Cats Protection’s National Cat Centre, near Haywards Heath is just incredible, and must be seen to be believed. This modern purpose-built feline facility acts as temporary housing for hundreds of cats; and it’s so well-organized by its exceptionally devoted, caring and sensitive team, that I’m totally blown-away every time I visit. Surrounded by the tranquil Ashdown Forest, unwanted cats arrive here from all over Britain and begin their sometimes agonizingly long wait for rehoming.
But these are the lucky ones. Ex-owners, unable now to look after their furry friends, drop them off at this dedicated Adoption Centre; where many are cruelly and conveniently just dumped on the doorstep.
Reasons for surrendering pet-ownership are many. Owners moving house or even emigrating, a new baby or divorce, and allergies are all commonplace. Sadder ones include loving-owners going into rented accommodation or care homes, or even dying.
On arrival, every poor confused cat is given a thorough health check, treated for fleas and worms (some for the first time ever), and even microchipped. They are also blood-tested for infectious viruses (feline AIDS and leukaemia), vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and if necessary will receive state-of-the-art dental treatment.
However, the upsetting news is that older cats waiting for rehoming are frequently overlooked by owners choosing a new pet. Advances in veterinary care and medicine have dramatically raised the life expectancy and quality of life for thousands of cats, and as a result, cats, like humans, are now living longer than ever before. The homeless feline senior citizen takes around twice as long to find a home than the down-and-out younger cat or kitten.
Whilst ten years ago your household moggie would have been expected to live to a respectable thirteen, today’s life expectancy is much much higher, with countless cats surviving to their late-teens and early-20s in remarkably good health.
It is such a shame because older cats have so much to offer; tending to be lap-cats with more-settled natures. Cats with problems such as diabetes or arthritis, and even black cats are also seldom chosen too. Though the charity does its very best to care for these cats, life in a cat pen is no substitute for a permanent home so I would urge people to please consider adopting an older cat, or one requiring daily medication.
If you would like to adopt an older cat, or make a donation, help, or even fancy a day-out to see the cats at Cats Protection’s National Cat Centre (there’s even a souvenir shop and café), please call the charity’s national Helpline on 08702 099 099 or visit www.cats.org.uk.