Monday, 13 February 2012


There are a couple of issues I've been pondering on recently with regard to cats. While seemingly different, they are related as you'll see.

1. Is it ever right to put to sleep a healthy cat? 

Now the obvious answer to that is a resounding NO! But sometimes it isn't always that simple. A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a lady who, for very reasons (which I forget, sorry) needed to re-home her two 16-year old cats. 

Apart from the fact that that we were full anyway, it is extremely difficult to re-home older cats and sixteen is quite old for a cat anyway. Unless a friend or neighbour is willing. it's almost impossible. They are coming to the end of their lives and the likelihood of incurring vets bills is quite high. I told her this and also what would happen to them if a local rescue did take them in. The odds were that they'd be stuck in a small cage together for the rest of their short lives, surrounded by other strange cats in cages. 

I suggested that the kindest thing to do in this case would be to put them to sleep. They'd had good comfortable lives and had been loved. If that couldn't continue then it should end. I thought that discussing it with a vet would also help.

I haven't heard anything since. So, did I say the right thing or not?

2. Should a kitten be homed with an elderly person?

I'll define elderly as being in their late 70's or older.

And I'm not going to answer the question directly either. Instead I'll go off on a tangent and tell you what our personal plans are.

We have nine cats and we'll both be 64 this year. The cats are aged from just under 2 to 15 (the eldest being Lotus our newest cat). Despite our family backgrounds suggesting that we could be lucky enough to live to a healthy old age, nothing in this world is certain. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. So we aren't ever going to have another kitten. Neither are we going to replace any of the nine cats as they die off until maybe we just have three or four left. Then we'll begin to take in cats which we're fairly sure either won't outlast us or not by much if they do. I'm thinking of cats aged 14 or over. 

Something that worries us greatly is that we die leaving young healthy cats to an uncertain fate. This is one, not uncommon reason, for cats coming into our care and it's a very sad one and something which we'd rather avoid.

I mentioned Lotus earlier. Her story is a sad one. She was owned by an elderly mother with the onset of dementia and her son, not yet 50, who was dying of cancer. She had to go into care, he booked the cat into Westhall kennels, then put himself into a hospice. They'd been friends of Susan's family but Susan only found about these matters months later. We went to visit Lotus and found her to be withdrawn and in poor physical condition. She was never likely to be re-homed and it would have been kinder to put her to sleep. But luckily for her, we took her home and she now enjoys a good quality of life. But Lotus is the lucky exception.
Lotus at Westhall Kennels

And in our garden a couple of months later.

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