Older cat brings new energy to Marine Corps veteran and her resident feline

Older cat brings new energy to Marine Corps veteran and her resident feline

CJ is a disabled Marine veteran who finds joy in the simple pleasures of life, including the addition of an older cat who joined her after the loss of a beloved pet.

On the wings of angels

The young veteran’s journey in the Marines took her to Pensacola, Florida, where she served as part of the expeditionary airfield instructor team.

Standing at a mere five feet tall, CJ operated massive forklifts and ensured that junior Marines had the necessary tools to assemble mini expeditionary runways.

That spirit of mentorship suited CJ well.

“It was awesome being a part of junior Marines’ ventures in becoming field-ready members of the fleet,” she shares.

CJ recalls a particularly thrilling memory from her tour of duty serving as an Expeditionary Airfield Systems (EAF) technician. These professionals are tasked with ensuring the rapid creation of airfields used by Marines in support of military and humanitarian missions.

“As EAF Marines, our particular schoolhouse was far across the base, beyond the runways and beside the airport tower. This lucky tower mainly monitored training flights of the Blue Angels!” she exclaims.

“We got to watch them practice three to four times a week, along with the infamous Fat Albert. Seeing the Blue Angels [fly] just above our schoolhouse was amazing. Coolest assignment ever!”

The Blue Angels’ storied legacy began during WWII. To this day they are the premier aerial ambassadors of our nation’s aviation forces and showcase their prowess all over the world.

Old cat meets old cat

Since separating from service CJ loves to write, ride her motorcycle, and explore San Diego’s many beautiful outdoor attractions. The young Marine has always enjoyed the company of cats, as well. She includes them in her adventures whenever possible.

However CJ’s story takes a bittersweet turn that would ultimately lead to her saving the life of an older shelter cat. Her senior kitty Mojo fell into a bout of depression after losing his cat sibling, Sunny.

In that moment the Marine veteran knew she needed to find them both a new feline friend.

It was late spring 2023 and Rowan was an old cat – 11 years of age – in the care of San Diego Humane Society and SPCA’s El Cajon campus.

Since 2014 the shelter has offered veterans in our program fee waived adoptions when they save program-eligible cats and dogs. The organization’s campuses in San Diego, Escondido, and Oceanside partner with us as well.

Meeting Rowan – since renamed Luly Francis – was a love at first sight moment for the young veteran.

“When I saw senior cat Luly at the shelter,” she recalls, “I knew right away that she was the one.”

CJ adopted Luly the very same day she was approved. She was led to Pets for Patriots and our companion pet adoption program for military veterans through a simple online search.

The Marine Corps veteran praises our ongoing support and assistance.

“They still check in for updates on us and are very supportive. Pets for Patriots is an incredible program that I absolutely recommend to any veteran looking to adopt a new member for their family,” she says.

“The financial aid, benefits, and personal support are so helpful. They keep in touch to see how you’re doing and make sure everything is okay.”

Spirit of renewal

Luly’s arrival brings newfound energy to CJ’s home. This inspired the young Marine to purchase a stroller so that she and her feline family can more easily enjoy outdoor adventures.

The trio now journeys to local parks, piers, boardwalks, and shops. Mojo and Luly enjoy the attention from people and the sights of the bustling city.

By all accounts Luly has adapted well to her new life. She even seems to fancy getting dressed up for her new family’s regular outings.

“She’s great in a leash and loves her little Hawaiian dresses,” CJ says. “She is so fluffy, loving, and spunky, with an adorably crinkled left ear and short legs. She’s my mini Punky Brewster!”

The reference is to a 1980s sitcom about a young girl abandoned in Chicago with her dog, Brandon. She ends up being fostered by a curmudgeonly old man who, in time, comes to cherish the spirited girl and adopts her.

Oldies are goodies

Adopting a senior pet is a rewarding experience that often means looking beyond the gray fur, slower pace, and other signs of aging.

Still, many mature pets are rejuvenated in adoption, having been given a new chance at life. They often thrive in the embrace of a loving family after experiencing the inevitable stress of homelessness.

Above all, adopting senior pets demands time and patience for their personalities to emerge. It requires the understanding that nearly every homeless senior animal has endured some type of trauma.

Some older animals are found abandoned, or as victims of abuse or neglect. Still others are surrendered by the only families they have ever known.

Luly is no exception. While nothing is known about her prior life, she did enter the shelter as a senior with few prospects for adoption until CJ came along.

Now, the older cat has started to reveal her inner kitten.

That spark of life is investing CJ’s household with newfound energy and joy.

“One of my favorite things is watching Luly play so energetically with their toys,” CJ shares. “She is 11 years old, so it is very special seeing the kitten in her still shining through.”


  1. Alyson A.

    Thank you for your service. This story made me smile – I loved hearing about Mojo and Luly. I wish I could see them riding around in their stroller – and if Luly was wearing that dress, it would be icing on the cake! Bless you for adopting a sweet older cat.

  2. MJ

    Senior cats are precious! I have one myself. Thank you for rescuing Luly. I’m sure she makes you smile many times every day, and I hope that continues for years to come.

  3. Dorothy Greynolds

    Thank you for adopting a senior cat. Hoping you have many years together to treasure.

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