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Thinking of surrendering your cat to a shelter? Think that your cat would be better off in a different home where she won’t be alone all day long? Feel like you can’t figure out how to feed a cat on a budget? Can’t afford veterinary care? Having a baby and think that babies and cats don’t mix?
Whatever your reason may be, we’re here to help out, with cat care articles and cat forums where you can get some advice. We ask that you re-consider surrendering the cat, even more so if your cat is a senior cat.
But today I am writing not about adopting a new cat, but about keeping your senior cat with you. Unfortunately, once surrendered to a shelter, older kitties are rarely adopted. Potential adopters are concerned about possible medical conditions such as chronic kidney disease, arthritis and diabetes and about existing behavior problems that may have caused the cat to be surrendered in the first place. It’s a sad reality that every shelter worker and volunteer knows too well. The cute kittens are the first to be adopted and the young adult cats come next. Senior cats? The chances for adoption are slim to none. That’s why no-kill shelters, where the policy is not to put cats to sleep, rarely take in older cats. Regular shelters and pounds do, but the senior cats’ survival rates there are meager. Few and far between, there are cat sanctuaries where cats, especially senior and special-needs cats, receive life-long care from the staff. If you absolutely need to surrender your cat, try looking for one. They usually ask for a well-deserved donation that will help care for your cat.
Another reason why you shouldn’t give up on a senior cat is the trauma for the cat. Even if you find the cat a good forever home, even that will be extremely stressful. The older the cat, the more set in its ways it is, and the more attached to you and your family. Breaking existing social ties and being moved to a new home, with new people and new routines, is difficult for any cat, with the possible exception of kittens.
With senior cats, the move can be too overwhelming. It’s not so much the territorial aspects – cats manage a move fairly well – it’s being torn from its family that is likely to cause the most stress. The cat will take far longer to adjust and may literally get sick from a broken heart, having been parted from his/her family. Add to that a sheltered phase, where the cat may be caged for a while, and surrendering him or her to a shelter simply becomes too much for a frail senior.
Have a heart and do all that you can to keep your senior cat with you. We can help you overcome hurdles by providing advice, but it is your own commitment to your elderly cat that can save her life.