On a rare cloudy day in Vegas, sporadic rain and fog disturb the images of sin and grace. Wet roads leave distorted patterns of casino lights floating in puddles, and tourists are tossed like dice into the hands of fate. Reflections that mirror another side of Las Vegas rarely seen. Far away from the famous strip, near old railroad tracks and abandoned junkyards, a man in a dark raincoat appears. He opens cans of cat food, forks it out into scattered dishes, then pours dry food and fresh water in the remaining bowls. One by one, feral cats appear, seemingly out of nowhere, trusting this man to feed their hunger and quench their thirst. “Rain doesn’t make a cats hunger go away,” he writes in a post above a picture taken for his page on Facebook.
He is known only as The Cat Daddy of Las Vegas, and will not reveal his identity or show his face. If and when he appears in any photos, you’ll only see a side profile or back view. “It’s not about me, it’s about the cats.” He tells me via a phone interview. With over 5,000 likes on Facebook and growing, the Cat Daddy created the page over a year ago to bring awareness to hundreds of feral cats across the country, and especially here in Las Vegas. He didn’t expect the generous outpouring of support both emotionally and financially from animal lovers everywhere. Donations of dry and wet cat food began pouring in, shelters contacted him, and rescue groups offered help with medical, vaccinations, finding homes, and/or TNR, (trap, neuter, return) Happy Home Animal Sanctuary of Las Vegas, and The Poppy Foundation are just two of many that have reached out to help. (www.happyhomeanimalsanctuary.org / www.poppyfoundation.org)
It’s impossible at times not to become attached to the multitude of cats he encounters on any given day. He names each one, and remembers if they showed up for a feeding or not. If all this seems like too much work, he’ll tell you he has the easy part, providing food, medical care and sometimes shelter – the stray and abandoned animals have the hard life. He’ll lose sleep, or ask for prayers for specific cats on his page, and sometimes he ventures out to set up makeshift beds out of boxes and blankets so the lost will have a warm place to sleep. He knows he can’t save them all, but saving one or more is making a difference.
He recently rescued a cat he named ‘Collar.’ He found her wimpering on one of his daily feedings. As he approached her, he smelled a foul odor. She was entangled in her own collar, with her arm/paw hanging out. The collar actually embedded itself through the skin, rotting her away. She was dying a slow death, until this unknown Cat Daddy angel stepped in. With the help of a couple friends and The Poppy Foundation, they managed to get her to a veterinarian, where they treated her with antibiotics and TLC. She made a full recovery, and thanks to his postings and udates on Facebook, he found her a loving home.
‘Houdini,’ a little crosseyed guy was rescued as a kitten along with his siblings. After neutering and shots, he found a family to adopt him, only to decide after a year, they didn’t want him anymore. Word got out that Houdini was back at a shelter in a small cage. The Cat Daddy couldn’t bear the thought of him being abandoned again, so he went to the shelter and adopted him. Houdini is now a content member of the Cat Daddy household.
“Then there’s the one that got away.” He said. Cliche’ yes, still sad and true. A kitten was found clinging to life on the pavement with the hot sun beating down on her. No food, no water, just dry scorching heat. The kitten was placed in foster care, bottle fed, but the sun-worn kitten eventually lost her battle. Not all stories have a happy ending, but with social media, all is not lost. Though most of the cats he cares for in several different cat colonies remain feral, some are rescued and adopted out. His daily posts, pictures, and updates are his way of raising awareness and sharing his passion. Mysteriously, just like the Cat Daddy himself, that passion took on a life of its own, as hundreds of people continue to like his page and share his posts. Fate stepped in and delt him a card not played on the Vegas Strip, but in the heart of compassion.
For more information, and/or donate/or volunteer to help with daily or weekly feedings, visit The Cat Daddy on Facebook. Remember to share and ‘like’ his page. www.facebook.com/thenlvcatdaddy