Vietnam veteran’s best friend is a cat, not a canine

Lawrence and Tweedy

It is often said that a dog is a man’s best friend, but for one Vietnam veteran a special needs cat – not a canine – fills that role.

It is a sad truth that young, small and healthy cats and dogs are the first to be adopted at shelters across the country. This means older, large-breed and special need pets are left to either live out the rest of their lives in shelters or, even worse, are euthanized.

Every year animal shelters throughout the United States care for approximately six to eight million dogs and cats, however, more than half are put to death because no one adopts them.

Cats like Tweedy, a three year-old tabby with a grade two heart murmur and eye disease, might have been one of those tragic statistics if not for charities like Pets for Patriots and their national network of animal welfare organizations. Instead, he found his forever home with a Vietnam veteran who saw beyond the adult cat’s medical disabilities.

Love at first sight

Lawrence, a Vietnam War Army veteran, was captivated when he first met Tweedy.

“He had strange eyes, they really drew my attention.”

Coincidence led Lawrence to Tweedy. After wandering into the Metro Detroit Petco where some of the Michigan Humane Society’s cats are available for adoption, Lawrence began talking to the shelter staff.

“I asked to look at the cats and was attracted to Tweedy because of the way he looked,” Lawrence says.

Tweedy’s eyes appear all black, lacking the elliptical shaped iris that most cats have. As a result, his vision is impaired which, along with the heart murmur, makes Tweedy an at-risk, special needs pet – the type that most people overlook. Sadly, the cat had already been in and out of a few adopted homes, but the Michigan Humane Society was committed to helping this special tabby find his forever home.

Two four-legged friends makes life twice as nice

Tweedy is a big cat, weighing more than 10 pounds, twice the size of Lawrence’s other tabby cat, named Maui.

“At first, animals have to test each other,” Lawrence says. “But they’re friends now and they sleep next to each other.”

Both Tweety and Maui are around the same age and are great companions for the Vietnam veteran, who has his own philosophy on the pet-person bond. Maui and Tweedy

“You’ve got to be open-minded and accept the pet for his eccentricities just like he has to accept yours,” he says. “I wanted to give Tweedy a good home given his history of being bounced around. We’ve become great friends.”

Lawrence plans to take a special training class offered by the Michigan Humane Society so he can help improve the adoption potential of cats at the shelter.

“They need a volunteer to move cats out of their cages and into the bonding area,” Lawrence says. “A lot of people are allergic to cats so they can’t do it, but I’m more than willing.”

Other than volunteering his time, the Vietnam veteran finds more ways to give to others. He regularly donates to charities whose mission is focused on pets and adoption, such as Pets for Patriots, the Michigan Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“I think they all do such a fantastic job,” he says.

In the end, Lawrence realizes that it all comes down to getting animals out of the shelters and into loving homes.

“Animals need a break, they really do. There’s so many of them that need to be adopted.”

What special qualities do you love most about your pet?


  1. luna

    Thank you for seeing beyond the disabilites of this sweet cat

  2. Pets for Patriots

    Carlos, first of all we’re glad to hear that you’re okay and that it all was just a scare. Sometimes we take the things that we value most for granted, but we have a feeling that won’t be an issue with you and Boris. Animals have a way of sensing when we’re in need and responding accordingly.

    Take good care of yourself and as far as Boris making a mess around the house, well, you said it…it’s his home, too!

  3. Carlos

    I had a heart attack scare. Of course, the ER kept me overnight for tests the following morning. I had a disagreement with my cat Boris before leaving the house and expected to be back in a couple of hours. He didn’t want to be alone. My heart dropped when the ER told me I’d have to stay. I called my one close local friend who was about an hour away to tell him. I started crying when I talked about Boris and how bad I feel at the way I left. He came down and fed Boris and ‘showed him some love’. He made sure Boris was warm enough. When I got home, all was ok, I hugged my 2 year old black long hair cat Boris. It’s been a week now and Boris hasn’t left my side. I’m back to watching TV in my comfortable over-sized recliner; with my Boris napping at arm’s length away. I had no idea how much that little guy meant to me until I had to leave him alone unexpectedly.

    Oh and he made a mess of things by climbing on things he’s not supposed to but it is HIS home too…

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