Elderly, Frail, and on Death Row, Lovely Pops Desperately Needs a New Home Before Time Finally Runs Out on Her
"If only cats could talk I feel Pops probably has a very sad story to tell. It would be lovely to give her the happy ending she deserves."
-- Belinda Dark of Cats Protection
The complexities and difficulties that accompany the sacred gift of life are, at times, so overwhelming as to almost negate the value of the bequest itself and that is especially the case when it comes to coping with the frailties and insecurities that bedevil the twilight years. Elderly men and women at least have their families, pensions, and health care plans in order to help them navigate through their last days but very old cats seldom have any of those advantages.
Abandoned to their own devices, penniless, and with their health rapidly on the decline, they are totally dependent upon the kindness of strangers for their continued existence. Revoltingly, the only consideration that the overwhelming majority of them ever receive from the hoi polloi is benign neglect and just about all shelters and veterinarians kill them on sight.
Nevertheless, in spite of the odds being stacked so heavily against them a few of these senior felines not only manage to persevere but to find a measure of both meaning and happiness in their final years. "For every age is fed on illusions, lest men should renounce life and the human race come to an end," Joe Conrad observed in his 1915 novel, Victory, and perhaps cats also have unfathomable illusions of their own that keep them going and thus prevent them from throwing in the towel early.
In the final analysis, it really does not make any difference what it is that motivates them to cling so tenaciously to life as long as their inalienable right to it is respected. That pretty much defines the precarious predicament that a lovely nineteen-year-old tortoiseshell erroneously dubbed Pops now finds herself in as her fragile life hangs in the balance at Cats Protection's Midsomer Norton and Radstock shelter near Bath in Somerset.
She was found dazed and stumbling alongside a road, presumably somewhere near Bath, back in May by a Good Samaritan who, mistakenly believing her to be ill, rushed her to a veterinarian. Thankfully, that was not the case but the ravages of old age have left her almost completely blind in both eyes, unsteady on her feet, and with fur that easily becomes matted.
|Pops Is Able to Feed Herself and to Use a Litter Box|
Every bit as heartbreaking and disgusting at the same time, the supposedly cat-loving English public does not want any part of her and for that reason she has been cruelly left to languish at Cats Protection's penitentiary for nearly three months. Her profile has been viewed more than five-hundred times on the charity's Facebook page and an undisclosed number of times on Animal Search UK but all those gawkers apparently have hearts that are even colder than those alleged to belong to whores.
The holdup seems to be that the light has all but gone out of her eyes and that in turn gives her a disquieting countenance. "I think because of her sight and health problems she isn't everyone's first choice," Belinda Dark of Cats Protection told the Western Daily Press of Bristol on July 14th. (See "United Kingdom's Oldest Rescue Cat Pops, Nineteen, Can't Find Home Due to Terrifying Eyes.") "Her appearance isn't as favorable as some of the younger kittens. I think people are put off (by her) eyes or how frail she is."
For so many fans of the species to turn up their dirty noses at an elderly feline in extremis does not reflect favorably upon the cat-owning fraternity. Aside from their appalling lack of compassion, such callous behavior additionally reveals their abysmal lack of intelligence. That is because an elderly cat is every bit as valuable and has just as much to give as a young one.
"She was very confused when she came to us," Dark added to the Western Daily Press. "Her sight is very poor and she is a weak old cat but she loves being close to you and being petted. She's incredibly friendly and doing well for her age."
Although in all likelihood Pops is not going to be around very much longer, every moment spent with her would be something to be treasured and that alone would more than compensate for both her adoption fee and the minimal cost of caring for her. Plus, once again having a loving home would mean so much to her.
|Pops Is Still Capable of Getting Around on Her Own|
"If only cats could talk I feel Pops probably has a very sad story to tell," Dark speculated to the Western Daily Press. "It would be lovely to give her the happy ending she deserves."
In that light, absolutely nothing about Pops' past life has come to light so far and it accordingly is not known how that she ultimately wound up on the street. For her part, Dark is of the opinion that she previously was owned by an elderly individual who either died or became incapacitated in some fashion and therefore could no longer care for her.
