ANCHORAGE – Jim Hershberger doesn’t get into town all the time but Friday you could find him at Ship Creek standing next to his truck and tending to his 22 cats.
Hershberger usually lives on a remote homestead about 50 miles outside of Tok. Every few years or so, he brings the cats into Anchorage to update their rabies shots and run errands.
But pretty much wherever he goes he seems to turn everybody’s heads. And of course, people want to know about the cats.
“They’re my family, I raised them from kittens,” stated Hershberger, who doesn’t mind when people stop and take photos.
Hershberger didn’t always have such a large amount of cats. He started off with one and then shortly after, got another from a friend. He thought that he had two females.
Oh, was he ever wrong!
Today, he has 11 males and 11 females — all of them are now spayed or neutered.
It’s clear that Herberger views his cats family. He explained they keep him company on his homestead where, besides the cats, he lives alone.
“That’s why I’m still single. It’s hard to find someone who will accept you with 22 cats,” he stated, adding that he’s pretty much given up on dating. “My cats come first.”
Hershberger transports the cats in a custom cathouse which is situated on the back of his truck. It features a few automatic food dispensers and a second-story sleeping loft.
He didn’t always have quite a nice ride. Many years back, Hershberger brought the cats to Anchorage in winter in a small cramped car, where they often spent several nights without any heat. Animal Control even seized his cats while Hershberger worked to get them back.
Today, Hershberger claims the animals only travel in summer and rarely at that. He says they actually prefer the homestead to the city and knows they’ll be happy when they head home in several weeks.