Elderly animals have a tough time of it if they lose their home. Not only do they have a hard time adjusting to the loss of a home and family to which they belonged for years but they are also the least likely to be adopted. Nobody seems to want to give an older animal another chance. But these animals are bright, loving animals with engaging personalities. They will truly catch your heart. Our older animals are fostered if we can possibly find foster homes for them. It’s easier for them than coping with a shelter full of rambunctious youngsters.
People seem to have three main objections to adopting older animals: (1) “I’d rather have a young one so it will bond with me and grow into my family”, and (2) “old animals will die too soon after I’ve adopted them”, and (3) “older animals have higher vet bills.” As for (1), older animals are every bit as capable of bonding with someone new and adjusting to a new home as young ones are. They may be shy or scared at first, but watching their personalities emerge is like opening a box and finding sunshine inside; you watch with delighted surprise the first time they play or come to snuggle with you. As for (2), there’s no way to predict a life span. We can lose younger animals too soon just as older animals can surprise us and go on for years. When they end their days in a home where they were safe and loved, that’s the most precious gift anyone could give, and it’s profoundly gratifying for those who give it. As for (3), we try to arrange for “permanent foster” situations for our old animals who most need it. This means that we will cover any vet bills the animal incurs (they must see our vet) if someone will give them a loving home until they die.
Paul arrived homeless at the age of about 10 to 12 years. Although he looked ancient, he was lively and playful. An easygoing fellow, he was chosen by someone who wanted to give an oldster a chance but who already had two cranky cats. He took the new name, Leo and he made himself right at home. His adopter said, “about the only unwelcome habit Leo has is his determination to wake me up each morning with mountains of very wet kisses.” He also distinguished himself with his hearty appetite. “I am convinced that he fills up one leg at a time. He starts off in the morning with a healthy breakfast and then proceeds to go around and clean up any leftovers (I have two other cats). By 10:30 he’s ready for his mid-morning snack and by lunchtime is positively starving! Then around 4 p.m. he’s ready for his high tea and then dinner of course about 6:30 followed by another light snack just before bedtime. Sometimes his stomach is so tight I could do a drum solo on it! But considering his very deprived past, I choose to indulge him. Needless to say he’s gained a bit of weight in the past few months!” Paul had been adopted out of kindness because he was old. Yet his adopter was surprised when this gift she gave an old cat turned out to be more like a gift to her. She wrote, “Leo is a very affectionate and loyal companion. Initially I had thought of him as my ‘rescue’ cat, but I am surprised at how attached I have become to him!” She gave Paul a new life and he enriched hers.
Vespa was also found homeless late in her life. She was an endearing old cat — affectionate, gentle and well behaved. However, she was 17 years old. She went into a foster home and her foster mom said, “She’s really sweet and loving. She purrs up a storm and loves to cuddle.” She had a tattoo but it was hard to read. It traced to Port Coquitlam, a neighbouring community. Unfortunately, the tattoo was too old to find information on her former home. Her family must have written her off as dead. Vespa never did find a new home but, as far as she was concerned, she had one for the rest of her life. She won a special place in her foster mom’s heart with her sweet nature; she was loved very much until the day she passed away. Her foster mom still treasures her memory.