'Cat Daddy' leaves big gift for Marin Humane Society

NOVATO, Calif. (KGO) -- Many people are very generous with their pets. But we've just learned one man was unbelievably generous with animals that may soon become other people's pets; specifically, cats at the Marin Humane Society.

Every year a thousand cats pass in and out of the building; some sleepy, some playful, all in need of homes.

"Especially this time of year we're in kitten season, so there's no shortage of kittens that need help," said Joe Lisella, Marin Humane Society Development Director.

The Marin Humane Society does give them a nice life -- toys, good food, and teen camp counselors to play with them.

On some level, these animals may know they just got a gift. A really big gift.

"It's definitely a sizeable gift, one of the larger ones in our history," Lisella said. "So we're very grateful for it."

Joe Lisella had the honor of accepting the check for nearly $800,000 given exclusively for the care of the Marin Humane Society's cats.

"It's great that it's gonna make their lives even better than they already are," said a volunteer.

These cats may not realize it, but the money that's about to make their lives even better is an inheritance of sorts, left to them in a six-page handwritten will by a man who considers himself a father to felines.

"I believe he was called Cat Daddy, yes," Lisella said.

Brian Russell Kirchoff, a real estate lawyer from San Rafael, was a cat lover himself, who died last year of a heart attack at 63. He left behind his own two cats.

"His will was actually, we're told, about a third about the personality of his cats," Lisella said.

Chelsea and Tarka, both 18, will live out their years at a Santa Rosa sanctuary, while the bulk of Kirchoff's million dollar estate will go to all the other cats and the programs that keep them happy and healthy.

"We always strive for the best care that we're able to provide," Lisella said. "And this certainly will enable us to do that for many many months and years to come hopefully."

Some money will go toward adoption outreach to find these cats permanent homes, and some might go toward a special project to honor Mr. Kirchoff, though it came as such a surprise they haven't planned one yet.

He did give some money to the Asian Art Museum and some of his own art collection to the staff at his favorite sushi restaurant.

Kirchoff always said he believed time is luck. And though his time was too short, he left behind some lucky cats.
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