicat, in early 2017 after she met a stepsister’s ocicat and fell in love with the breed.

“She stopped by to see me on her way home from adopting Ziva. Ziva was a beautiful cat,” says Kari’s mother, Marlys Koens-Kool. Ziva passed away from FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis), an incurable feline disease, in September 2017, less than a year after Kari adopted her. Kari often posted about FIP on social media and hoped a cure would be found.

Early Love of Animals

“Kari loved animals from early on,” says Koens-Kool, and Kari’s mother recalls a cat named Annie they had when Kari was growing up in Lanesboro. She had many litters, but “Annie wouldn’t feed a litter. We brought the cats in and Kari fed them lovingly with an eyedropper. She took full responsibility for them.”

Kari also enjoyed dogs. “We had a miniature schnauzer that got old and we had to put to sleep. Kari stayed up all night the night before holding it,” remembers Koens-Kool.

Volunteering For Animals

Kari volunteered at Camp Companion in Rochester. “Kari had only recently joined our foster network but she had already shown her compassion and love for animals,” says Michele Quandt, director. “She fostered a senior pair named Ariel and Bonnie and was an advocate for them to stay together. Her next foster was Casanova who was still with her when she died.”

Kari also helped with Camp Companion events. “Kari helped at our adoption events and transport, but I think what she did the most is bring such a wonderful smile that gave happiness to anyone near her. Kari will be greatly missed.”

Kari’s spirit of compassion for animals and people is inspiring and I’ll always remember that.

Alison Rentschler is a writer and editor living in Rochester, Minn., with her cat and two dogs.

****** Kari’s cat Abigail was still looking for a forever home at press time. Contact Camp Companion with interest.