I missed “Adopt a Senior Pet Month” by a couple of days but here’s my story.
After I put my cat, Simon, to sleep in January of 2011, I wanted to wait to adopt another cat until i found the right one. I didn’t begin my search for a cat until 8 months later. My criteria was:
- An orange or beige cat to match my carpet (less vacuuming!)
- An older cat since they are frequently overlooked
- A cat that wouldn’t be scooped up right away because it was overly cute
- Already declawed (yes, I know it’s terrible but I wanted a cat that had it done already. I have not and do not plan to declaw Milo for the record.)
I reached out to a few shelters that had cats that might fit the bill but for whatever reason they weren’t the right one. Some of them didn’t get along with other dogs or cats, some were already adopted, etc.
Even though I no longer lived with my parents I discussed the idea with them. My dad, an animal lover, thought every cat was a great cat. My mom, an animal tolerater, was not keen on the idea of me getting another cat and shot down every cat i showed her (not literally shot! I realize the phrasing of that sentence sounds bad, lol.) Anyway, my mom did not approve of any cat until i showed her Tony’s picture on Petfinder. Only then did she say “Oh, maybe you should call about him.” I figured that was a sign that Tony was the right one for me.
Tony was a 22lb cat that had been dumped at a New Jersey shelter by someone claiming a neighbor had left him behind when they moved. The problem with that story was that they knew too much about the cat. I think the cat was theirs, and they got tired of dealing with his issues, which of course they neglected to tell the shelter about.
When I visited Tony that same night (the shelter stayed open late to accommodate my availability) he was squished in a tiny cage as that was the only option they had for him. He took one look at me and gave me the evil eye. They took him out of the cage, put him on the floor, and he promptly ran under the row of cages. I offered to sit and wait for him to come out which he eventually did when he smelled the treats I brought him. However, he wouldn’t eat any. He just sat there hissing at me.
I liked his attitude and knew not many other people would, so I said I would take him. The staff thought I was nuts but agreed to let me take him home that night (they didn’t even charge me, but I gave them a donation anyway). I guess any person who had that much patience for an angry cat must be a good person.
I adopted Tony without knowing if he was friendly with other cats or dogs. I also didn’t know about his issues. I didn’t find out about those until a few months later. Initially, all seemed okay. When we arrived home, I barricaded Tony in the hallway so that he could assimilate into the family at a slow pace. Well, he wasn’t having any of it. He sat there a bit and let the Chihuahua and the other cat smell him through the gate then pushed past it and entered the main area. No one fought, so I let it be.
He wasn’t the friendliest cat, but I learned his quirks like he only likes to be petted with your feet (I’m guessing he was abused at some point) unless he comes to sit or lay on top of you. I need to let him do his thing otherwise he gets upset.
The only real issue he has is marking with a lot of urine which started once I introduced Milo to the mix. Milo wants to play and Tony wants no part in it. I believe Tony is just trying to show he’s upset. Because he doesn’t have claws, when he swats at someone or another animal, they aren’t too bothered by it, so I think he gets frustrated.
Lately, Tony has been slowly integrating himself into the group. I find that he now sleeps on the couches even when other pets are on them. He has slept in cat beds that are laying around – even if they are way too small for him. He even sprawls out on the floor when Eli and I play fetch in the hallway. However, if anyone gets too close to him or if he gets spooked, he springs up and runs away.
It’s taken three years but Tony is finally starting to act like he’s part of the family. I am still the only one he lets pet him, but that’s okay; I know he’s happier here than in the shelter, and I believe that I saved him from being returned back to the shelter once he started marking. We work through his issues and make accommodations for the situations that cause him stress like getting stalked by Milo when using the litter box – I’ve added a litter box in the bedroom so that he can usually do his business without another animal in his face, also that litter box is huge which allows his giant body to easily fit in and turn around without feeling squished helped the problem a bit.
Tony is now 15 years old. He has lost a few pounds but is still a giant cat. While he still doesn’t fully trust me, I have gained his trust enough to know he’s living a great life and is overall content.
Senior pets make the best pets. Try it; you won’t regret it.