Willie Ortiz is a champion for stray and feral cats where others turned a blind eye.
Watching people ignore a starving kitten, Willie knew the homeless cats of Hartford, CT, needed a human on their side. “People were pushing it away, and I could see it needed help,” Willie said.
Turns out, Willie was just that “someone” the cats needed.
Willie witnessed that incident more than twenty years ago. Since then, he’s barely missed a day or night caring for the stray and feral cat community in Hartford and surrounding towns. The only exception to this routine happens on nights when more than three inches of snow blanket the city. Such conditions are dangerous for kitties and having them leave their warm nests is too risky.
“If it snows more than three inches, I don’t go because I don’t want them getting their bellies wet and cold,” Willie said. “But I’ll go the next night and feed them double.”
Hard Work, But Worth Every Minute
In his late seventies, when he could be kicking back and taking it easy, Willie starts his day by gathering scrap metal. He then sells everything he collects for cash to support cats. With the proceeds of scrap sales, Willie invests in cat food and medical care, including having the cats spayed and neutered.
The vet care keeps the wild community healthy, stopping the spread of diseases and parasites among the kitties. By having the felines sterilized and vaccinated, the population remains healthy and under control. The cats help reduce rodent and vermin populations but in having their help, humans owe them a helping hand, too.
Which is exactly what Willie does.
When night falls, Willie sets out on the town armed with sardines and cans of cat food. His recipients eat well, and they are more than thankful. If he happens upon an ill or injured cat, Willie packs the cat up and takes it to a vet. No sick cats on his watch!
Willie’s Kindness is an Inspiration
Inspired by Willie’s commitment, Kathleen Schlentz started a GoFundMe for Willie and his cats. The donation page has been running for a few years now and still receives regular donations. According to the page, Willie cares for 16 separate colonies of cats. That’s a lot of hungry mouths, and every donation is appreciated.
Willie and Kathleen working together…
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Willie is a husband, father, grandfather, and all-around animal lover. When it comes to helping the stray and feral cats in Hartford, he said, “I know these cats can’t understand my accent, but I need to do something.”
We appreciate your every effort, Mr. Ortiz!