Willie Ortiz, a scrap metal worker in Hartford, Connecticut, has spent the past 22 years feeding and caring for 68 feral cats, consisting of 16 colonies in total. He hasn't missed a single day. Neither rain nor snow has stopped this 76-year-old Army veteran from his mission.
Ortiz, originally from Puerto Rico, feeds the cats every night at 7pm. He also attends to all their vet needs and tries to see that they have proper shelter. This includes trapping, spaying and neutering all newcomers to avoid unnecessary expansion of the colonies.
But the colonies expand, anyway. Many of them are strays abandoned in the area by their former owners. If any of them are adoptable, Ortiz finds them homes. But some of them are too feral and must be released back on the street.
To fund his activities, Ortiz drives around neighborhoods in the morning, looking for scrap metal to sell. A friend, Kathleen Schlentz, set up a GoFundMe campaign in February 2016. Local rescues and neighbors have also taken notice and helped out.
Ortiz told the Hartford Courant that he originally came up with the idea in 1995 after he saw a stray cat begging at a local auto body shop. As he saw the cat shoved aside again and again, he said it broke his heart to see the cat in so much need, ignored. So, he began to feed the local strays behind Hartford Hospital, where he used to work. This soon turned into trapping and neutering them, and tending to their medical needs, as well.
Though a busy and devoted husband for 53 years, a father of two and a grandfather of four, Ortiz has still managed to find the time to take care of the feral cats in his neighborhood. He says that he will continue to do so as long as he can and has set up a savings account from the donation money raised to ensure his charges are cared for after he is gone.
Make sure to share this with all your friends and help keep the street cats of Hartford happy and well-fed.