Observations & Photowalks

Charismatic felines – are you thinking of adopting one?

On Sunday I once again joined Kate (and this time her assistant, Jayde) to photograph the current residents of  Cat Haven – a refuge for homeless, abused and lost cats that is located in the Perth suburb of Shenton Park.

The cats are photographed for Cat Haven’s social media sites, for the local newspaper and to help spread the word not only about which cats are available for adoption but  about Cat Haven’s work, facilities (such as boarding and vet clinics) and to promote the benefits of adopting an older cat.

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These cats  were photographed at Cat Haven on Sunday June 5th 2011. They may have already been adopted or fostered or they may still be waiting for you.

NOTE – All opinions are my own, those of the people I have sought for opinion and the authors of suggested articles to read. This article has not been officially authorised by Cat Haven or by any other shelter.

Looking into the soulful and bright eyes of these charismatic furry friends, it’s hard to believe that they’d need any help finding homes. Sadly, they are often left waiting for weeks, sometimes even for many months as their smaller kitten friends are adopted.

Of course, EVERY cat is special and a loving, safe home is sought for all of them. But what are the benefits of taking home an older cat? I put the question to my Twitter followers, asking who had an older cat and what do they love about them?

“Older cats just want love. Particularly if they have had horrific lives. They are undemanding pets, but lovely.” – @CynicalZebra

“My cat is 16! I love that she’s quiet and docile most of the time, so when she has her mad half hours its even more fun!” – @Artemiss_

“I foster cats, and older cats are great. Mine are 2.5 and 1.5 and I have a 1yo too. They all play and run around like kittens. PLUS at that age you know what their personality will be like, it’s really hard to predict with kittens. They’re also big enough that you don’t have to worry about squishing them in bed.” – @giraffeinascarf

“Their personality is well developed and once you’ve lived with a cat for a long time, your routines mesh together. My tabby is 11 now and our personalities are enmeshed to an almost dangerous level. He’s still very active and loves people.” – @quantumpainter

My own experience with choosing to adopt an older cat came when I was 19. I’d had older cats before when living at home but I was suddenly living with my boyfriend and his parents…dedicated dog people and I felt really lonely. It was the first time since I was 5 that I hadn’t had a cat. It was August 2000 and it wasn’t kitten season yet. The local vet told me that they had a cat I could have for free but that he was 2. I was hesitant as I really wanted a kitten, but went to have a look anyway.

They brought out a gigantic cowprint male cat. My head said I really shouldn’t…I hadn’t even asked about a kitten let alone a cat almost as big as my boyfriend’s dog.

Naturally, he ended up coming home with me. I just couldn’t bear to make them put him back in his cage. He’d already been brought back twice. I named him Orion, after the cat in Men in Black. He was a bit of a thug…ok a lot of a thug. Very, very strong and liked to hit but he was also smoochy, cuddly and perfect to just plonk on my lap and cuddle without all the pain of trying to train and constantly entertain him. I could go off to school and work without feeling guilty.

Orion in 2000, not long after I adopted him from a vet clinic.

Orion in 2007.

Orion was my best friend for the next 6.5 years. He moved with me from my boyfriend’s mum’s place in Gosnells, to my first ever rental in Midland, to a lovely unit in North Beach (with royal blue carpets…woe), to a horrible main road flat in Tuart Hill, and back to my parents in Midland. He stayed there for 18mths with me visiting him whenever I could, before I decided to risk the strata company’s wrath and brought him back to my 3rd floor flat in Calista. He lived there in secret for a while (during which time I’d attempt to walk him around the gardens on a leash at night) before we owned up but given we owned the flat most of the other owners were ok with it because he was indoors most of the time. He finally moved with us to the Belmont area in late 2005 where he became a happy garden cat.

Orion's memorial - 2011

He ate his dinner and walked out the door on the afternoon of April 4th 2007. I never saw him again. I spent my birthday scouring the neighbourhood for him and handing out fliers, calling the Cat Haven and crying my eyes out. A month later I was holidaying alone in Sydney when a neighbour told Jason that she’d found him. He buried him for me under the frangipani tree and waited until I was home to tell me.

Not quite what I need in an assistant...

Going to choose a new cat felt like cheating but I was a mess without the company. We visited the shelter in May 2007 and were chosen by Tierney to be adopted as parents. He was 18 months old and still seemed like a baby to us, but I still remember so many staff thanking me with huge smiles on our faces for choosing an ‘older’ cat.

I'm sure the store's display model didn't have ears...

He’s only 5 now and doesn’t seem all that old to me. He’s still adorable, still playful, very funny and the best thing that happened to us both, especially with coping with the grief of losing Orion, and with losing Jason’s dad about 18mths earlier.

© Kell Rowe 2011 www.blackcurrantphotography.com.au

Puss' glamour portrait - 2011

If you do choose to adopt a new family member, think about your lifestyle. Do you have small children or are you out of the house for long periods? An older cat needs your attention and love, but needs a little less guidance than a younger one. If you can’t see yourself without a kitten, an older cat can provide great company and support to a younger cat and they can play together too.

Cat Haven is located at 23 Lemnos st in Shenton Park (off Selby St).

Suggested reading:
http://dogsandcats.com.au/catlovers/?p=1224
http://dogsandcats.com.au/catlovers/?p=1317 

http://gomestic.com/pets/the-benefits-of-adopting-an-older-cat/
http://blog.ottawahumane.ca/2010/12/adopt-older-cat.html

Related post:

A life without cats is no life for me

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