It all began when Akslfak shared a photo of Refurb's crazy smile on Imgur and the photo went viral, even making it to the site's front page. At this point, a friend of him sent him a link to the photo telling him the featured cat looked a lot like his. It was.
"I thought it was funny, so I relayed this story on the Something Awful forums just as an interesting anecdote," Akslfak recalls, adding that, "one of the users joked about whether the friend asked for an autograph, and another user responded jokingly that he'd pay for a Refurb autograph - just a little paw print or something."
Akslfak said he replied "somewhat sarcastically" to the comment by saying that if the commenter were to donate $10 to his local animal shelter, he would mail him a paw autograph of Refurb's.
"I figured he wouldn't do it," he adds.
But he did. And so did many more people across the country and the world.
"Less than a week later, there had been 35 donations from all over the US, and six different countries across four continents. Donations are still coming in, too," Akslfak said.
By the time Akslfak shared his story on Imgur, $900 had been donated to animal shelters all over the world "by strangers on the internet. [For] buying autographs of my cat," he writes.
"Now I have to mail dozens of these out. To strangers. From the internet. This is by a wide margin the silliest thing that I have ever done, and yet I don't feel that silly about having helped out some animals that need it," Akslfak said. "However, I will feel silly when I go to the post office with a postcard of my cat's paw print, asking for postage to Australia."