The fact that no one so far has come forward in order to reclaim her tends to lend a certain amount of credence to that supposition. It also is conceivable that she was deliberately abandoned.
Another possible explanation is that the surviving members of her deceased owner's family were unwilling to take care of her. That, no matter how callous and appalling, is an all-too-common occurrence on the part of both individuals and institutions alike. (See Cat Defender post of June 9, 2008 entitled "Pennsylvania College Greedily Snatches Up Alumnus' Multimillion-Dollar Bequest but Turns Away His Cat, Princess.")
For example, a Ragdoll-Siamese-mix of undetermined age named Isabelle was left all alone in an unoccupied house in Stockbridge, thirty-five kilometers south of Atlanta, for an astounding two years after her unidentified guardian died. The shameless relatives gladly took in the dogs that had been left behind but they wanted no part of Isabelle.
They did stop by on a regular basis in order to feed and water her but even that heartless and cruel arrangement came to an abrupt end earlier this spring when they elected to cash in once again by selling the house right out from underneath her. (See The Examiner, June 3, 2015, "Heartbreaking Story of a Cat Living Alone in Deceased Owner's Home for Two Years.")
The future looked rather bleak for Isabelle until she was taken in by Furkids of Atlanta which claims to have placed her in a new home during the first week of July. Inexplicably, no mention of either her or her new guardian could be found on either the organization's web site or its Facebook page.
As far as it could be determined, none of the relatives ever was charged with either abandonment or animal cruelty. There cannot be any denying, however, that the past two years must have been an exceedingly difficult and harrowing time for Isabelle.
At least she survived both home arrest and solitary confinement and that is considerably more than can be said for a nine-year-old white Persian named Tavia who was left all alone for two months in an unheated house in Kissimmee, Florida, during the fall of 2010 by a holy roller who bills herself as Prophetess Royal Poinciana Sprewell. Although Tavia was periodically supplied with food and water, she nevertheless was found dead on December 6th and a necropsy later revealed that she had died of hepatitis and kidney failure.
Even though Sprewell makes a mint at the expense of those in search of an eternal home upon high, she inexplicably had fallen behind on both her rent and the electrical bill and for that reason she elected to skip out on Tavia. She she did retain the keys to the house, however, and thus was able to continue feeding her. Even more outrageously, although Osceola County Animal Control (OCAS), the Kissimmee Police, the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, neighbor Santiago Sandoval, and likely the landlord as well were fully cognizant of Tavia's rapidly deteriorating health, all of them categorically refused to come to her aid and instead stood idly by like rubberneckers at a train wreck and watched her die by degrees a slow and agonizing death.
Afterwards, Sprewell had the audacity to claim that Tavia had died of loneliness and Lee Radevaugh of OCAC, desperate for any excuse to absolve his agency's malfeasance, opportunistically concurred with her. As a consequence she, like Isabelle's caretakers, never was charged with animal cruelty.
Instead of taking responsibility for her own dereliction of duty, Sprewell placed the blame squarely upon the shoulders of unnamed others who had refused to give her money. "To be honest with you, I feel it's the responsibility of a lot of individuals who didn't help us," she replied defiantly and without so much as a scintilla of remorse. (See Cat Defender post of December 23, 2010 entitled "Tavia's Desperate Pleas for Help Fall Upon the Deaf Ears of the Evangelical Who Abandoned Her and the Heartless Officials and Citizens of Kissimmee.")
Although feline homelessness is well documented, it might surprise some to learn that nearly ten per cent of the cats currently incarcerated at the thirty-one shelters operated by Cats Protection throughout the United Kingdom are at least eleven years old. Even more troubling, it takes the charity five times longer on the average to find homes for them than it does for kittens to be adopted.
During kitten season, which runs from April to September, that differential grows to six and one-half times. "During the spring-summer months we see a dramatic rise in kittens being adopted instead of older cats (and) it can be horribly sad to see them left behind," Dark confessed to the Western Daily Press. "I think often older cats get a little overlooked, much like secondhand items, but ultimately there is just as much joy in rehoming an older cat as there is a kitten."
