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Dr. Jim Richards, Great Cat Friend, Passes to Rainbow Bridge

Morgan the Pirate Gato meowed in to let the rest of us know that the feline world has lost a great friend, Dr. Jim Richards....

Joy  |  May 3rd 2007


Dr. Jim  Richards.jpg

Morgan the Pirate Gato meowed in to let the rest of us know that the feline world has lost a great friend, Dr. Jim Richards.

Bowing our heads in sorrow, and saying very special prayers – we are sad to say Dr Jim Richards, the Head of the Feline Medicine Center at Cornell University, has died in a motorcycle accident. One newspaper in Ithaca is reporting that he swerved to avoid a kitty.

Dr Nero and Dr Richards just spoke a few weeks ago about me in Miami – and I was hoping to meet him when I went back to Cornell.

Many many kittys will run to meet him when he arrives at the Rainbow Bridge – he has saved many many lives.

And this is a very moving tribute from Morgan the Pirate Gato’s Catster page:

A Pirate’s Quest To See The World
In Special Memory of A Special Hero – Dr Jim Richards

It is with a very sad and heavy heart that I write this Diary Entry.

Dr Jim Richards the Director of the Cornell University Feline Health Center was killed in a motorcycle accident on Sunday. The roads up in Ithaca are beautiful country roads surrounded by mountains, and Dr Richards swerved his motorcycle to avoid a Cat that ran across the road.

He was an avid motorcyclist and had been riding for years. He had just ordered a new Ducati, and was planning a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains with some of his fellow Doctors.

When cancerous growths, or sarcomas, began to appear on the skin of some recently vaccinated cats, Richards led the Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force through medical investigations and recommendations to cat owners and veterinarians.

Dr Richards also served as an adviser to Alley Cat Allies, the trap-neuter-return program to manage populations of feral cats.

Dr Richards and Dr Nero were together in Miami a few weeks ago and talked about me. My Diabetes, and my Cataract Surgery at Cornell in January. He complimented Dr Landry and said I had the best Surgical Team in the country. Mom and I were hoping to meet him when we went back up there.

We sent special prayers to his wife and his two sons, and to everyone at Cornell University.

We hope they know that as he crossed the Rainbow Bridge on his way to heaven, he was greeted by thousands of Cats that he saved by his knowledge, his support, and most of all his love.

My head bowed in Silence in memory of a very special Gentleman.

Morgan the Pirate Gato

Here is the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine article announcing Dr. Richards’ passing and celebrating his life.

Veterinarian James R. Richards, Cornells famed kitty doctor and authority on vaccination protocols, dies after motor vehicle accident

James R. Richards, DVM, director of the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicines Feline Health Center and a nationally recognized expert in cat care, died April 24 at age 58 from injuries received in an April 22 motor vehicle accident about eight miles south of Marathon, N.Y.

At Cornell, Richards was a senior extension associate in the Vet College who lectured on feline topics to classes in the DVM curriculum. He was also a member of Cornell Christian Faculty and Staff Forum.

With some help from the resident mascots of the Cornell Feline Health Center, originally Dr. Mew and most recently Elizabeth I, Richards was the human ambassador to the often-mysterious world of cats their health and ills, their behavior and their predilections.

He was a past president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and a nationally recognized authority on vaccination protocols for cats, which he invariably referred to as kitties.”

He was the author of the ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats,”consulting editor and a co-author of The Cornell Book of Cats,” as well as editor-in-chief and columnist (Ask Dr. Richards”) of CatWatch,” the Vet College newsletter. Invitations to appear on network television (including CBS, CNN and Fox News) were often accepted by the genial Richards, whose lap was not complete without at least one purring cat. An advocate for all cats those without homes as well as the luckier ones Richards served as an adviser to Alley Cat Allies, the trap-neuter-return program to manage populations of feral cats.

In the 1990s, when cancerous growths, or sarcomas, began to appear on the skin of some recently vaccinated cats, Richards led the Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force through medical investigations and recommendations to cat owners and veterinarians.

Born July 19, 1948, in Richmond, Ind., Richards earned an A.B. degree in mathematics (1970) from Berea College and his DVM (1979) from Ohio State University. He joined the Cornell Vet College in 1991 as assistant director of the Feline Health Center and was named director in 1997. Richards also served as director of the Dr. Louis J. Camuti Memorial Feline Consultation and Diagnostic Service, which answers calls from veterinarians and cat owners at 1-800-KITTY-DR. He often fielded the questions himself, frequently assuring callers that more often than not situations are not as dire as they first appear.

Richards is survived by his wife Anita Fox Richards and two sons, Jesse and Seth. Memorial donations may be made to the Cornell Feline Health Center, James R. Richards, Jr. Memorial Fund, College of Veterinary Medicine, Box 39, Ithaca, NY 14853, or through the Feline Health Center web site.

By Roger Segelken