When Homeless Man Caring For Stray Cats Dies, The Town Does Something

A Man With A Mission

It goes without saying that homeless people don't have much, but the man we're focusing on today cared for 40 stray cats until the day he died. That story is amazing enough, but what the community did with the orphaned cats after he passed away is something we never would have seen coming, and you won't either!

People / Janet O'Brian

Antonio Garcia lived in an alley in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago for a good portion of his life. But he wasn't alone. He kept company with roughly 40 stray cats, who also called the alley their home. Garcia took care of the cat colony and looked upon these cats as his own. But what about the neighborhood? Did they see it as heartwarming or a nuisance?

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Homeless But Happy

People / Jasmine Dulay

Garcia may have been homeless, but he had told neighbors that as long as his cats were fed, he was happy. The cats loved him as well; they were often seen curled up in his lap or bunking down with him in his wood scrap shack. They would lounge in the sun together during the day. But how did the community react to a homeless man living in an alley with so many cats?

Getting By With A Little Help

People / Jasmine Dulay

Walking home from work one day, Cynthia Doepke noticed a few cats around the alley. She tried to befriend them but they were too skittish. For a few weeks, she would bring food and feed the stray cats and kittens. She eventually found out they belonged to Garcia and a new friendship was born. But what about the rest of the community?

Controlling The Population

You Caring / Cynthia Doepke

Doepke knew something needed to be done about the population of cats littering the alleyway. She contacted a local animal rescue and set up a trap, neuter and release program for Garcia's cats. After raising enough money, all but a few of the cats were neutered or spayed, and the population was under control. The lucky cats even got microchipped, vaccinated and injuries or illnesses treated. Unfortunately, no one could have seen what was to come.

Going Without So The Cats Could Live

People / Jasmine Dulay

With the colony of cats mostly spayed or neutered, it was time to figure out how to adequately feed them all. Garcia, not one to see his cats go hungry, would often share his own food so the cats could eat. Doepke reached out again to find some help, but tragedy was just around the corner and lives were about to change forever.

A Silent Hero Passes Away

People / Jasmine Dulay

In the middle of winter, the alley became unusually quiet. A local business owner was concerned and called the police to do a wellness check on Garcia. The police officers found Garcia had frozen to death in his wood scrap home, surrounded by his many cats. What would become of the feral cat colony he cared for so deeply? The community was about to do the unthinkable.

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