Sunday, March 29, 2009
Mama Cat -- Our Hospice Specialist
Most of us who have and love cats would no sooner give them up than we would give up a family member. We bond to them with implicit love and learn to manage their care even when it involves personal sacrifice.
Because of this, when we hear of someone surrendering their pet cat to a shelter, we automatically assume the cat "did something wrong" to break their bond with the family. This mind set helps us accept the routine shelter practice of euthanizing older cats rather than trying to find homes for them. Through our older cat program we learned the sad truth that many nice cats find their lives shortened for no other reason than they lost their home. Being a good or bad cat has little to do with it.
Mama was removed from her home of seven years because "the kids were allergic to her". To increase her adoptability, the family front-declawed her before taking her to the shelter not understanding her age would be the problem not her claws.
When we first met Mama we knew she was perfect for our Older Cats for Older People program. We placed her quickly with an assisted living facility that wanted a cat for their Alzheimer’s floor. (We had earlier fostered a little black male cat (BJ) with them and he was working out fine except some residents were superstitious about black cats and wouldn’t interact with him.) When Mama moved in, they changed BJ’s name to Papa and everyone – residents, staff and visitors delighted in the pair.
Over the years Mama showed she had a special gift for hospice care. When she sensed a resident was dying she maintained a vigil at their door until they passed providing comfort to the patient, their family and the staff providing hospice care.
After a few years Papa was returned to us when the staff replaced him with a kitten. Fortunately we found a good home for him with one of our volunteers. Shortly after, a staff member (who was Mama's primary caregiver) returned Mama to us because she was leaving for another job and was worried no one else would pick up the care.
Mama's sixteen now and has blended in well with our other cats -- both companion and feral. She's a little older and a little plumper now, but just as pleasant as ever.