By Melissa Lapierre
Anyone who works or volunteers in an animal shelter will tell you that kittens are always first to be adopted. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re practically irresistible and have the ability to melt the toughest heart. In my area of the country there’s even a waiting list at times for kittens!
It’s no wonder once a cat approaches a year old and beyond they start to get overlooked in favor of smaller munchkins. They are then left waiting for someone who prefers their new pet to be a bit more settled and beyond those crazy (yet adorable) kitten antics.
Finding a home to live out the rest of their days is even harder once a cat reaches their senior years. Many of these precious souls were once a cherished pet and have suffered the heartbreaking loss of their human companion due to illness or death.
Most people don’t want to adopt a senior kitty, concerned about costly medical bills and the heartbreak of loss that will come sooner rather than later. These cats still have so much love to give, yet shelters struggle to find forever homes for them.
PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society) in Norwalk, Connecticut, has found a solution thanks to their Paws Pension Plan for senior cats (and dogs).
Through this program the adoption donation is waived for all cats aged 12 and older (dogs to be determined by breed and size). PAWS will also cover one annual exam, annual vaccinations as recommended by their vet, and one senior blood-work panel every year for the life of the animal! The plan covers all the basics, but adopters are responsible for anything else such as special diets, x-rays, or other medical issues.
Ellen, the Cat Adoption Coordinator at PAWS, told me that the Paws Pension Plan is actually a very inexpensive program to run. It saves them money over having the cats residing long term at the shelter.
For example, rabies & distemper vaccines bought by the case cost less than $10 each. Their onsite vet does the exam based on her hourly pay costing approximately $20. Idexx lab provides blood work analysis for free since PAWS sends them paid business for fecal, blood and urine tests. So for $40 they get a cat into a home, not having to buy their food, pay people to clean their cage, or provide any other medical care.
Waiving the adoption fee is a no brainer compared to a year of paying for food and care!
Thanks to this plan PAWS is now finding it easier to adopt out senior kitties over the slightly younger “Baby Boomers” aged 6-11. They are currently applying for several grants that would allow them to offer a similar plan for this age group as they are now the hardest to place.
At PAWS anyone can make a difference in the life of a senior pet. This is a plan any shelter can implement provided they have a vet onsite or can find one willing to donate one or more free exams per year for senior cats.
All the photos you see in this article are just a handful of “happy tails” stories thanks to the Pension Plan. Since becoming official in the fall of 2016 over 35 cats have found new homes!