RAPS has an ideal spot for senior cats, with plenty of perching areas covered in soft warm bedding, strategically-placed chairs, ramps to prevent falls and a furnace to keep them comfortable in the cold months.
Elderly cats who arrive at RAPS’ Cat Sanctuary are luckier than those who find themselves at most cat shelters because we have the Moore House ready to welcome in the old sweeties.
Moore House is a single-wide trailer that was purchased several years ago from a local gun club. It came equipped with built-in plumbing and a small kitchen/bar area. Situated a small distance away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the Sanctuary and gussied up with freshly painted walls and shiny new floors, it first became the perfect nursery for kittens. When RAPS took over management of the Richmond Animal Shelter, kittens went there for faster adoption and the kitten trailer became the geri-catric unit, although many long-time volunteers still refer to it as the kitten trailer.
With kittens now housed off-site, the trailer now known as Moore House became the obvious choice as a haven of comfort for senior cats – there are plenty of perching areas covered in soft warm bedding, strategically-placed chairs, ramps to prevent falls and a furnace to keep them comfortable in the cold months. Even better, a large south-facing verandah was added a few years ago. Here, the old dears can lounge around in the warm sunshine, even in winter because then the verandah is protected by clear protective panels. When the panels are removed for the summer, the cats are cooled by the breeze while they watch the birds on the nearby tree. That verandah is a favourite spot for cats and humans alike.
Animal care staff assess a new arrival carefully to determine if Moore House would be the best location for them. Although cats older than about 13 or 14 are the usual candidates, more than just their age is taken into account. Some feisty, active older cats are perfectly capable of flourishing in the main cat areas but, occasionally, it may be decided that a younger cat with serious health issues or one who’s terrified of other cats, people or noisy activity will do better in the serenity of the Moore House. Occasionally, a cat who is first placed there will be transferred elsewhere if and when that seems best for their happiness and well-being. Resident cats who age at the Sanctuary are rarely transferred to Moore House from their usual location. Like people, cats don’t usually welcome a move from their familiar surroundings and their friends, even if that may sometimes be better for them.
There are usually less than 20 cats living in Moore House at any time, many of them separated from their long-term owners who could no longer keep them or care for them. Similar to the demographic in human retirement communities, most of them are female. Currently, Jack, a handsome black fellow, is the only male resident of Moore House. There are several sweet cats like Princess, Sophie, Bluebell and Minuet who can’t wait to jump on a willing lap and get some loving. But there are also a few divas who don’t tolerate too much interference from humans or their fellow retirees unless it’s on their terms. Venus and EngTeng can be petted but only until they decide they’ve had enough, Charlotte and Keiko put up with very little human contact, and Cleo just wants to be left alone.
To maintain the quiet surroundings, Moore House is not open to visitors but, if they have a special interest in older cats (adults only, please), visitors can request an introduction to the senior citizens there if a volunteer or staff member is available to accompany them.
By Marianne Moore