The wholesale neglect and abuse visited upon elderly cats is perhaps nowhere more vividly demonstrated than in Dark's offhand admission that before the arrival of Pops she never had taken in a cat that was older than fourteen. That would tend to imply that other than those that die natural deaths, the remainder are either whacked by unscrupulous veterinarians at the behest of their equally culpable owners or are unconscionably abandoned, like Pops, to fend for themselves in an extremely hostile world.
There certainly is not any shortage of extremely old and footloose cats. For instance, in May of last year a twenty-year-old brown and white male was found by another Good Samaritan in Prescott, thirteen kilometers east of Liverpool, in Merseyside.
Dubbed the Hobo Cat, he was taken to the RSPCA where an implanted microchip revealed not only his age but that he had been adopted from Cats Protection way back in 1994. He also had apparently resided for an unspecified period of time in St. Helens, six kilometers removed from Prescott, and also in Merseyside.
"Unfortunately he is a bit poorly at the moment so he is being treated in one of our clinics but his issues all relate to old age," Derek Hampson of the RSPCA acknowledged to The St. Helens Reporter on May 16, 2014. (See "The Oldest Hobo? Cat Aged Twenty Living as Stray.") "He is such an old chap we would love to be able to reunite him with his owner and to get him home where he belongs."
|Harry and Nicola Zelent of Lothian Cat Rescue|
Regrettably, it has not been possible to determine what eventually became of him. His only obvious hope of salvation rested in his previous owner coming forward and reclaiming him in that it would be out of character for the RSPCA to be willing to foot the bill for his extended care.
Many of the same fears pertain to Pops in that if she is not adopted soon Cats Protection will eventually decide to snuff out her life also. The organization will never admit to committing such an atrocity but instead it will dredge up some nonexistent malady in order to justify getting rid of her.
It also is a bit disconcerting that the charity would commit the glaring faux pas of mistaking Pops to be a male when 99.96 per cent of all tortoiseshells are females. That equates to only one out of every four-hundred-thousand of them being males.
Despite their rarity, about two male tortoiseshells are born in England each year. For instance, a twelve-week-old kitten named Harry was unwittingly surrendered to Lothian Cat Rescue in Bonnyrigg, thirteen kilometers southeast of Edinburgh, on November 14th of last year because his owners were allergic to his fur.
Even the veterinarian who first examined him committed the same mistake as Cats Protection did with Pops. "When I heard the cat was called Harry, I said to the owners (sic), 'I think that might have to be Harriet'," Margaret Riddell of ICR Veterinary Surgery in Gorebridge, three kilometers to the south of Bonnyrigg, told the Edinburgh Evening News on November 19, 2014. (See "One of the World's Rarest Cats Given to Rescue Center.") "I had to change my words when I discovered it was male. I've never seen one before and I've been a vet for more than thirty years."
|Pops Is Still Waiting for Her Knight on a White Horse|
That is a rather unflattering revelation for her to make in that the practice of veterinary medicine should be based upon knowledge, observation, and diagnostic testing as opposed to prejudice, false assumptions, and guess work. It also is an additional piece of evidence in support of the proposition that the only thing that some practitioners care about when it comes to treating cats is how much money that they can get out of their owners.
As far as Pops is concerned, the first order of business is to put pressure on Cats Protection in order to dissuade it from taking the easy and cheap way out by killing her. Secondly, a home must be found for her and as soon as possible.
Thirdly, she needs a proper name. In furtherance of that worthy objective, Grandmother, Dowager, Survivor, and even Lady Hope would do just fine.
Anyone either willing to provide Pops with a loving home or to urge Cats Protection to spare her life is strongly encouraged to do so by contacting the organization's Midsomer Norton and Radstock branch at 44-01761 410594.
Photos: Western Daily Press (Pops), The Examiner (Isabelle), Santiago Sandoval (Tavia), St. Helens Reporter (Hobo Cat), and Gordon Fraser of the Edinburgh Evening News (Harry and Zelent).