Started with two kittens
Arthur Burrell, 57, remembered by his widow Yolanda Bell as “Cat Daddy” and by others as “The Cat Man” of Chicago’s West Side, noted for his cheerful nature and sense of humor as well as for his love of cats, died from heart disease on October 9, 2014.
A U.S. Army veteran and employee of Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, Burrell “got started in feline rescue when he took in two tiny kittens he’d found on the street,” recalled Julie Falconer of the Humane Society of the U.S. magazine Animal Sheltering. Those two were the first of eight rescued cats who eventually shared the Burrell/Bell family home. Burrell also fed and monitored the condition of feral cats in the neighborhood.
HSUS Pets for Life team members Annette Bellezzo and Kris Badillo met Burrell “a few years back, while knocking on doors in North Lawndale, a neighborhood that struggles with poverty, foreclosures, and drug-related crime,” Falconer continued.
That was the beginning of a productive partnership. “In the two years the Pets for Life team knew him, Burrell rescued 51 cats and kittens from the streets,” Falconer wrote. “Pets for Life provided him with flea and tick medications and other supplies and helped sterilize and find homes for the kittens he found. In turn, Burrell introduced the team to pet owners in the community and spread the word about the program to other cat caretakers.”
Recalled Bell, “Everybody in the neighborhood knew him as ‘the cat man.’ Neighbors would knock on his door or stop him in the street, asking for help placing kittens, assistance getting pet food or advice on cat care.”
Hospitalized at the end of August 2014, Burrell “started sketching out plans for a program he called Caring About Felines Everywhere.
The CAFE program, he wrote in his notebook, would ‘get stray cats off the street and get them spayed/neutered,’” Falconer said. “It would share information with people about cat care and help owners in underserved areas with food and veterinary care. It would find homes for friendly strays.”
“He was so happy before he died,” Bell remembered, “because he thought he was really going to get a chance to do something” for the cats.
Finished Falconer, “He already had.”
Jamaka Petzak says
RIP Mr. Arthur Burrell, with much respect and gratitude. May his legacy be continued and his CAFE dream realized! and may others be inspired to do as he has done for our society’s most innocent, blameless, vulnerable and voiceless, who have endless unconditional loyalty, love, and beauty to contribute to the lives of those who care for them.
What a wonderful human being and what a terrible loss to cats that he loved so much and was so kind to and all he ones whose life he saved and whose lives were so much better because he lived. I did not know him but I feel a loss, he was just the kind of person that we need more of in this world. He will be greatly missed.
Sharon Yildiz says
Sounds like a great man and friend to both the humans and animals in his neighborhood. I’m sure he will be greatly missed.
Sharing this story and the need for kitty help! CAFE, what a wonderful legacy. This man was outstanding in his love and acceptance of life everywhere.
Very sad, my heart goes out to the family and friends, and of course, all the kitties who need him!
Joanna Self says
What a wonderful, caring , amazing and incredible man. I cried just reading the article and then even more so when I read he had passed away. He was a rare human indeed. I too feed stray cats and wish there were more people like him. His passing is a true loss. My very best wishes to his family and friends. What a true star, a hero. Thank you Mr Burrell for being such a special person.