After unexpected loss, Marine veteran creates sunset home for old and ailing cats

After unexpected loss, Marine veteran creates sunset home for old and ailing cats

After the loss of a senior cat she adopted just months earlier, a Marine Corps veteran vows to give other cats in the sunset of their lives the retirement home they deserve.

This is CJ’s story as told in her own words. Luly Francis was 11 years old at the time of her adoption, and Caesar Paesar is 15.

The setting sun

On October 5th, after three weeks of supportive care for a sudden decline in health, it was discovered that Luly had long suffered from a heart murmur and widespread lymphoma. Her organs were now shutting down. It was devastating news, as she had been very special to me. She was laid to rest in my arms that same day.

Her passing was incredibly heartbreaking and I felt so guilty that I didn’t even know she was suffering for so long. But hearing exactly that inspired me. Her lymphoma meant she only had four months to live regardless, so I am glad I was able to give her her best life as her sun set.After unexpected loss, Marine veteran creates sunset home for old and ailing cats

There was no time to waste for her in the shelter because her sun was already setting and there is always going to be someone with the same urgency for hospice.

So the very next day I called the Humane Society and discussed various elderly cats to make sure I could care for any ailments properly.

I adopt instead of foster because they deserve a permanent home as their sun sets. Even though I can only bring home one at a time, I call my little apartment “Luly’s Sunset Home.” Each sunset will be another heartbreak, but after Luly’s story, I’ve committed to always bring home another setting sun right away.

I only wish I had a home large enough for every setting sun in our local shelters.

“I already love him so much”

On October 7th I brought home Caesar Paesar, just in time for his 15th birthday two days later. He has mild kidney disease and mild mange, but with supportive care he is doing well overall. He is a panther who rests most of the time, but really enjoys stroller rides and time at the park – just like my little Luly.

He and Mojo have become like brothers, a bond that Mojo hasn’t had for a very long time. He won Caesar over in just a couple of days, giving him a quick lick or two every time he walks by Caesar resting.

Caesar reminds me of her [Luly] in so many ways. Especially the way he watches everything so intently from the stroller. He even stays in it after walks as if he’s not ready to be back yet, just like Luly would. He gives long head bumps like a bunny, loves being held once in a while, and has unique speech patterns that are extra cute.

I already love him so much and can’t wait for his his health to get a little bit better so I can bond with him and give him a rich life as his sun sets. Thank you for everything you have done, and for being so caring.


I went back to San Diego Humane Society’s El Cajon campus. I will be focusing my efforts on cats in their care. They have fantastic facilities, do very thorough intakes, and provided wonderful follow up care after Caesar’s jaw broke during dental surgery. He had a button stitched onto his jaw for stability while it healed, which he kept scratching off due to his yet unrecognized mange.

It was funny finding his buttons on the floor, lol.

A gift card would be super helpful in maintaining his best health. He is insanely stubborn about eating any food made for his condition, so I have been providing kidney function support in other ways.

The cost adds up. I would definitely be grateful for the assistance with that. He is worth every effort!

I’m sure they’d appreciate a new fountain, too, after I accidentally broke the adapter for theirs yesterday. Thank you for your compassion and everything you do.

After unexpected loss, Marine veteran creates sunset home for old and ailing cats“…I missed that little waddle”

I miss my little Luly Bear so very much. Her eyes were so big and bright, I could see in her shelter pictures that she was special.

Right from the start our bond was very different than my past felines – even Mojo.

There was a deeper connection as if she somehow understood me, and understood my challenges.

She was my kitty soulmate.

It felt like we were giving every comfort we could. No matter how she lay near me, she always had an arm or leg stretched out on top of my arms. She would paw for attention any time I stood or passed by, especially from the top of their castle. I’d be doing dishes with her little paw resting on my hip.

She had an adorable waddle when she first came home because her extra weight was all in her little round belly. With her short legs, she couldn’t even jump up to the bed until she lost weight.

I wanted her to be healthy, but I missed that little waddle when she got leaner.

She was fearless on our strolls, no matter if people came up to say hello as we strolled or she was walking around exploring the boardwalk. She even loved wearing her little dresses. She would take off as soon as we got home and climb into the castle, leaving me no chance to take them off. It was sweet because they were so cute on her.

Sweeter even was the way she would be back sitting in the stroller five minutes after we had finished an adventure. She would stare at me as if ready to head back out again. She loved the beach and seaport parks, but her favorite place to explore was definitely the cruise ship pier. I think the dividers had her a little confused as she would walk from one side to the other. It was adorable.

A home for setting suns

Catching her first play time was awesome, as it took her a while to let loose. Later, she would even play catch with me – the bed her playing field as I flicked and tossed felt balls her way.

It felt awesome to be included; with Mojo I’ve always been a spectator because his love for affection always trumped his other entertainment if I came in. After unexpected loss, Marine veteran creates sunset home for old and ailing cats

Playtime was something small that Luly and had just for us. Another super special thing was the first time she curled up in the crook of my knee at night – something Sunny, Mojo’s first companion, would often do. It was such a special moment to be her comfort in the same place Sunny felt safest at night.

Holding little Luly as I watched her cross over was so bittersweet. She was out of pain, but I felt I had failed her and wished so much that I hadn’t let her suffer for so long. If only I had known. I wanted so much for her- so much more time, so many more experiences, so much more playtime.

I was blessed to receive an unexpected condolence card from the staff at the Humane Society’s Community Vet center, with Luly’s paw prints on a separate card. It took my breath away, as I hadn’t had a chance to collect any tangible mementos before she passed. It was such a beautiful gesture on their part.

Now, I focus on Caesar’s comfort, and enrichment during his stay with Mojo and me at Luly’s Sunset Home.


  1. Christine E

    All of your cats sound so lovely, as you are. To give so much of yourself to these aging felines is extraordinary and so kind. Thank you for your Service to this country and to the sunsetting cats.

  2. MJ

    Reading about Luly was so heartbreaking. It’s so admirable how you chose to adopt cats “as their suns set.” They can’t tell you, but those cats love you for doing that!

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