Retired Navy veteran’s multi-pet family welcomes addition of senior cat

Roberta loves having a multi-pet family. So the loss of a beloved feline prompted the Navy veteran to adopt a senior cat.

Ready to serve

As a high school junior Roberta joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC, and one week after graduation left to start training. After completing boot camp she went to Navy entry level “A” school in Meridian, Mississippi, then off to her first duty station at Navy headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

“As a yeoman I worked for the Navy Divers, SEALS, and EOD detailers,” she says.

Roberta was recruited for her technical knowledge and was involved in the development of the Navy’s first order writing system. The Enlisted Assignment Information System, OR EAIS, is used to assign sailors to their billets.

Making waves

In 1989 Roberta completed her active duty obligations, but was not done with the Navy. She transferred to the Reserve where she made first class. And the Navy Tuition Assistance program allowed her to earn a bachelors degree in accounting.

Roberta would travel throughout the United States over the course of her long career. At one point she was stationed in Hawaii in support of the Navy’s Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet – or SUBPAC – deploying skills she learned at the Pentagon.

In time Roberta applied for a direct commissioning program and set her sights on earning an ensign, or 01, rank.

The young sailor trained as a supply corps officer, setting the stage for assignments with the Military Sealift Command, Defense Logistics Agency, Reserve Center at Fort McHenry, and Fleet Industrial Supply Center in Norfolk, among others.

Roberta’s years in service were long and the memories – there were many.

The Navy veteran recalls a particularly sweet experience when she was screening applicant packages for the Navy SEALS. She came upon an application from a fellow former high school student and ROTC member.

“I got the pleasure of calling him on the ship he was serving to let him know that I had approved his package to attend Navy SEAL training,” she shares.

Roberta retired as a Lieutenant Commander after 20 years of combined active duty and reserve service. She would parlay her considerable technical expertise into a rewarding civilian career in computer technology.

Build me up Buttercup

Since separating from service Roberta and her multi-pet family have called Severna Park, Maryland their home. She shares it with her husband of 37 years, an adult daughter, an 18 year-old gray Tabby named Gerry, and Atilla, an eight year-old Pit Bull mix.

The family’s mixed menagerie included a calico cat until his passing from cancer in early 2023.

However, Gerry the cat missed having a feline friend. Human members of the household were mourning the loss as well.

So in March Roberta visited the Baltimore Humane Society, which since 2013 has offered fee-waived adoptions to veterans we serve.

Shelter staff told Roberta about our companion pet adoption program for military veterans.

It was there that the Navy veteran saw orange-furred cat named Buttercup. She knew that the nine year-old cat would be the perfect addition to her multi-pet family – and appreciates the benefits available to her as an honorably discharged veteran.

“It was wonderful to discover that there was a program that supports the military,” Roberta says, “as well as ensuring pets that had been surrendered or were in need of a family since they had recently been traumatized by losing whatever family that had them before.”

All in the multi-pet family

Buttercup is among the lucky ones since senior pets face the most daunting prospects for adoption.

A common misperception about mature pets is that they will struggle to adapt to their new homes.

While every rescued animal needs time to adjust, senior pets are remarkably resilient. In fact, many acclimate more quickly than their younger peers because they are already familiar with the ebbs and flows of home life.

Roberta’s fetching orange feline proves this point.

“Buttercup is a perfect fit for our family,” she says. “One of the biggest requirements for our family is that the cat had to be a love bug. She certainly fits that criteria.”

As a lifelong pet adopter Roberta recognizes that each dog or cat is unique. So she appreciates our ‘welcome home’ gift card benefit that helped her buy essentials she chose just for Buttercup. For this and other reasons – including our year of post-adoption follow up – she encourages other veterans to adopt through Pets for Patriots.

“Absolutely I would recommend this program to others,” she says.

“The gift certificate allowed us to buy all the stuff we needed to make her feel special!”

Buttercup is a welcome breath of fresh air to a multi-pet family that was grieving a painful loss.

The senior cat is not shy about her needs and wants. She is particularly demanding of affection, which Roberta and her family are all too happy to oblige.

“Although nothing can replace the cat we lost to cancer, Buttercup sure does try to impress us with her attention, craving pettings,” she shares.

“She absolutely loves, loves, loves any kind of pettings at any time. We do too!!”


  1. Mary Eaton

    What a military career you have experienced! Thank you for your service. This share is inspirational and a testament of “pawsitivity” adult adoption. Enjoy your household of “many colors”!

  2. Alyson A.

    Thank you for your service. How wonderful that you and Buttercup found each other. You both look so happy together! What a sweet multi-pet family!

  3. MJ

    I love the name Buttercup! I hope that you both will have many years of love and pets together.

  4. Dorothy Greynolds

    Thank you for giving a senior cat a loving home! We adopted a 14 year old cat from a friend after she could no longer keep him. We had him for 1 year and 9 months. He adapted well and was a cherished family member.

  5. Rosie Alleva

    What a wonderful story. Yeah for Buttercup, Roberta and their family!!!! I had cats yeas ago and then became very involved with senior dog adoptions. My life has boomeranged with the death of my two senior dogs leaving me with only my 18 year old cat, Max. I “foster failed” and the four kittens I was fostering became family. It has been a win-win. Max is a kitten again. He adores the babies and they are always wrestling and sleeping near each other. Peace to you all. I love multipet families!!!

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