Until January of this year, Antonio Garcia lived for the past ten years in an alleyway in Chicago. Antonio had brought a few odds and ends into the far end of an alley and made something of a home for himself.
Antonio lived without another human companion, but Antonio had many cats that were his friends. Stray cats are in abundance in the city of Chicago, and several of them came to spend their time with Antonio. He feed the cats, and he took care of them as best as he could.
Some who lived near Antonio Garcia, including Leona Sepulveda Less and Cynthia Doepke, befriended Antonio and helped him feed his cats. They offered to help Antonio as well, but his main concern was the cats.
Less and Doepke helped with getting the cats spayed and neutered. They were shocked to find that Antonio was taking care of 30 cats in the alleyway. In order to make sure that the cats weren’t picked up by animal control officers, Doepke and Less had the cats declared a colony. Under Chicago ordinances, a cat colony is protected from interference by the city.
All was going well until this last January. Temperatures in Chicago dropped to near record levels. Some nights were well below zero. After one particularly cold night, Antonio Garcia was found dead of hypothermia. He was 65 years old.
People in the area knew that he loved his cats, so they set about trying to help them. A feeding schedule was set up so that the cats would be feed twice a day seven days a week. Cat condos were built so that the cats had someplace nice to go when it was cold outside.
In order to defray the cost of feeding and caring for the 30 cats, funds were solicited. Over $4,000 was raised quickly, and there is now enough money to care for the cats for many months to come.
Those in the neighborhood believe that caring for the cats is the best way that they can remember Antonio. Even when he was cold and in need, he never reached out for help for himself. He was just concerned for the cats.