When I first moved to Southend on Sea in England seven years ago, one of the first things I wanted to do was to adopt a cat or two because I wasn’t able to have one in America due to my ex husband’s allergies. My new husband and I had planned on adopting two kittens, so we were surprised when two cats chose us from the Southend on Sea Cats Protection League.
The Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity. They help more than 215,000 cats and kittens every year through their network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 29 adoption centers. The Southend and District branch is our local league and we contacted them to see if they had two young kittens that we could adopt.
The first step was a nice lady came to our house to see if it was suitable for homing a cat and she interviewed me about our lifestyle and what we would like to have in a cat. I told her that my husband had always wanted a tortoise shell cat and she said they had a few to rehome but then she said that there were two older cats that she thought would be perfect for us. I wasn’t very interested because I didn’t want older cats, and they weren’t tortoise shell, but I told her we’d have a look as there were some young torties at the same foster home.
When we arrived at the foster home, which was located on a private acreage, we saw that it was a volunteer that was putting in all this hard work caring for many cats at her home. She had cats that lived in her house as well as cats in out buildings and little kennels. She obviously loved them all and spoke to them lovingly and knew all their personalities and needs. She showed us the tortoise shell kittens first, two of them, they were young juvenile cats who had both just had a litter at a very young age. We liked them but had promised to see the two older cats.
She led us back to a kennel that was about the size of a walk in closet. She opened the door and said “This is Zack and Chloe.” A gray tabby cat, Chloe, came out first and promptly sat at my feet and held up a paw. I was hooked already. Then a large black cat, Zack, came out and was saying “meeeow, meow, meow” very vocally and insistently. Little did I know, he sealed the deal. The lady told us that they had been in the shelter for over a year, that a girl had owned them and when the girl went to university, her father couldn’t care for them so brought them to the Cats Protection. Just knowing that they were in that closet sized space for a year broke our hearts.
We went on holiday that following week and decided to think about which we’d like. The poor tortoise kitties never had a chance. All we talked about was how cute Chloe was when she came out with her paw raised in the air and how funny Zack was saying “meow” over and over in his funny sing-song way. There was no question by the end of the trip that the two older cats, both six years old, would be the ones we would adopt.
We were required to pay a 30 pound (about $45) adoption fee for each cat and to bring a suitable carry kennel to take them home. On the way home, Chloe was sick in the carrier but they both seemed bright and curious once out of there. They didn’t take long to not only settle into our home but to take over our hearts as well.
Unfortunately, we learned a few months later that both cats were infected with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Chloe was so ill that she had to be put down. The Cats Protection were mortified as they don’t usually adopt out cats with FIV, so they paid for Chloe’s vet bill and said they would pay for Zack’s the rest of his life if we wanted to keep him. We loved him already so there was no question he would stay with us. Caring for an FIV cat takes some work, as I wrote in my article, Caring for a Cat With Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. However, he has provided years of happiness and joy and I would not trade him for any cat in the world. He is now approximately 14 years old and has led an extremely pampered and loved life.
I would strongly recommend considering adopting an older cat. They adjust quickly and bring lots of happiness to a household.