COMPASSIONATE CARE PROGRAM FOR CATS
What IS COMPASSIONATE CARE?
The Compassionate Care program places special kitties — cats who are older and/or who may have medical needs — in homes with people who are able to let them live out the rest of their lives with peace and dignity.
Because Compassionate Care cats may require medication, special diets, and/or veterinary care, the adoption fees are waived for the right new home. Compassionate Care cats are eligible for a free wellness check with a local veterinarian.
WHAT TYPES OF HOMES DO THESE CATS NEED?
Compassionate Care kitties are older and/or special needs cats, which means they thrive best in homes with lower activity levels but in which they can still get plenty of human interaction. Homes with adults and older children are ideal, whereas homes with young children and other pets may be overstimulating for older cats.
All Compassionate Care cats must be indoor only. It’s also important that families have access to a veterinarian whom they trust, since these cats may have special diets, need medication, or have other issues requiring close attention and/or extra expenses, so adopters should be prepared for these needs. And most of all, these cats need love!
HOW CAN I LEARN MORE?
Please call the Jackson County Animal Shelter at (541) 774-6654 to learn more about Compassionate Care cats who are currently up for adoption.
JOY’S & MATTEY’S STORIES
When FOTAS volunteer Lisa Force first saw “unknown name red tabby” in the back room of the Jackson County Animal Shelter, she knew this frail, fifteen-year-old female was a special cat. For two weeks, the shelter staff had been trying to get this cat healthy enough for adoption, but because she wasn’t thriving, eventually the decision was made to put her to sleep.
Yet Lisa knew that “a ferocious will to live burned in her big green eyes,” and she learned that before coming to the shelter the cat been forced to live outside, despite her frail condition. “I asked staff if I could bring her home for hospice care,” Lisa says, “so this old girl who’d had such a long and difficult journey could have a few weeks or months of comfort, warmth, premium food, and love before passing with dignity, hopefully in my arms. They said yes, and my husband did, too. We named her Joy, and the journey began.”
Lisa and Joy’s journey soon became the Compassionate Care program, a new FOTAS initiative to place older and/or medically challenged cats who are at the end of their lives into carefully selected, caring homes so that they can live out the rest of their lives in peace. Shortly after Lisa brought Joy home, she began to think about other older cats who come into the shelter and how they could have similar happy outcomes. “If others were also willing to provide hospice care for the old, medical care for the sick, patience for the frightened, and temporary isolation for the contagious,” Lisa says, “we could save these special animals.”
Fifteen-year-old Mattey became the Compassionate Care program’s next special cat. Mattey had already been in adoption for nearly three months, often overlooked because of her age, tiny size, and frail appearance (she’d been shaved due to her matted fur). Yet Mattey was a staff and volunteer favorite, thanks to her sweet personality and loving nature, and once the new program was born, her status was changed from regular adoption to Compassionate Care. The difference between the two is simple but important: Because Compassionate Care cats are older and often have special needs (such as medication and/or a specific diet), the adoption fee is waived and adopters are counseled and screened to be sure they can provide whatever special care the cats require.
“A quiet, attentive home with frequently available laps” is best for older cats, says Lisa. “They sleep a lot and prefer frequent small meals.” Lisa knew that Joy needed a special diet of wet food because Joy has no molars—she also discovered that Joy is deaf. “When she finds herself alone, she howls. She can’t hear you call, so you have to run and pick her up.”
Ideal Compassionate Care homes are with adopters who can offer this sort of patience and flexibility, as well the time and resources to take cats to the vet as necessary. And while these older cats do require extra care and attention, the rewards are great. “Old cats rock!” Lisa says. “No one is climbing curtains, picking fights, wanting out, scratching furniture, needing litter-training, spraying territory, or getting on kitchen counters.”
Joy has lived up to her name. When Lisa first brought her home, “she weighed no more than four pounds, her coat was shabby, and her back legs weren’t working.” For the first two weeks, Joy slept and ate almost constantly. “She just wanted to be held, and she used every bit of her strength to head-rub us,” Lisa says.
A visit to the vet and blood work showed that Joy was completely healthy, and within a month of being in Lisa’s home, she gained two pounds. Now, Lisa says, “her eyes are bright, her coat is shiny, and she has regained enough strength in her legs to chase our much younger and bigger cats—and catch them. She gently pushes in and has taken their toys, their food and their beds—and they let her.”
Mattey, too, is thriving in her new home. Janice Burr, who adopted Mattey, says that when she brought Mattey home, the tiny cat “hopped right out of the box and helped herself to canned and dry food with no hesitation.” Like Lisa, Janice soon discovered that Mattey is deaf. While this made Mattey’s adjustment to Janice’s other cat, Louis, take longer than she’d hoped, after nearly three weeks, the cats were tolerating each other. “I love having her,” Janice says. “The people adopting these animals are well rewarded with love, company, and a sense of improving our world. I am so appreciative that the shelter took Mattey in and gave her special care until I was able to adopt her.”