Travis thought he wanted a dog. But it was an adult cat in a Florida animal shelter that made the Army veteran reconsider his adoption plans.
The dignity of service
After separating from service Travis moved to Florida, where he currently works for the local county utilities. Life for the post-9/11 veteran is far more tranquil than during his tour of duty overseas.
Travis served during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and the lesser known Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). The latter was a military campaign with partner nations to eliminate the threat of ISIS in Iraq and around the world.
During his service Travis spent time in Taji and Al Taqaddum, Iraq. He served as a culinary specialist, or 92G, responsible for preparing and serving food in theater.
Napoleon Bonaparte is believed to have said, “An Army marches on its stomach.”
Travis was aware that his job was a vital part of helping fellow service members maintain optimal health and combat readiness. He recalls a particularly memorable moment during his deployment to Iraq.
“Serving hot breakfast to the Marines who spent all night on the lines,” he recalls. “They were thankful to just have a hot meal.”
Filling an empty nest
In July 2019 Travis applied to Pets for Patriots with the hope of adopting a companion pet. Like many veterans we serve, he found us online.
“We heard a story about pets for Patriots and decided to see if we even qualify for the program,” he shares. “Took us a while to make the decision of what pet to look for.”
At the time he applied, the Army veteran expressed interest in a dog. About 85 percent of companion pets adopted through our program are dogs. Still, cats are eligible for adoption as well as long as they are either adult cats, those with special needs, or have been homeless for six months or more.
Travis looked to pet adoption as a way to fill his empty nest.
“We were looking for a pet to complete our family. Our kids have all grown and moved out,” he says. “Time to fill that empty room with none other than a cat.”
Perhaps the Army veteran was surprised that he and his wife decided on a cat. And not just any feline, mind you, but an adult cat who would fill their empty nest with joy.
Adult cat makes herself at home
Nearly six months after he was approved into our program Travis went to Humane Society of Pinellas.
Since 2010, the shelter has worked with us to find loving homes for some of the more overlooked dogs and cats in their care. The organization waives pet adoption fees for veterans in our program, and offers a three-day hold for individuals who are in the process of applying to Pets for Patriots.
Kitty Kat was one such pet. At the time – just days after Christmas – she was a six year-old adult cat. She is mostly black with distinctive white patches, including on her nose.
Travis was determined to adopt a more mature pet.
“We selected a six year-old cat,” he says. “Most people tend to over look the older animals. Yes, an older animal could have health issues or concerns, but just like humans they become themselves.”
The Army veteran believes that when you adopt an older or senior pet what you see is what you get. He liked the fact that Kitty Kat was already mature and more subdued than a kitten; Travis was not looking for a “wild child.”
Kitty Kat wasted no time getting adjusted to her new life. She has been getting acquainted with the couple’s dog, but is not a fan of every creature in the house.
“She is still not sure about the robot vacuum,” Travis observes.
Still – although she tips the scales at just over 12 pounds – the adult cat has already made big changes in Travis’ well-being and routine.
“The cat has allowed us to step back and relax,” he shares. “We use to spend hours just watching Netflix. Now we have to take turns entertaining the cat.”
Thank you Travis! I am a fairly new volunteer at HSP and loved hearing your story.
I envy you, Travis! I am 98 and miss my 18-year old cat that died a year ago. I yearn for a cat, but it’s not in the cards for me any more.
Thank you for your service and your decision to save an older shelter pet, especially a cat. There is such a tremendous need for getting adult cats homes. Once again thank you!
Way to go Travis. Kitty Kat is a beautiful Cat and 6 years old for a Cat is not that old, you and your family should have many years of happiness with Kitty Kat.
Last but not least, thank you for your service Travis, good luck to you, your family and naturally Kitty Kat!
John A. Smaldone
US Air Force Veteran
PS: We adopted a Dog named Copper through Beth and Pets For Patriots, great people and Copper is doing great!
Thank you! She has quickly taken ownership of the entire house. Anything she can lay on becomes hers. I left the ironing board up and now she thinks it’s her new perch.
Beautiful, heartwarming story. Congratulations to KittyKat and her new family. Thanks to Pinellas shelter for participating.
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