What does “senior” mean to you and your cat? Your vet may tell you when your cat reaches 9 years old, you’ve got a senior in your life. Nine’s not that old, is it?!
From time to time, for various reasons, older cats find themselves waking up in an animal shelter. Because older animals require more attention and medical care, shelters limit the number of senior pets on the adoption floor. A seasoned cat lover knows the worth of these still young-a-heart pets: they are grateful for a comfortable bed, sleep more, and are less likely to get into all that trouble a curious kitty can cause.
I admire the adopters who come to the shelter and fall in love with a 12-year-old kitty. Theirs is an instant love that will last just a handful of years. These special adopters forego the joys of kittenhood. You remember: the sharp needle-claws catching on everything, the midnight playtime, the absolutely adorable little ball of fur who stole your heart. Every kitten, however, eventually becomes a senior cat.
It was just yesterday that my own cat, Mack, was a 4-week-old abandoned kitten in need of a foster home. A tiny, curious tabby who grew and grew, and grew, Mack topped out at a robust 15 pounds. This afternoon he was chasing the light beam from a flashlight, dragging his favorite toy up the hardwood stairs, and chasing Clio around. In the dusky twilight of the day, he is a creaky old cat with IBD, kidney issues, and cloudy eyes from which he can hardly see. Where did the 17 years go?
After years of companionship, I will do whatever I can to make Mack’s last days pleasing and easy, even at the risk of eye rolls from some family members and friends who think I go a little too far. Living with an ancient cat isn’t all snuggles. Mack gets a pill every morning, fluids every other day, requires a diet limited to peas and venison, sleeps in a warm bed most of the day, and sometimes misses the litter box (not for trying).
Would you do that for a cat you just met? If the answer is yes, let me assure you there are some wonderful older cats in need of a person. Right now, Oregon Humane has three senior cats, and the Cat Adoption Team has six available for adoption, like Ada. She’s loving and as playful as an 8-year-old can be. Weekly fluids and a prescription diet will keep her vibrant for many more years. (http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/23848543)
I resign myself that 2013 could be Mack’s last year. For cats like Ada, Curry, Ting, and the other seniors, it could be the first year of a glorious retirement lounging in a warm sunspot in your living room. Find out more about why senior cats make terrific pets: http://tinyurl.com/seniorcat