Abandoned Cats Have a Friend For Life in Willie Ortiz

This scrap metal collector has a long-term soft spot for strays.


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Come rain or shine, Willie Ortiz, pushing 80, has made it his mission to feed and care for stray cats in Connecticut for over 25 years. But for all this time he has led something of a double life: by day he collects scrap metal to fund his continuing evening mission to help homeless felines in need. He readily admits that while his calling is difficult, this is his life, and it brings him joy.

As you can imagine, Ortiz’s day is not your typical nine to five. Every morning, he starts his day by driving around on the lookout for scraps he can collect and sell. Each evening, he leaves home with tins of sardines and dried food to feed the cats, visiting them in their favorite haunts. While there, he checks on their health.

This Hartford resident’s care goes beyond providing food and love. He also pays out of his own pocket to ensure that each cat is spayed or neutered. This ensures that the stray feline population is held in check. Most cats appear healthy and well-fed. If a cat is sick or injured, however, he will collect them and get them the medical care they need, paying for this treatment himself. Ortiz keeps a stock of cat “cages” in the trunk of his car so he can transport them if needed. He also builds “cubby holes” to serve as shelters from cold winters.

This compassion for strays has not gone unnoticed by fellow animal-lovers. One friend named Kathleen Schlentz, set up a GoFundMe page for Ortiz four years back, drawing attention to the fact that he feeds 16 colonies of stray and feral cats. She says “I have never met a more committed person – Willie unknowingly inspires me in so many ways,”. She feels proud to know a person like him: “Knowing him has made my life better, just by doing what he does so effortlessly. He is a loving, caring, and honest man who believes very strongly in God and all of his goodness, despite the pain and sadness he sees.”

After the fundraising mission was posted on Reddit a few months later, funds grew, and donors contributed from several countries including India, Germany and Portugal. When the proceeds reached a five-figure sum which was used to help countless felines, the funds had their tax-exempt status approved.

Ortiz remains moved that so many people care so much about the animals. As he feels that this cause is greater than him, he has prepared instructions for his family on handing over any extra cash to organizations caring for stray and abandoned animals when he can no longer get involved himself.

Over the years, people have questioned why this kindhearted army veteran, originally from Puerto Rico, didn’t decide to adopt some of these strays and bring them home. But since he saw a hungry kitten begging for food and being pushed away by heartless locals in 1995, he realized that protecting  “street cats” would give him a sense of purpose.

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#Repost from @chl0ster with @regram.app ... #Repost @vegan.femme ・・・ #WillieOrtiz is a 76-year-old retired veteran in Hartford, #Connecticut. Willie has been a school bus driver, mechanic, and a welder at the Hartford Hospital. Now, he spends his days helping our feline friends. Willie has been feeding the feral and stray cats in his community every day for more than 20 years! He drives 22 miles every day to 16 different stops. He pays for the cats’ food on his own, so to help foot the bill, he collects and sells scrap metal. Now, thankfully, he has help! In 2016, Willie’s friend, Kathleen Schlentz set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Willie’s efforts. Over $39,000 have been raised to help him buy supplies and care for the feral and stray cats, well surpassing the original goal of $5,000. Amazing! Not only does Willie feed the cats, he also traps them to be #spayed/#neutered. Dr. William Haines, a veterinarian at Hartford Veterinary Hospital, helps Willie with spaying or neutering, vaccines and booster shots, and other basic care. Willie spends $33 a day to feed the cats, the additional money raised will help pay for food, surgeries, medication, as well as medical care. He might also use some of the money to buy a more reliable truck. For 12 years, Willie has never taken a day off. Willie plans to continue caring for the cats for as long as he can. What a heart of gold! The cats of Connecticut are lucky to have Willie. ⭐️If you would like to help Willie’s mission to help stray and feral cats, you can donate to the GoFundMe page by going here ➡️ http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/retired-veteran-takes-care-of-feral-cats/

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