A retired veteran is on a lifetime mission: feeding stray cats and making sure they are loved and well taken care of.
To do this, he had to collect scrap metals and sell them. He has been doing it for the last 28 years and doesn’t have any intention to stop.
82-year-old Willie Ortiz has an exceptional love for cats which started in 1995 when he came across a hungry stray cat begging for food. While people were ignoring and shoving the cat away, Ortiz instantly acknowledged that it needed help.
He started feeding the cat which led him to a shocking discovery that there were several colonies of stray cats throughout Hartford in need of food and proper care.
Since then, Ortiz devoted his life to feeding stray cats and looking after them. Though not everyone understood his decision, people’s negative feedback did not hinder him from doing what he wanted.
Ortiz shared that people asked them why he fed cats every day or that he fed them too much. “You eat every day, no? You get three meals; they eat once every 24 hours.” This was what he would reply to them.
Ortiz would also trap and release feral cats and collect kittens then place them for adoption. When they were sick, he would take them to the vet to have them spayed or neutered.
However, the cost of the cats’ medical care increased as he collected more kittens. For nearly 70 kittens, he had to spend $600 on their food alone.
To continue his mission, he started collecting scrap metals to sell them and pay for the cats’ food and medical services.
He would do it regardless of the weather; the only exception was if it was snowing so much. “If it snows more than three inches, I don’t go because I don’t want them getting their bellies wet and cold,” Ortiz said. “But I’ll go the next morning and feed them double.”
Ortiz looked for scrap metal every single day and also had connections with some businesses who donated their scrap metal to him. If he could sell them for a higher price, he would do it on Craigslist to make a little more money for his feline friends.
Feeding 16 colonies of stray and feral cats was not difficult for Ortiz but what made it hard for him was the cost of their food and medical care.
To help the kind veteran, his friend Kathleen Schlentz set up a GoFundMe for Ortiz’s cats. This is also to honor the noble work that her friend has been doing for the animals for many years.
Schlentz shared that all of Ortiz’s cats are healthy, and he has been feeding some of them for over 15 years. “As you can see, Willie is completely dedicated to his cats. Knowing Willie has been a very humbling experience for me and I am so thankful to call him my friend,” Schlentz wrote on Ortiz’s GoFundMe page.
“Please support Willie and his cats, if at all possible. By donating to this campaign, you have not only helped these innocent cats live longer, healthier lives, but you have also helped with the solution to a very big problem in the Hartford and East Hartford Communities,” Schlentz added.
Ortiz is a U.S. Army veteran and has a loving wife of 62 years, two children, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Though he has a big and happy family, his life became even more meaningful when he started his mission of feeding stray cats.
“I have never met a more committed person; Willie unknowingly inspires me in so many ways. 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,” wrote Schlentz.
Watch Ortiz’s undying love for cats in the video below: