18 yr old Pennys story
19 February 2017
When Penny came to us we thought this pretty little lady would be no trouble at all. And so she was; friendly, affectionate, and playful in a quiet way - a delight to look after. What really surprised us was her age. Amazingly enough, this sweet little black cat was all of eighteen and a half years old. Not surprisingly, in Cats Protection terms that made Penny officially 'Elderly', which meant that the standard health check was replaced by the more detailed Senior version, including blood tests for liver and kidney functions and so on. Here's where we had a bit of a worry. Quite apart from being car sick - and worse - on the way to and from the vets, records showed that Penny had lost half a kilo in weight in the last year. Her liver function test showed a bit of an anomaly too. Was she ill? Thankfully, an ultrasound scan of her liver seemed to confirm she was in good health and ready to go to a new home.
With care and attention Penny quickly regained that lost half kilo plus a bit more, adapting wonderfully well to her new life, and staying gently affectionate through everything including the indignity of those traumatic trips to the vets. But then, just as we were giving some thought to how best to find a new home for such an elderly cat, came the bad news. One final blood test had shown a serious deterioration in one of her liver enzymes. Despite looking and acting like a healthy and much younger cat, Penny was apparently living on borrowed time. A few weeks, maybe a couple of months or so was all she had.
Normally, Cats Protection cats are looked after in outdoor pens. They're warm and comfortable of course, but somehow after eighteen years with a family who had hated having to give her up, we just couldn't see Penny ending her long life anywhere but in a loving family home. But how to find someone willing to take on a cat with such a short life expectancy? Thankfully, one of the other CP volunteers came up with a suggestion - how about a special appeal on our facebook page? Quickly we wrote the story, had our words approved by our Branch Coordinator and posted on facebook. Then we waited, frankly not expecting all that much except maybe sympathy. But no. There were, we found, numbers of lovely people out there willing to take on what was surely going to be a rewarding but ultimately upsetting task.
One family with recent experience of caring for an elderly cat were particularly keen on coming to see Penny. In turn they each stroked her while she sat and purred, and to everybody's delight it was a 'yes'. In less than a day we'd found Penny a new home! Paperwork done, and with a warning that things might well get messy in the car, off they set. Later they emailed us that yes, things had been messy! But nobody seemed to mind too much. Especially Penny who by then was sleeping contentedly on a chair by a radiator. Let's hope she outlives the vet's estimate. By a long way. As her fosterers we will keep in touch with the family and give help and support if needed, we look forward to maybe also visiting Penny one day as she was a very special little cat to us.
Nick & Carol