Cat Sanctuary

Ooly the Oldie

From kitty-comforter Pauline Chin: 
Hiding in the upper residence of the Old Aids area is an inconspicuous, quiet brown tabby named Ooly.  It often requires some effort to find her, as she habitually conceals herself… unless you have delicious chicken!  Even then, she makes no sound – just beckoning with her glowing green eyes.

Ooly may look like a typical tabby, but it’s worth it to find this gal because she is 18 years old, which is equivalent to a 80-90 year old human. What makes her extra special is she is FeLV+.


Before anyone hits the panic button, feline leukemia is a virus that can be active or inactive, and the cat may or may not show any symptoms.  Leukemia in humans is a cancer, with a whole host of different symptoms.   In comparison, most strays with feline leukemia will not make it to their first birthday. Those living indoors may live 2-5 years.  A healthy housecat might average 10-20 years.  It’s tough to say how long a cat really lives, as demonstrated by some of our beloved residents who have surpassed age 20.


Despite all the years Ooly has lived with us, she is still wary of humans.  She’s still a chicken-lover, but she prefers it if you leave it and well… leave.  She’s gotten a bit thinner, but her green eyes are full of life, and she still has spring in her steps.  She’s more semi-feral than feral now.  I haven’t seen any aggression from her, compared to her earlier days.  Perhaps being an oldie has made her more gentle?


The most coveted spot is the high basket in the back.  All the leukemia cats can easily access it via catwalks, but us humans have to climb a ladder to even see who’s in it.  At which point, we’re likely met with suspicious stares from the basket occupants.

Chateaux with Ooly – PC

Ooly may have outlived her old friends, but she’s made new friendships.  Her current closest friend is Chateaux, who might share cuddles, body rubs, and headbonks.  I once saw them staring out the back fence together.  Recently, I noticed the newer residents, Kilo and Neptune greeting her as they passed on the catwalk and cat tree.  It’s charming to watch, since only some cats accept close encounters.  Then, Ooly jumped into the basket and joined Neko for cuddles.  I was able to pet the latter, but Ooly stayed just inches out of reach.

Neko & Ooly – PC

I would say Ooly is very much an independent old gal.  She’s gentle.  She’s not needy.  She‘s not vocal.  She might be enticed by a sparkly toy, and of course, chicken.  We’re not expecting her to suddenly turn friendly after 15 years, but it’s a nice thought.  If at anytime she wants cuddles or a warm lap from a human, she’s definitely welcome.  We would love to celebrate her 20th birthday with her!

Blog by Pauline Chin
Photos by Pauline Chin, Phaedra Hardman, Karen Nicholson, Michele Wright