Finding a New Support Cat for Butch

Ralph was having a rough year.

Between covid, a heart procedure, and a lung infection, by April Ralph, who goes by Butch, had spent as much time in the hospital as out. And then his beloved support cat, Shaman, died.

“We’re troopers. We keep going,” said Micki, Butch’s sister who has helped take care of him for years. In addition to his health conditions, Butch has had cognitive issues ever since experiencing asthma-related oxygen deprivation as a child.

“God love him, he’s the nicest guy. He’d give you the shirt off his back,” Micki said of her brother, who’s now 71. “But he can turn on a dime.” Having a support animal has made a world of difference. “It gives him comfort, someone to talk to, someone who loves him no matter what.”

So when Shaman passed, Butch immediately wanted to know when he could get a new cat. He’s loved cats his whole life and had up to 15 cats when he lived in a house in the country across the street from his parents decades ago.

Micki contacted Anderson Humane. She had long donated items to our main shelter, and had heard about our new Constant Companions program that provides in-home volunteers for seniors and others who need help caring for their pet.

When the siblings visited our South Elgin shelter, Butch got attached to Lou, the first cat he saw. “He’s a striking cat, very pretty,” Micki said. So he took Louie, as Butch calls him, home to his apartment in a senior living facility.

The pair have gotten along great. “Louie just sits there and looks at my brother with love in his eyes,” Micki said, clearly grateful for her brother’s new companion. Butch also shares Louie’s presence and affection with the other residents.

Every week, Butch and Louie are visited by Kim, their Constant Companions volunteer, who cleans the litter box and makes sure Louie has enough food. This keeps the senior home happy, which is no small thing. When Butch had covid and was away for other medical treatments, they’d complained about smells and cleanliness issues. Anderson Humane will also arrange foster care for Louie whenever Butch needs to be in the hospital.

“This help means a lot to me,” Micki said. “This all has been such an awesome, wonderful experience.”

If you want to participate in or volunteer with our Constant Companions program, please email

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