Renowned Feline Expert Dies in Crash


Sally E. Bahner

Dr. James Richards, 58, director of the Cornell Feline Health Center, Ithaca, NY, died April 24, 2007 from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.

He was an internationally renowned authority and spokesperson for feline veterinarians and owners. Ironically, he was thrown from the motorcycle while attempting to avoid a cat in the road, said police records.

Born July 19, 1948, in Richmond, IN, he earned an A.B. degree in mathematics (1970) from Berea College and his D.V.M. (1979) from Ohio State University. He joined the Cornell Veterinary College in 1991 as Assistant Director of the Feline Health Center. Dr. Richards was a faculty member of the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences at Cornell University and past president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, where he served as faculty advisor of the student chapter. He was also the author of the “ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats,” the consulting editor and a co-author of “The Cornell Book of Cats,” as well as editor-in-chief and “Ask Dr. Richards” columnist of “CatWatch,” the newsletter of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

He was an authority on vaccination protocols for cats, leading the Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force through medical investigations and recommendations to cat owners and veterinarians, and conducted extensive research into feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) with Dr. Diane Addie.

Colleagues remembered Dr. Richards with much respect and fondness.

“Everyone who has met Jim has a story to tell about how kind and generous and inspiring he was,” said Beth Adelman, a member of Cat Writers’ Association and International Association of Animal Behavior Consultant. “He treated everyone as a personal friend and a respected colleague. He worked endlessly for better feline health and care. He was a friend of everyone who was a friend of cats. I have no idea what we are going to do without him. There are some people whose passing makes even the angels weep,” she said.

He is survived by his wife, Anita Fox Richards of Dryden, NY, and sons, Jesse and Seth.

Memorial donations may be sent to Cornell Feline Health Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Box 13, Ithaca, NY 14853.

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