For the past 27 years, Willie Ortiz has spent his days searching for scrap metal to sell to feed and care for feral cats in Hartford, Connecticut.
He drives his pickup truck from town to town looking for any scraps that can be sold to pay for cat food and vet bills for over 70 stray and feral cats.
The 80-year-old U.S. Army veteran makes sure no cat goes hungry and visits the community cats daily to feed and check in on them.
Providing for the stray and feral cats has become his life mission, and it all began decades ago when he noticed the overwhelming number of homeless cats in his community.
He decided to do something about it.
Ever since that first day, his love and devotion to the stray and feral felines has not wavered.
Aside from making sure their bellies are full, Ortiz hopes to reduce the amount of feral cats by having each spayed/neutered and vaccinated. In addition, he makes “cubby holes” to keep the cats warm during the winter and brings pregnant felines to his friend, Roberta, who cares for the cats until they can find forever homes.
Even though he searches every day for metal scraps, he still comes up short.
Ortiz’s good friend and helper, Kathleen Schlentz, created a GoFundMe page years ago to raise funds to help cover the cost of spaying/neutering and food for the 19 feral cat communities the veteran cares for.
“Donations made to this campaign will be used to help keep the cats fed, secure his mission for years to come, and allow him to get more cats spayed, neutered, vaccinated and fed — all of which costs at least $76.00 per cat,” states the campaign.
The original goal has been surpassed but people continue to donate as the cost to feed and care for the cats is an ongoing expense.
Recently, Ortiz had to rely on Schlentz and others to feed and care for his beloved cats as he recovered from a broken foot.
Schlentz provided an update in which she said, “I know now why Willie calls this ‘his mission’. This is not just a hobby or something he does to fill his time, this is something that is a part of who he is.”
Being away from his feline friends for just one day was torture for Ortiz.
“I have asked him if he ever dreads having to go out every night, he said ‘No, I miss them when I don’t see them and they miss me’. Does he ever want to skip a night? He said ‘I eat everyday, they eat everyday’. He makes life seems so simple. I love that about Willie,” wrote Schlentz.
Ortiz and his wife Aleja have resumed all the feedings and do so without complaint. The past four months were long and hard for the cat lover, but he has been reunited his cats and thanks everyone for their support.
Ortiz has not only inspired his friends and community with his generous heart, but people across the country who have donated to his cause.
The world is a better place thanks to people like Ortiz.