Young at heart: nothing but love left in a senior pet

What’s in an age?

Puppies, kittens…we all know they’re irresistible. But, what about those animals that perhaps blend in the background, that are happy just lying in a puddle of sunshine for hours on end, and have that sort of wise, experienced look to them?

Senior animals, while just as cute and cuddly, have a hard time finding their forever home. Whether it’s due to a situation from a previous owner or they’re a stray, there are senior animals who are left to tough it out in shelters, hoping that one day someone will open their heart.

Luckily, some people do.

In the video below, senior animals are showcased to show just how deserving of a home they are. The BC SPCA and Katie’s Place Animal Shelter are interviewed on the realities of a senior animal in a shelter and their observation of the situation today. Also, those who saw all a senior pet could give are featured and tell their story of finding each other.


If you’re looking specifically for a senior cat, Katie’s Place Animal Shelter, featured in the video, is the perfect place.

Katie’s Place deals with only the last chance cases of cats. They started in 2001 with a group of six animal lovers in a borrowed barn that was called Katie’s Place, because the original cat resident of the barn was named Katie.

The cats there may be senior, very young, strays or cats with health or behaviour problems.

Barbara Paulic and Christine Garlick are volunteers at Katie’s Place. They see a number of senior cats come in and out of their care. Through their own experience, they have nothing but positive things to say about owning a senior.

“Often we find that if you get a senior cat into a home, they’re a lot more low maintenance than a young cat,” said Garlick and Paulic. “A lot of senior cats do enjoy playing but they’re going to be good for about 10 minutes and then they’re going to need a nap after that. They’re going to be quite happy to just sleep in a puddle of sunshine or on your lap versus a young cat who is going to need attention constantly.”

Paulic and Garlick suggest when adopting a senior, or even a young animal, to have a plan ready. While it’s a mainly positive experience, it’s important to have pet insurance or to put some money aside.

“If you adopt a young animal, make sure you keep it throughout it’s entire life so that they don’t go into the shelter system because there’s not a lot of Katie’s Places around. If you can make space for an animal, do it. Show some compassion, plan on having compassion,” said Paulic and Garlick. “If you take a chance on seniors, they’ll surprise you in all kinds of really awesome ways.”

Video below: Christine Garlick introduces some of the loveable senior cats that were up for adoption at the time of this being filmed (January).

Of course, another main spot to find the perfect senior pet for you is the BC SPCA.

Jodi Dunlop sees many seniors come through the door being the Vancouver branch manager. Dunlop said seniors sometimes end up in shelters mostly because of something happening to their guardians.

“Whether it be the fact that they’re going into a senior home or being hospitalized, we see a lot of that. But, we’ve also seen people give up their senior animals because the kids have gone off to college or university and the parents want to travel. We’ve seen a lot of that, which is really unfortunate,” said Dunlop.

For seniors, it is a difficult transition to go into a kennel. Dunlop said they try their best to keep the animals happy, but it won’t ever be what they truly deserve.

“It can be difficult. A cat that’s been in a home that doesn’t have any other animals and then comes here…they’re surrounded by other cats and different people looking at them. Dogs, same thing. They like to curl up on a couch or by a fire or just by their own bed,” said Dunlop. “A home environment is not like a shelter environment. We do our best to make sure the animals have everything they need but it’s still not the same as a nice warm cozy home.”

Video below: Jodi Dunlop introduces a sweet senior cat and two adorable senior dogs that were up for adoption at the time of filming (January).

Those like Sugar, Sochi, Yogi and Tux were lucky senior animals who found their loving owner and warm home. But there are still many senior animals in shelters waiting right now.

In an interview in 2011, the BC SPCA said that at “any given time” they have upwards of 10-15 mature cats and dogs in most of their shelters.

Katie’s Place, which focuses on last chance cats processes around 350 to 450 cats a year. A good chunk of that number would include seniors.

Elmi Le Roux, adopter of Sugar, Sochi and Yogi, and Lisa Wagner, adopter of Tux, chose to open their hearts to a senior and haven’t looked back since.

“There’s just a lot of life experience that comes with owning a senior dog. It’s also really emotionally fulfilling knowing that maybe he wouldn’t have got a chance if somebody didn’t consider adopting a senior,” said Wagner, who is also the operations director of Walks ‘N’ Wags Pet First Aid.

“It has been more rewarding for me than the cats because the love that you get from them is…I can not explain it. It’s as if they understand that you took a chance and they just give you love everyday,” said Le Roux.

Because you can never see too many irresistibly cute senior animals…watch the slideshow below to see more seniors that I was lucky to meet at Katie’s Place and the BC SPCA, and also more pictures of Tux, Lisa Wagners senior dog, and Yogi, Sochi and Sugar, Elmi’s senior cats.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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