Saving Senior Cats one at a time

 Author’s Note: Many thanks to Miss Leslie Cobb for letting me interview her about the senior cats in her house. Pictures used with permission.  Miss Leslie is also an artist with a focus on painting cats with special needs or compelling rescue stories. She donates some of the proceeds from my art back to the shelters, rescues or sanctuaries that care for these cats.  Volunteers annually at Best Friends Animal Society. The website is lesliecobb.com and Facebook page is Cat Art by Leslie Cobb

 

I currently have 8 seniors, 4 adopted when they were young and 4 adopted as seniors. I’ll post a photo and details about each one below. I started adopting seniors because so many people won’t. They still have so much love to give and they deserve a safe and loving home in their golden years. I think people worry that an older cat won’t bond with them the way a kitten does but that’s just not true. Rex, the love of my life, was 14 when I adopted him, and although we only had 1.5 years together, I have no regrets.

Tallulah Jane has been with me the longest. She was 6 weeks old and half dead when someone gave her to me at an art fair. It took 3 months before she recovered from a severe feline herpesvirus infection. She has chronic upper respiratory problems still. She will be on antibiotics and over-the-counter eye ointment for lufe. I also have to flush the excess mucus from her nose with a bottle of eyewash every day.

Riley was adopted just a few months after Tallulah. In fact, she chose him! At the time she was my only kitten and the other cats were annoyed by her so I decided to adopt a young cat as a playmate. I brought her with me in a shoulder bag to an adoption event by a local rescue. When she met Riley, she patted him on the head and turned to look at me as if to say, “he’s the one!” Riley has a malformed epiglottis and that causes him to have very loud breathing, especially when he eats. It scared other potential adopters away. But overall he’s healthy. He is quite skittish since he came out of a feral colony.

Annabel was about 6 months old when I saw her at an adoption event where I was selling my art to benefit a shelter’s medical fund. People would see her playing in the cage and say, “How cute!” but when she turned to look at them they would back away, saying “Eww, what happened to her eye?” She was found orphaned at only a few days old and was placed with a lactating mom cat whose babies had died. Unfortunately it turned out that the mom cat had an upper respiratory infection and she passed it on to Annabel and her littermates. Her eye was damaged before she was old enough to open it. She has limited vision in that eye and it’s not painful. She’s 12 now.

Genevieve is 10 and she has the same eye damage as Annabel but to a lesser extent. A local rescue group was having trouble getting her eye infections under control so I offered to foster her and take her to a specialist. She got along so well with my other cats once her infections cleared up that I decided to keep her.

Vivian was 12 when I adopted her; she’s 19 now, the oldest in my family. She had been surrendered to a shelter with her brother, but he was sick and had to be euthanized. Losing her home and brother, and ending up in a shelter cage surrounded by strange cats, traumatized her. She became fear-aggressive toward other cats. I consulted with a veterinary behaviorist and started what turned into a ten month desensitization and counter conditioning program. She went from attacking inanimate objects that another cat had touched to now being able to snuggle with her feline siblings. She’s amazingly healthy for her age.

I’ve had Gladys just under two years; she’s around 17. She’s deaf and hyperthyroid, and her kidneys are failing. She also hates other cats so she spends most of her time in her own room. She takes medication for her thyroid and gets sub-q fluids every day for her kidney disease.

Herman’s been with me since December and he’s around 13. His human mom died the same day as my own mother, and her hospice coordinator asked my advice on how to find him a new home. It seemed like it was meant to be so I told her he could come live with me. He’s a sweet and healthy boy but he and my one young cat don’t get along. I have both of them on Prozac in an attempt to lessen their aggression toward each other.

Last but not least, Nico is the newest member of the family. I saw his photo on FB in March and had to help. He’s 18, and in the photo his right eye was a slightly bulging solid white. I had to have it removed. His owner had cancer and had to give him up when she could no longer care for him. He’s still working on finding his place here.

There have been many others over the years that are no longer with me. Poor Humphrey passed away only five days after I adopted him, and Midori made it just five months. Shiloh was expected to live only a few weeks or months but he was with me for three years against all odds.

I go into each adoption knowing it might be a short relationship. I give them live for however long I can.

 

Love, not live
I have their ashes and will probably plant memorial bushes for each one at my new home once I move. They’re all loved family members no matter how short or long a time we had together.