James R. Richards, 58, a prominent veterinarian who was a recognized authority on cat care, died Tuesday in Johnson City, N.Y. He lived in Dryden.

He died of injuries he received in a motorcycle accident Sunday. According to Sgt. Kelly Daley of the New York State Police, he was thrown from his motorcycle after he tried without success to avoid hitting a cat that had run into the road.

At his death, he was director of the Feline Health Center of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, a leading center for feline medical research and treatment.

A past president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, Mr. Richards lectured to cat owners' clubs around the country and was often consulted by the news media. He appeared frequently on television, where he might be seen soothing his charges as they squirmed in his arms.

He was known in particular for educating veterinarians and the public after cancerous growths called sarcomas began to be observed in the 1990s on the skin of some newly vaccinated cats.

He was the author of the ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats; an editor of The Well-Behaved Cat: How to Change Your Cat's Bad Habits; and the consulting editor for the second edition of The Cornell Book of Cats.

- N.Y. Times News Service