Eyes of a Friend

Life with companion animals

My brother’s herd…

on January 4, 2009


My brother died August 31st, 2008. What mattered most to him was being a father and being a soldier… and his cats…the cats he had to leave behind that now need new homes.

Dick was a career soldier in the U.S. Army and retired as a Staff Sgt. in the early ’90’s. He served in Korea, Germany, Honduras and other duty sites. He was born shortly before the U.S. entered WWII, and knew he always wanted to be a soldier. We grew up in Phoenix and when he retired, he returned to the valley to live. He had always loved cats, and there are many homeless cats living in most neighborhoods. When he lived in Scottsdale, he took in a mother cat nursing 5 kittens – the “kittens” are now about 10 years old. When he moved to Mesa, he took in a male kitten left under a box in a shopping cart in a grocery parking lot — in the middle of summer! Then he noticed that one of the stray cats he was feeding outdoors was pregnant – in she came and gave him 6 beautiful kittens. Later that year, another outdoor female had a litter, and after gaining their trust, he brought her and her 4 babies indoors. Next he made a major mistake, in my opinion, anyway – he did not get the newest ones spayed/neutered. He was working only part-time and living on his Army retirement, but he still should have gotten them altered. I kept nagging him about it, and when we found that he could qualify for the Maricopa County Animal Care and Controls “Big Fix” Program to get free vouchers to the Spay/Neuter Clinic, we finally started working on getting the appointments and getting them fixed. Almost all were done before he became too ill to catch/crate them, but the total living with him inside was already 37 — well, that was the number that we came up with when he and I made a list. After a few weeks of caring for the cats, I found a few “new ones” under the sink and in a cabinet – the new count brought it to about 40. Outdoors, there was a mama with two batches of kittens (spring litter of 3 and summer litter of 4) living in the carport, and two tomcats who fuss with each other while eating.

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