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Cat and Princess

Camille J. Wheeler

Catherine “Cat” Fako and her dog, Princess, are familiar figures in downtown Austin’s homeless population. In this August 2019 photo taken on Congress Avenue, Princess was a puppy growing into the role of protective guard dog. Last year, Cat was unable to continue caring for Princess and made a difficult decision that allowed her dog to be taken to the Austin Animal Center. Now, thanks to her social care team, the 34-year-old Cat is reunited with Princess and living in permanent housing — an apartment where she and Princess can both stay. Cat grew up in Florida and hit the road as a teenager. She boarded a “hippie bus” (a school bus converted to an RV of sorts) and started train hopping and living as a street kid. Even though she’s living in an apartment, Cat still spends much of her time on Sixth Street, where she’s not isolated and feels a part of the community.