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The shelters tell their story | Growing old and dying in a shelter

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Animal shelters see hundreds of cases in transit year round, and some of these hosts have tagged them. We bring you some touching stories from their staff.

Some old tomcats manage to find their families for life, while others will have waited in vain until the end. To the point of sometimes becoming real mascots, like the duo of Darcy and Tattie, long-time residents of the Rescue Animal Network (RSA) refuge and who died there at the respective ages of 21 and 29. The organization told us the story of these iconic elder cats.

Within the RSA, which has some 200 volunteers, everyone knew them. “When they have been there for a long time, they have a special status, they are the darlings of volunteers,” says Lise Côté, head of the organization’s medical team.

 

For them, adoption was no longer really an option. Darcy was taken in in 2001, at the age of 2. He will have spent 19 years at the shelter, where he gave his last meow in August 2020. “He was adopted twice, but he came back because he never wanted to use a litter box in his kitty life. At the refuge, we pick up behind him, but in a house, we get exhausted, ”she explains. To make matters worse, he had IVF (“cat’s AIDS”), suffered a stroke, before developing diabetes, chronic pancreatitis, and cancer. “He was senile and not ‘all there’. He was often found sitting in the hallway, as if wondering what he was doing there ”, remembers Mr.me Side. Send him to the campaign to solve this litter problem? “It would have been to sign his death warrant, he had lost sensitivity,” she says.

PHOTO KATHERINE DUMAS, PROVIDED BY THE ANIMAL RESCUE NETWORK

Darcy, who arrived at RSA in 2001, had problems with cleanliness, before developing several pathologies. He ended his life under the roof of the shelter, which looked after and pampered him for 19 years.

The white and red tomcat, which had its own quarters at the refuge, could count on around forty godparents and the care of a dedicated team of volunteers. When his condition seriously deteriorated, condemning him to euthanasia, the farewell visits followed one another throughout the day.

A 29e “Channiversary”

Darcy went to cat paradise to join Tattie, another RSA dean who had passed away a few months earlier. His age ? Exceptional: 29 years old. By looking for the equivalent in human age, we found that all the tables stopped at 21!

According to the calculation formula of a veterinary clinic, Tattie had reached an age corresponding to 190 years.

The irony of the story is that she was left at the shelter when she was 14, her former owner having made the then headmistress promise not to pass her up, because her days were over. accounts. Bad calculation: this promise was finally honored… for 15 long years! During which it ended up occupying a special place in the hearts of volunteers. “The refuge had become her home, she walked the corridors like a queen. Because of the arthritis she had difficulty going up the stairs to look out, she would lead us to the small staircase and meowing for help, ”recalls Lise Côté.

The tricolor cat had become a real glue of unity, her birthdays being celebrated in recent years at a party bringing together the volunteers.

  • Tattie's birthday ended up being an event and an occasion to bring together the volunteers at the shelter.

    PHOTO FROM THE ANIMAL RESCUE NETWORK FACEBOOK PAGE

    Tattie’s birthday ended up being an event and an occasion to bring together the volunteers at the shelter.

  • Tattie's birthday parties were starting to get expensive in candlelight: she turned 29 in 2020, the equivalent of 190 years in human age, according to a veterinary clinic's formula for calculating. At 20 years old, a cat is considered to be a hundred years old.

    PHOTO FROM THE ANIMAL RESCUE NETWORK FACEBOOK PAGE

    Tattie’s birthday parties were starting to get expensive in candlelight: she turned 29 in 2020, the equivalent of 190 years in human age, according to a veterinary clinic’s formula for calculating. At 20 years old, a cat is considered to be a hundred years old.

  • The volunteers put a lot of heart into celebrating the cat-muse's birthday.

    PHOTO FROM THE ANIMAL RESCUE NETWORK FACEBOOK PAGE

    The volunteers put a lot of heart into celebrating the cat-muse’s birthday.

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Having developed kidney failure, she finally experienced her last spring in 2020. “It’s been a tough year for us. But there is no question of letting them die ”, launches the head of the medical team.

Improvements and compassion

While cats ending their old age in shelters were once commonplace, the situation has improved greatly in recent years, says Mr.me Side. When an older cat is sociable, it rarely stays more than three or four months at RSA, where a room is reserved for old cats arriving regularly. Often their masters are aging themselves and can no longer keep them.

“Right now, we have the chance to succeed in getting it adopted, people want it. For example, a recent adopter chose an older cat because he already had an old cat in his house and didn’t want to impose a restless young cat on him. Others find it terrible that an old cat is not chosen and will adopt out of compassion. Yes, the time spent with them will be shorter, but it’s very rewarding to give a house to an older animal, ”underlines Lise Côté, recalling the case of Fleurette, adopted at the age of 21 after a life whole spent at the refuge; or that of Juliette, 11, whose story moved about fifteen prospective adoptive parents: her dying mistress was very concerned about what would happen to her animal. “It was heartbreaking, this lady’s daughter was hyperallergic and couldn’t keep her. Right before she died, she wanted to know if Juliet was OK. Her last thought was for her cat. “

Does the way we treat our aging animals say anything about our relationship with the elderly? ” Probably. As much as there are people who are very devoted to their aging cat, so many others do not want it anymore because it becomes a mess. Some will regroup around their aging parents, while others will emerge, ”concludes Mme Side.

120: number of cats hosted by the RSA

10%: proportion of cats over 10 years old

Source: Animal Rescue Network

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