Thursday, December 08, 2022

Seniors are better

| November 3, 2022 1:00 AM

First, apologies for the inflammatory headline. In no way is it meant to demean readers under a certain age. In human life, every age has its joys and benefits.

I am writing about hairy seniors. Make that furry ones.

Truth-in-journalism: Our cat just turned 18. May the ghost of every pet gone before forgive me, but the whole family agrees: She is the best we’ve ever had.

Why is hard to describe. She can be cranky now that she’s what the vet calls a “super senior.” She’s mean to our other, very sweet cat. She has a thyroid problem, so the cat box has become quite unpleasant to clean more frequently. She is “good” only because she chooses to be, which isn’t always. (Well, she is a cat. This is not unusual.)

She’s also the Lassie of cats when it comes to intelligence. Karma is the smartest feline I’ve known. When she wants something, she’ll stalk and meow, corral us, lead us to the bowl, box or toy under the dresser. She is ingenious at figuring out how to get into something, and has been known to push an item back to evade discovery.

I swear she understands English. She anticipates trips before we pack (so she can punish in advance or block suitcase retrieval) and acts adorable before and after she’s done something we don’t like.

Being a regal sort of cat, she then assumes a posture of pride or apathy rather than shame.

But at her age, she’s also patient. She quietly makes her statement, such as “my water bowl is low” and then like the mature being she is, she waits calmly (or calmly corrals me again). She wastes no time or energy with angst or disappointment.

When I’m sick, she curls up next to me all day, a companion nurse. She has a toy “Beebee” (stolen from our young daughter years ago) she brings to us when she feels like company. Sometimes when we’re gone, she puts it in the middle of the bed to let us know she is quite dissatisfied at the lack of attention.

Then she waits. Calmly.

We take time to stroke her soft fur, and all is again right with the world.

Karma’s senior status makes her easier to care for. Yes, bigger vet bills sometimes, but surprisingly few given her very advanced age. She’s happy just hanging out inside now or being next to us. During a summer move she was shockingly calm in the car. She doesn’t demand often and she has a very relaxed vibe. She sleeps a lot, so she doesn’t require our energy.

Yes, our hearts will break when she goes. But if that’s today, it’s worth every minute we’ve had with her.

Puppies and kittens are fun, but like children, require a lot of time, training and energy. Senior pets can be absolutely wonderful and adaptive, and there are sadly too many feeling lonely in shelters where the youngsters get most of the attention. What would you want in your senior years?

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month. If you have room in your heart and home for a senior pet, and a little patience while they adjust to a new life, call your local humane society at 208-772-4019 in Hayden, 208-245-7387 in St. Maries, 208-786-1911 in Kellogg or 208-265-7297 in Ponderay.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of the soul remains unawakened.” — Anatole France

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Sholeh Patrick is a cat-loving columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Email

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