Kids & Pets
April 28, 2017
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Older animals prove hardest to adopt out

By: Mickey Zeldes
March 3, 2017
All About Pets

I’ve written before about senior animals in the shelter, but I think we just broke a record. We just adopted out a 19-year-old cat! Our last shocking record was a nearly 20-year-old cat that came in as a stray and was reclaimed by her family. 

Considering that only 16 percent of the stray cats that come in here go back home, that is a miracle. But I can understand someone who is responsible and caring would want their senior pet back, assuming they knew to look in the shelter in the first place. 

What impressed me about this adoption is that someone voluntarily took on this older animal.

I’m not sure who would have a harder time landing in a shelter – a senior cat that got lost and had been on his own for a while? Perhaps he would be happy to be brought in – a regular bowl of yummy food, fresh clean litter for a bathroom, friendly humans wanting to pet and groom him. 

Coming from the streets he might think he hit the big time. Or would it be harder for a much loved, pampered kitty that was surrendered because of her owner’s death or declining health. 

Not only does that cat lose her special person but her home and lifestyle. What a mind trip it must be to be put in a carrier, driven to the shelter, put into a cage with a lot of other cats around and not really be able to understand what is happening.

Cats are such creatures of habit that any change is traumatic for them. Older cats coming into the shelter usually react by either being totally defensive (hissing, swatting, growling and ultimately biting) or by just shutting down – not eating, sleeping in their litterbox, freezing when touched, etc. The latter at least makes handling the cat a little easier but neither is good and those cats are not very adoptable. 

The amazing thing about Miss Kitty, the 19-year-old cat, was that she seemed fine with the transition. Not only was she a friendly, outgoing cat, health-wise she was like a 10-year-old!

Miss Kitty was plump, not thin as most senior cats are, and her coat was in great condition. Her blood panel came back fine – no signs of kidney or liver problems or diabetes. 

Those are the three big things to look for as a cat becomes mature. 

We get in lots of thin, sickly older cats, not good adoption candidates at all. But if Miss Kitty had come in as a stray and we were left on our own to figure out her age she would have been classified as 10-12 years old, given a clean bill of health and put up for adoption without question.

Figuring it would be a challenge to find someone willing to adopt a cat knowing that she was in the upper teens we turned to social media for help. I was amazed that within 24 hours of posting Miss Kitty on our Facebook page we had an adopter already lined up! Such is the power of Facebook. If you are not already a part of our caring corps of Facebook fans please join us. 

The more people we have sharing our adoptable animals and strays the wider our net is cast, and the more powerful this tool becomes. Join us and we can all help more animals like Miss Kitty! 

 

Upcoming events

• “Get Them Back Home” campaign: Every lost pet should have a way to get back home. Free pet ID tags and back-up microchips are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. 

No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wednesday 1-6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday 1-5:30 p.m.; and Sunday 1-4:30 p.m.

 

• Fix-it clinics: Free spay and neuters for cats and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 pounds) are available for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call (707) 588-3531 for an appointment.

 

Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at mzeldes@rpcity.org.