When we were first married my husband and I decided to adopt a kitten, off we went to the nearest animal rescue centre looking for our dream furry baby to complete our little family. Two weeks later after approval from the RSPCA we returned from our second visit with two 12 year old female tabbies! How did one kitten turn into two 12 years old? The charm of the older cat is what happened……. when I saw them in the cat pen I was totally bewitched……..
The one called Tammy was very vocal and told me in her feline way that she was the cat for me and she was here to completely take over my life, oh and her quiet hiding sister was part of the deal, a kind of feline buy one get one free! When my husband saw the quiet sister called Giz, he was totally in love! I remember him saying what a beautiful face she had and he had to have her. So home with us they came, totally taking over our tidy pristine home so typical of newlyweds with no kids……
It soon became apparent that the rules in our house about the cats would soon go out the window. The rule of no cats on the bed was redundant after only a day, the one about only being allowed in certain rooms followed soon after. The rule that the cats only needed one bed each was soon forgotten, everything and everywhere was a cat bed. As all cat people know, the house is theirs; we just pay the bills and clean it!
Apart from falling in love with our retired felines, it made perfect sense to adopt older cats, they didn’t venture very far so I wasn’t worried about them staying out all night like naughty teenagers. They weren’t really into fighting, but Giz did see a dog out of the garden once, when a fence was down…..in fact Giz was quite a character where dogs were concerned and often slept in my mother’s dog’s bed when it stayed and ate all the dog biscuits, poor dog only had one eye and would often sit on Giz in the bed and receive many a cat paw in the face.
Giz was a very plump older lady and many people thought with her young tiny head, she was pregnant until I told them how old she was and she wasn’t interested in that type of thing! Poor Giz was on a diet the whole time she lived with us, but she was never going to get into a bikini any time soon. We had to fit a larger cat flap for her as she got stuck in the first one…..I believe that sadly due to both her and Tammy being in the rescue centre for a long time due to their age, this made her eat too much as she was most likely very bored. It’s very sad indeed that most people go for kittens over older cats in rehoming centres; they think they won’t live so long but both Tammy and Giz lived to 19 and 23!
Tammy was quite vocal and very demanding and would often pat my eyelids with a paw in the mornings if I didn’t get up and feed her when she wanted but there was a softer side to her and she always knew when I was feeling sad or poorly and would be by my side. She was also a very fussy eater and often had me cooking her chicken or fish instead of her usual cat food. She could also pee for England and I will never forget my vet trips in the car when that tail would suddenly pop out from the cat carrier and point, followed by projectile pee aiming at the dashboard!
Tammy and Giz were the inspiration for me setting up my cat sitting business 16 years ago and I’ve never looked back. Many people come to me as they need someone who can care for their older cat, with love, care and being able to give medications. I have a few tricks to help giving tablets and I’m also happy to give insulin injections. As part of my role as a cat sitter I sometimes have the responsibility to take poorly cats to the vets, sadly sometimes this means being there for the cat on their final journey, I would also never leave a cat alone to be euthanized, they are friends after all and I want to say goodbye. I get to meet many cats and it’s the older cats that have so much charm and character and I would recommend adopting older cats every time. So when you think about getting a kitten, take a moment to think if you could have an older cat in your life in their retirement years.
This blog post first appeared on katzenworld.co.uk on March 30th, 2019