The photo above shows my household in the summer of 2006, and the youngest kitty in the photo is Kelly, in the center, who was 12 at the time.
From the left, Stanley, 25, is hard to see curled up behind Sophie, 17; on the desk turning around to bathe is Kelly at 12, then Namir at 13; Cookie,15, is curled up on the other side of the papers from him, then there’s Peaches having a good scratch at 16. Recently with us were Moses, 19, and Cream, 16, and joining us months later was Lucy as a young kitten.
A few things to be observed here, first that senior cats have no problem getting up on the desk, even at the advanced age of 25, as Stanley was.
Second, Peaches had come in the previous year at age 15 and fit in as if she’d always been there, so the idea that pets must be adopted young in order to fit into the household and be sufficiently bonded with its people is a myth, at least as far as I’m concerned.
Third, it’s been a while since my desk was neat, and one of the reasons has always been the habit of cats sleeping all over it! But for anyone who only knows my current household of the two senior torties, then the big jump in age to the family of black cats, Mimi and her children, here is the group that came immediately before them.
Including the two who had passed earlier in 2006, these were the cats who put me through my in-home training in caring for senior cats beginning years before this, observing for symptoms of common and not so common senior conditions such as arthritis, renal failure, hyperthyroidism, congestive heart failure and cancers which I variously treated in this group, and also conditions which they did not have such as diabetes and hypertension, plus the onset of cognitive issues such as loss of hearing and sight and feline dementia. I thank them for what they taught me, and for what they continue to teach me.
The most important lesson was that they can live long healthy lives without illness if we take care with their diet and lifestyle when they are young. This group, especially Stanley, raised the bar for my household, and where our unspoken goal for age was once 15, now 20 has been achieved more than once and two are on their way to that age. I also learned about everyday supportive care for conditions such as renal failure which can extend their lives for months or years—Stanley was diagnosed at age 21 and lived to 25, one of the reasons for his longevity was that I learned the details of renal failure and administering fluid therapy which I did at home for those four years.
Now I’m prepared for Cookie and Kelly, still relatively healthy at 17 and 19, and while I have number of years before Mimi and the Fantastic Four reach senior years I’m taking care of business with their diet and lifestyle in preparation for their senior years.
So this month we’ll have another feature from guest writer Karen Sable about adopting and caring for senior pets; senior pet care is one of the components of her full Pet First Aid certification class. I’ll be telling more stories about some of the cats you see here including Stanley and Sophie, and even Kelly’s story, as far as I know them all.
Other “pet” things to celebrate this month
“Adopt a Senior Pet Month” was brought to you by Petfinder.com, but November is also “Pet Cancer Awareness Month” brought to you by VPI Pet Insurance, “Pet Diabetes Month” brought to you by Merck Animal Health and “National Pet Awareness Month” from Pet Partners.
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