Many may recognize the line about smiling "at the old days," having been "beautiful then," from the song "Memory" from the musical "Cats." How appropriate it is for our furry friends that spend most of their days napping and looking out windows. You can almost read their minds and see the longing in their eyes for their younger days. Not to worry. With age comes wisdom and the sense to slow down. We all know how quickly youth flies by. Thank goodness! Now we can relax.
Animal Welfare Society has a Senior Cats for Senior Citizens program that was started five years ago by one of our long time shelter volunteers, Maryanne Gardner. Maryanne wanted to do something to help generate the adoptions of our senior cats, and she came up with this idea. Any person 60 years of age or older can adopt a cat 6 years of age or older with no adoption fee. We ran ads advertising and asking for funding to help get this program off the ground. As usual, our community came through for us, and we have been able to place many senior cats in loving homes. If you would like to donate to our senior fund please contact our shelter or visit our Web site, www.aws-shelter.org. We all know that 60 is not old, and the same goes for our 6-year-old cats. They have many, many more good years left. It is a proven fact that seniors that have pets live longer, healthier lives.
When I first started volunteering at the shelter, I was worried seeing all the adult cats. I thought how are they going to find a home when we have so many kittens looking for homes. My fears were short lived. One after another adult cat went home to loving pet parents. We had blind cats, cats with one eye, cats on medications for one issue or another. All went to their forever homes. I remember the first time I saw an adoption take place. The new owner came in to pick up her new friend. The collar went on, nails were trimmed and we all said our goodbyes. I had to walk away because I was starting to cry. I still cry thinking about it. Thank goodness you can't see the tear stains on my paper. This still takes place over and over. When we come in to the shelter in the morning to feed and clean the sweetest words ever are "Guess who got adopted yesterday?"!
The most amazing story of a cat adoption was when Cocoa got adopted. We had taken in a beautiful brown cat. If you know anything about cats you know that is almost unheard of. Cats are rarely brown. She was this gorgeous shade of brown, hence the name Cocoa, and her facial features blended in perfectly. Her nose was a pinky brown and she had goldish brown eyes. She would lounge in her cage looking very regal with paws crossed in front of her. One day a woman came in and explained she was looking for a cat for her mother. She said she knew she was asking for the impossible but her mother had a dream about a brown cat. Our manager said we have just the cat and showed her Cocoa. The woman called her mother and said you're not going to believe this but I found you your brown cat! In the carrier Cocoa went off to her forever home.
Over and over, the stories continue. People seem to understand the value in an adult cat. Another favorite cat of mine was recently adopted out to an elderly gentleman who wanted a lap cat for a companion. This particular cat had come to the shelter because her elderly owner had passed away. We could tell she had been his little princess and it would take a special person to replace the owner she lost. She was at our shelter approximately five years, and during that time she became a favorite of the volunteers. We couldn't understand why she was never adopted. We found the answer when this gentleman’s needs were known. It was as if she was waiting all this time for this particular gentleman to be ready for her. Now we are kept up to date on how she is doing, and if pictures could talk we would hear the purring from both of them.
Never under estimate what an adult cat has to offer. I came upon a poem awhile back, “This Old Cat” by K.C. Bigamon. Look it up online, as I think it says it all.
April is cat-care month. Do something nice for your furry friend. Kindness will come back to you tenfold. Something as simple as an extra hug or rub tells your cat it is special and means as much to you as you mean to it.