I see it all too often. The playful, undeniably adorable little kittens (and puppies) are always picked over the calm, quiet, snuggly older cats (and dogs).
It's natural to gravitate toward the kittens. Baby animals are damn cute, and if someone brought me a kitten right now I wouldn't turn it away. But the senior cats and dogs, once adorable babies, too, who've been abandoned and surrendered to a shelter — these are the animals who really need more human attention and affection.
November is recognized nationally by shelters and rescue groups as "Adopt a Senior Pet Month," but this doesn't mean we should forget about those sweet oldies the rest of the year.
While the cons — health problems/risks, cost of care, emotional attachment fears — of adopting an animal nearing the end of its life are often the reasons people choose kittens first, older pets have many positive qualities often overlooked. They're calm. They're (usually) trained, or if not, they're actually better at catching on than younger animals. And, in more cases than with a younger animal, you're probably really saving a life when you adopt an older pet.
I'll admit I used to more often gravitate to the cuter and more active younger cats hanging out in the shelter's kitty room where I volunteer. But in the past couple years, a very special senior cat entered my life, and I've become totally won over by the quirks and qualities of senior cats.
But there are too many cats out there like her who aren't as lucky to have such a loving home. Countless senior pets are patiently waiting, right now, for the day they're not overlooked, and someone comes to pick them instead of their younger, rowdy kennel neighbors. Pets like Star.
This beautiful, regal calico came to the Spokane Humane Society in March of this year, and because of her age and a (manageable) health issue, she's been waiting for a home for the eight months since. Shelter staff can't pinpoint why, because Star is the definition of a "star" cat. She's already declawed in the front, although she's so quiet and well-mannered, she'd probably never think of being destructive.
Just because a cat has passed their kitten stage doesn't mean they're done with play time, and Star loves to bat around a toy or two when she's feeling frisky.
Since coming to the shelter, Star has been diagnosed with a very manageable condition, common in older cats, called hyperthyroidism. This requires her to take an inexpensive ($16/month) tablet twice a day, mixed into her food.
Star would do best in a calmer, quiet home. She doesn't particularly enjoy being around kids, who don't always understand she can't play all the time. All she really needs is someone who'll let her snuggle in their lap every once and a while. She doesn't really mind other cats, and lived with a feline companion before she was surrendered to the shelter.
Star was recently featured at last weekend's Spokane Humane Society Furr Ball gala, at the Davenport Hotel, where many guests doted over her beautiful, silky fur and her incredible calmness in such a busy, loud setting. Unfortunately, even though she seemed to win the hearts of many that night, she didn't find the home she longs for.
How wonderful if Star found a home for the holidays. She's not the only senior cat at SHS looking for a human to snuggle, though, and her other longtime friends at the shelter include Tigger, Stash, George, Fancy, Sam and Luna. SHS's partner shelters (SpokAnimal, SCRAPS) also have senior pets looking for homes, so if Star's not the cat for you, that's okay. We believe her special day will come!