This is Bella, one of two cats my husband and I took into our home after my Mother went into the Nursing home.
My Mother was still quite healthy and living independently at the age of 85. She resided in a one bedroom apartment about 40 minutes from our home. At the age of 85, yes 85 years old, my Mother unbeknownst to me, went and bought two kittens from a pet store. When I discovered this I was shocked that at her age she not only had 2 tiny new kittens but that she purchased them from a pet store. My Mother then, without my knowledge took the kittens and had them declawed. During her lifetime of owning cats she never had any cat declawed. I was horrified that she did this to the kittens. These poor kittens already had 3 strikes against them before they were 3 months old. They began their life in a pet store only to be sold to an elderly woman who then had them declawed.
Within a year my Mothers physical and mental functioning plummeted dramatically and she had to move into a nursing home. She left behind two CATS with no provisions for their future. I was then faced a moral dilemma. I really did not want two more cats. I knew full well that if these cats went to a pound or rescue they would be close to unadoptable because they weren’t cute kittens anymore and they were not really socialized.
Faced with those facts, my husband and I opted to take them to live with us and our other cats. It was not an easy transition for anyone. It took months of work to normalize Bella and Gigi’s behaviors. It took over six months for Bella and her sister Gigi to leave our second floor to explore our first floor. To this day Bella is reviled by all of the other cats, even her sister. She lacks claws to defend herself and feline social skills needed to avoid bullying from the other cats. Her only positive social interaction is with me or my husband. We are her protectors.
It is uncomfortable for some folks to contemplate their own mortality, but before adopting that cute puppy or kitten, you must. My husband and I are in our 50’s and we have decided that from this point on if we ever adopt again, we will adopt a senior pet. Anyone over the age of 60 needs to recognize the facts and risks of adopting a kitten or puppy. The average age life expectancy for a small dog or the average cat is 15 yrs. If you are 60 years or older and adopt a kitten or puppy you run the risk of having your pet outlive you.
Everyone should have plans made for the aftercare of their beloved pets. In reality though, the person who promised to adopt your pet 5 years ago may not be able to so do at the time of your death. Make sure your plans are confirmed every 6 months. Otherwise your faithful friend could end up at a shelter alone, scared, and confused. I have seen photos of these senior dogs and cats who have outlived their owners. It is heartbreaking.
I am not saying that after the age of 60 do not own pets, what I am saying is look at the risks to your pets and other options. There are thousands of senior dogs and cats out there who need homes, investigate adopting a senior pet. Or look into fostering a pet until they can find a forever home. Contact your local rescue and speak with someone who can help match your lifestyle and realistic ability to provide for a pet’s needs to an appropriate pet. If growing older with a senior pet or fostering is not realistic given your age or health then volunteer at a pet rescue.