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Oftentimes it’s a sad revelation that many pet owners would not take on older or special needs cats. Of course, many of us say we sure would take those kitties! But it is a reality that the majority of cats that get adopted are kittens. More awareness needs to be made about the adoption of special needs and elderly cats, especially since they can be the sweetest cats you’d ever meet. That is exactly what this brave Air Force veteran is trying to do.

Do you ever just go to an animal shelter on a whim to play with the animals? Maybe help out or volunteer? When Barbara visited her local shelter, she wasn’t planning on adopting a pet. But Barbara actually ended up walking out with a special needs senior cat in her arms. She named him Ichabod.

Barbara’s Beginnings

Barbara had a long history with the military before joining up with the Air Force in 1970. Her father had been a soldier in the Army in WWII. Her friend Ronnie was actively serving in Vietnam. Barbara admitted she was restless, she didn’t know what to do with her life. It seemed that the military was the way to go instead of going to college. 

“I’d talked to my dad who’d served in the Army and had been through WW II. He recommended that if I was determined to join the military I should join the the Air Force, so in February of 1970 that’s exactly what I did. Recruiters at that time basically told you that you would have your choice of careers once you entered. I put down every medical field that they offered.”

Sheppard AFB postcard

Sheppard AFB postcard via Wikipedia Commons, public domain

After her basic training, Barbara went on to tech school at the Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. She served many years in the military, and absolutely loved her job. In 2009, she finally retired. All alone, isolated with her dog Lucy, that familiar feeling crept up again of not knowing where to go or what to do. Thanks to Lucy though, Barbara never felt alone or afraid until 2016 when Lucy passed away.

“Sadly, in 2016, Lucy suffered a stroke and passed away. I was heartbroken, and couldn’t even think about a replacement for her. I’d lost my best friend, my little girl, and I hurt.” 

Barbara and Ichabod. Images via Pets for Patriots

Then 2020 came and COVID happened. Barbara felt even more isolated and alone since where could she go? We were all stuck in our homes and Barbara had many surgeries during that time and ailing health.

“I was in pain, sad, depressed, and even a little scared. My home no longer was my refuge. It was more like a prison.”

Then the day came when she met Ichabod. Barbara had a doctor’s appointment nearby the local shelter. She figured on just giving some of the pets a look, no intention to adopt. It had been 4 years since Lucy passed away, so naturally she checked out the dogs first. She talked to them, making both her day and theirs a little brighter.

Barbara Meets Special Needs Kitty Ichabod and Gains A Sense of Purpose

Barbara then decided to walk into the cat section and found Ichabod, an adorable yellow cat sleeping at the back of their cage. When she read the tag on his cage, it said Ichabod was FIV positive. While still in the shelter, Barbara looked up everything she could about FIV and what it would mean to care for a cat with the positive designation. For those who do not know what FIV is, it is called Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. 

“I said his name out loud, just testing the sound of it, when he suddenly jumped up and came to my side of the cage, and gently strolled back and forth, letting me pet his side through the bars.”

Well, you can’t say no to that! That’s when you know that cat chose you. Walking through the rest of the shelter Barbara couldn’t stop thinking about Ichabod. Then she found herself snuggled in a room with him, with the senior cat lying on her lap. From then on, now nicknamed Ickyboy, they were inseparable. She was also able to adopt Ichabod through a program called Pets for Patriots, which provides pets to military veterans who may not be able to financially afford to adopt and care for a pet.

“I didn’t truly decide I wanted a pet, my pet decided I needed him and he was right. Once I brought Ickyboy home it was as if I’d had him all my life. I think God knew we needed each other and put us on that path the very day I stopped by the animal shelter.”

That’s how it always is isn’t it? Our pets pick us, we don’t pick them. Now with Ickyboy at her side, Barbara no longer feels lonely. He has given her a renewed sense of purpose, giving her a reason to get up everyday. They both look forward to their food routines, but Barbara had a lot more work to do to find out about caring for an FIV positive cat. Ichabod has a few neurological issues where he can’t see or hear as well as he should, but he’s perfect all the same.

“Ickyboy seems to have some neurological issues in that he doesn’t hear or see well, and he tends to walk with his head tilted to one side. He can’t make big leaps onto or down from anything. He doesn’t play, but chooses to spend both day and night taking cat naps.”

ichabod and barbara

Ickyboy, we love you all the same! After all, that certainly makes for a nice nap partner! We here at CaM are so happy Barbara took on a cat with Ickyboy’s needs, since all cats deserve love and a nice home full of fun and treats! 

You can see more about Barbara and Ichabod on the Pets for Patriots website.

You may also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Another touching story from Pets for Patriots on Youtube:

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