Image via Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary/Facebook
Wisconsin man and cat shelter volunteer Terry Lauerman, 75, has become an internet sensation after pictures of him sleeping with kittens at the Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary went viral on Facebook. Within four days of sharing the photos, the post was shared over 17,000 times.
Lauerman has been visiting the shelter occasionally since 2016, but it became a daily routine after he retired from his career as a Spanish instructor in 2017. Like clockwork, Lauerman visits the shelter Monday through Saturday, spending a few hours there feeding, treating and brushing the cats.
“I’ve always liked cats and I always had cats when I was a kid, and I loved them,” Lauerman tells USA Today. “In many ways, I see my old cats in these cats here.”
Lauerman—dubbed the “Cat Grandpa”—also enjoys napping with the kitties. Safe Haven founder Elizabeth Feldhausen tells USA Today that she and the other shelter staff have been collecting photos of Lauerman sleeping with the cats for a while and found them too special not to share.
Safe Haven made a post on their Facebook sharing the gratitude they have for Lauerman. The post says, everyday Lauerman “brushes all of the cats, and can tell you about all of their likes and dislikes. He also accidentally falls asleep most days. We don’t mind—cats need this!”
The cat rescue, which also doubles as a cat cafe, only takes in cats with special needs exclusively, to prevent them from being euthanized.
After photos of Lauerman snuggling went viral, the shelter raised more than $20,000 and their server temporarily crashed, reporting nearly 1,000 people visiting the website per second.
“I literally did nothing,” Lauerman tells the outlet.
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