This is Adopt A Senior Pet Month….
Any month is a good one to adopt a senior cat, to my mind.
All over the Lower Mainland (probably all over the world) we’re dealing with the aftermath of kitten season, and shelters – the RAPS City Shelter as well – are full of kittens. And as we all know, kittens are CUTE, and people respond to them easily. What cat-parent neophytes don’t always realise is that they have to get through the equivalent of the terrible teens to emerge with a cat who you can settle down and live with for the next 15-20 years.
When you adopt an older cat, you know what you’re getting, personality-wise; you’re past the destruction-just-for-fun stage that kittens rejoice in, and you can be pretty sure that if your cat “misbehaves”, it’s either for health reasons, or it’s because something in your life is stressing it. Most older cats have settled to the sleep-most-of-the-day pattern that is so common to cats, and are happy to sit quietly with you – though play-time is welcome (and necessary, to keep your indoor cat active).
What constitutes “senior”? A cat of 7-10 years is considered “mature” – the equivalent of someone in their 50’s, perhaps. Seniors are those over 10, and a cat of 15+ can be considered a Super-Senior. And like humans, some senior cats are active and engaged into their golden years, while other are getting frail and need more tending.
At the Cat Sanctuary we have several categories of senior cats, some of which are adoptable, while others will continue to do better in our care. A lot of our seniors have grown old with us; they are cats who came in as young ferals, who have gradually acclimated to human care and attention, and are now friendly – but also regard the Sanctuary as their home. They are not cats that we would adopt out unless they made the decision to bond with someone, and even then, a transition to a new home can be stressful.
The cats who have come to us as owner-surrenders are often with us because they’re poop-ers, pee-ers or biters! But we also have cats come in because their owner is no longer alive, or has gone into a care-home – and the transition can be very hard on a cat. Sweet Krissy took a whole year to emerge from hiding, and is only in the last year becoming really sociable with people in general.
Tikki is still grieving the loss of his home, and the owner who loved him and had to go into care; Tikki is now starting to respond to staff and volunteer approaches, though he does not like other cats coming into his space. It’s good to see him finally venturing out of his “safe” place, and enjoying cuddles with the people he likes.
Baby is an elegant lady in the Moore House, who came to us very angry at the disruption of her life, but who has now settled down to be admired and petted. She is a little arthritic, but there is medication for that, and she is feeling much better about life.
Also in the Moore House are Rufus and Wink; each came in as one of a bonded pair, and then had their partner pass. Wink is still a little wary around people; Rufus loves attention and he loves to eat!
Two other cats in the DoubleWide are senior adoption prospects – both tuxedos. Tootsie had actually been adopted and was returned because she showed a persistent skin infection which is now well under control; she’s a very sweet girl who loves attention and responds well to petting. And Survivor – now known as “Sir”, has a sad back-story; his owner died, and nobody in the family was a cat-person. Sir was left in the apartment, with someone coming in to feed him every few days. Unfortunately, the feeder was also not a cat-person, and just tossed food at him and left. As funeral time approached, the family decided to euthanize the cat and put him in with his owner. Luckily one of our contacts was able to say, “Sign him over to us; we’ll care for him”, and Sir came to us.. The poor boy was pretty shut down for a while, but time in an open cage with the undemanding company of Tugboat and Oliver, and he’s now exploring and responding to human contact. Sir would love to find someone to be his person again.
In taking on a senior cat, of course, you take on potential heartache; anytime we adopt a pet, we know that heartache will come because they live shorter lives than we do, but with seniors it also comes sooner. But balance that against the love they give, and what we can give to them in their final years, and it feels to me like a great bargain.