Feral cats are a real problem in most cities and urban areas across the world. Uncared-for stray cats destroy native animal populations, overpopulate quickly, and even form packs.
One man is doing something about it, and the internet has his back.
Willie Ortiz from Hartford, Connecticut, has been looking after stray cats for 21 years. He’s now 75, and he usually pays for hundreds of cats’ care, including kibble and all-important vet visits to keep parasite (and kitty) populations low. Ortiz takes nightly trips around Hartford, kibble and treats in hand, forming bonds with feral cats, feeding and grooming them, and collecting the ones that need vet visits. He does it all on his own time, out of his own pocket.
A friend set up a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising money so Willie could help more cats. The money came in slowly, in bits every few months, until one donor asked Ortiz if he could post Ortiz’s cause to Reddit.
“I thought ‘sure, why not,’ ” Ortiz’ friend, Kathleen Schlentz said, and she told Ortiz so. “I figured every little bit helps.”
The post, unsurprisingly, went viral on Reddit, and money began to pour in from countries around the world.
“I thought it was a mistake at first; I had never seen anything in my life like that. When I called Willie to tell him, he was practically in tears,” Schlentz said.
About the fundraiser, Willie Ortiz said, “I just couldn’t believe it. It’s wonderful that so many people care so much about the animals.”
He used almost every bit of the money on kibble and vet visits for the cats. Though, with a little bit of coaxing from Kathleen, Ortiz used some of it to replace his dilapidated old truck that he uses in his scrap-metal business – the business that funds his cat-saving endeavors. He’s saving every bit of money he can and socking it away for later, so that when he dies, he can pass on his mission to someone else.
“I do this because I love it. This is gonna help me keep doing it until I die, and maybe keep it alive after that.” – Willie Ortiz.
In the case of his death Willie has put strict instructions in his will that his money should all go to helping out animal rescue organizations.
You can donate to the cause here.