Homeless Cat Restores Joy to Grieving Army Veteran

Receiving the awful diagnosis of feline leukemia and incurable cancer for the family cat was made agonizingly worse by watching him struggle to breathe. Faced with a declining quality of life, Kat and her family made the difficult decision to put him to sleep.

Adopting another cat was not in the family’s immediate plans, but two weeks later, Kat realized her home was eerily quiet and felt empty and lonely. She resolved to honor her cat’s life by spending some free time in the community room with the Humane Society of Harford County’s (HSHC) homeless cats.

Army Strong

Kat joined the Army National Guard right after high school as a Small Arms Artillery Repair Sergeant. “I wanted to get a bigger perspective on life, see the world and travel, all the while making a difference and leaving a positive impact wherever I went,” she says. “Being a guardsman I was also involved in helping victims from the flood waters during Hurricane Sandy and patrolled the streets in the Baltimore Riots. I became a Veteran serving a tour in Iraq in 2018.”

Feline Feel-Good Therapy

While trying to channel her grief by doing something good, Kat fired up her computer and decided to check out HSHC’s website at www.harfordshelter.org. “I had visited a long time ago,” she says. “I remember there were cats I could interact with in the community cat room who might appreciate some company. It would be a win/win for all involved, so I went online to check out their hours and if visiting would be okay. Information for Pets for Patriots popped up as I browsed the site and thought it sounded like a wonderful program that I’d be interested when it was time to adopt.”

Pets for Patriots, Inc. is a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to helping United States military personnel and veterans adopt a new pet friend while giving the most overlooked shelter dogs and cats hope and a home.

Since 2013, HSHC has offered veterans in the Pets for Patriots program access to reduced adoption fees for program-eligible dogs and cats. Several veterinarians in Harford County also offer ongoing discounts on medical care.

“I visited the shelter multiple times, and it really did make me feel better,” Kat added.

Love at First Paw

After being accepted into the Pets for Patriots program, a free process that took just a few days, Kat came back to HSHC with her family.

“As we walked past the glass cages, a cat named Euro caught everyone’s attention. He was laying on his back looking at us and pawing at the air as if to say, ‘Look at me!’”

Kat’s family was shown to one of the shelter’s meet & greet rooms where Euro joined them to play and interact with everyone. “He reminded me a lot of my old cat. He let us pick him up and hold him with no fuss at all. He was very mellow, but playful too.”

Yet the family went home empty-handed. “We all loved him and after a night of thinking it over, I came back and adopted my new best friend the very next morning! The adoption process was easy and quick. The staff was very kind and went over the paperwork with me and even let Euro keep his toys.”

Healing Presence

Several weeks after the adoption, Kat reports that Euro fits like a glove. “He quickly filled the quiet void in the house with his chipper and playful personality,” she says. “He likes to give little meows to the birds at the window and enjoys pawing at pretend fish on my tablet!”

“He follows me everywhere and lays down on my feet whether I’m cooking, reading, or taking a nap. When he wants to play, he brings me one of his toys; but his favorite by far is a braided fabric rope he got from HSHC. It’s the only one he brings onto my bed almost every night when its time to go to sleep.”

A Hero’s Reward

Kat believes Pets for Patriots is a valuable resource for veterans interested in adopting companion pets – and they have her back. “Pets for Patriots really helped me out when I adopted Euro. They offered a gift card to stock up on all his needs (food, collar, litter, and treats).”

This support came at the perfect time. “After the expense of two months of medication to treat my old cat, emergency visits, bloodwork, and multiple x-rays, the gift card was a major help! Even now we are still stocked up on the things he needs.”

HSHC happened to be running a monthly adoption special that made Euro’s adoption more affordable than what Pets for Patriots offered.

“With all the discounts and financial support from both HSHC and Pets for Patriots, I can focus on saving for Euro’s future vet costs, and for that, I am very grateful!