Good reasons why you should adopt a senior pet

posted by Julie Bank - President and CEO of the Pasadena Humane Society - 

Fourteen-year-old Graysea arrived at the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA in November of 2017. His owner fell ill and was no longer able to provide him with the care he needed. While Graysea was in good shape, he was a senior, which automatically made it difficult for him to find a home. Fearful of medical or behavioral problems, adopters march right by the older pets towards the kittens. Senior pets often sit and wait for months until that special person comes in to adopt them. 

Graysea was used to living in a home, spending his days snoozing on the bed. Now, he was living in a small kennel at the shelter with noises and smells from other animals all around him. His stress level was high and he spent his days hiding in the back of the cage.  

The staff and volunteers noticed Graysea’s fearful behavior and made it their mission to try to help him feel comfortable. At first, they gave him toys, thinking that might help him come out of his shell. Then they put him into the Wallflower program, where volunteers sit quietly with shy animals hoping they will seek out affection. When the cats come over, the volunteers stroke them quietly, going at each cat’s pace. Graysea responded well to this program and quickly solicited pets and attention when the volunteers arrived. Ultimately, Graysea was moved to one of the communal rooms where he could have more space, take comfort in other cats and could stand out a bit more in the hope that someone would see him for all his beauty. 

Months passed and no one looked at Graysea. He was beginning to get depressed, not wanting to eat or socialize as much anymore. The staff and volunteers were sad as well, as they knew he would make someone a wonderful companion, but who? The Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA ramped up their efforts to find Graysea a home. He was made pet of the week, he had an updated profile photo on the website, and he appeared many times on social media. But in 34 weeks, no one had come forward to adopt him.

After seven months in our care, I decided that this would be the week I wrote about Graysea to try to find him a home. As I was typing out the intro to the column, I heard my cell phone ping. I opened up the text message and you’ll never believe what it said, “A family with two kids just came asking to adopt the cat that has been at the shelter the longest. Graysea is getting adopted!”

While I’m thrilled that Graysea found a home, I would like to take a moment to encourage everyone to consider adopting an older cat. During kitten season, it can be hard to look past the tiny meowing furballs to see the more mature cats that also need a home. With older pets, you already get to see their personality, which helps to match the right pet with the right person. They also come trained, knowing how to use the litter box and how to maneuver through a home. They are much calmer, which means you do not have to worry about them climbing your furniture or your curtains. Older cats still like to play, but don’t have the unlimited energy of kittens.

Many people assume that older cats are turned in due to medical problems, but that is not usually the case. Many of these cats have come from homes that provided preventive medical care which means they are in great medical shape and can live for many more years.

Graysea has found his forever home, but there are still many more homeless senior pets in the shelter. Cats like Barney, an 11-year-old brown tabby, or dogs like Oliver, a 13-year-old, special needs poodle mix. To get started on your adoption journey, view all the animals in need of a home at pasadenahumane.org/pets.

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