On New Year’s Eve, we’ll probably sing, or at least hear, Robbie Burns’ poem “Auld Lang Syne”, which begins with “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” It may make us think fondly of old friends, and perhaps a grandparent or elderly neighbour who’s enjoying their golden years.
There are societies that venerate the wisdom of their senior citizens but sadly this devotion doesn’t always include the family pet. It can be difficult and expensive to continue to give an older cat the love and care it deserves and, like older humans who’re past their prime, old cats are sometimes turned over to the care of others. Worse, an old cat may just be abandoned to the streets, where it no longer is able to fend for itself. Staff and volunteers at RAPS’ Cat Sanctuary are most most likely the last family these old darlings will ever have so we give them as much love and comfort as we possibly can to make up for the trauma of losing “their people” and their familiar surroundings. We love being able to do this for them! After all, like many older humans, senior cats have an abundance of personality and character. If only they could talk and tell us of the adventures they’ve had in some of their previous lives – remember, cats have nine lives and we know the exciting ways in which some cats have used up a few of them.
Most of our older cats live in the Moore House, known fondly as the GeriCatrics, where a quieter life and less stress suits their occasionally cranky ways. But many of the cats at RAPS’ Cat Sanctuary have been there a long time and were adults when they first arrived so they’re getting on in years. Siblings Kiddie and Sadie are among the original residents, having arrived as youngsters, so we know that they’re at least sixteen or seventeen years old now. They certainly don’t look it but they have been slowing down a bit these days, no longer tearing around at top speed as they did in their prime.
Everyone keeps a special eye on our senior cats for anything that might indicate failing health or discomfort. For example, they can easily become dehydrated and require regular sub-cutaneous fluid replacement. Pretty blue-eyed Skye in the Single-Wide is one of these – she gets the restorative fluid and then lots of cuddles and ear rubs.
Sometimes, during the cold weather, a cozy sweater will be provided for the skinny cats or ones whose fur is a bit thin. Here’s old Fitz, in New Aids, relaxing in his preppy sweater.
Mikey, who’s almost entirely blind, is allowed to spend most of his time safely inside the Animal Care Staff room, being spoiled with special food and attention there. The rest of the time, he happily but slowly walks around the areas that he’s familiar with.
For cats who are already senior citizens when they come to us, there’s a whole building set aside just for them: the Moore House. It’s a quiet area, away from the comings and goings of the larger areas and not open to visitors. Here, the old darlings can snooze on the softest beds or bask on the sunny deck, where they can watch the action on the nearby bird feeders. Frail little Noni spends most of her day relaxing in “her” favourite spot in here.
Despite their sometimes ragged appearance, older cats are able to enjoy life to the fullest at the Cat Sanctuary. Here, these “auld” friends are cherished, and not forgot. Happy New Year to all!!