A sloppy feline and a picky pet rescue group
When is someone too old to adopt a pet?
Animal expert Cathy L. Rosenthal weighs in on a sloppy Siamese cat without front teeth and a pet rescue group rejecting senior adopters.
Dear Cathy: My cat, Crystal, is a blue point Siamese, about 6 years old. She doesn’t – and never has had – front teeth. So, she eats on her side teeth, which looks incredibly awkward. She drops food continuously, makes an incredible mess, and makes snorts and funny sounds when eating. Her breath is quite bad when she yawns. Should I take her to see a vet about this, or is it just the way she eats? She is slender, but not skinny.
– Kari, Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada
Dear Kari: What you describe is perfectly normal for a cat with no front teeth. If those teeth are missing, it can be quite a struggle for a cat to keep food in her mouth when she chews.
There is nothing to be done about her missing teeth or eating style. If she has bad breath, however, a veterinarian should check on Crystal’s oral health to make sure she doesn’t have an issue and is not in pain. If your vet feels Crystal is too thin, then they can prescribe a higher caloric diet to ensure she is getting proper nourishment from her meals.
If all is well, then, congratulations, you just have a funny, messy eater on your hands.
Dear Cathy: I read about the senior who couldn’t adopt a pet because of her age. I live in South Florida and have tried for a year to adopt an adult dog. I filled out an application and was asked for my driver’s license. My birth date is on it. Rejection quickly followed.
I am 81, walk several miles every morning, attend water aerobics daily and, due to COVID-19, have stopped traveling. I have no plans to continue traveling as I do not feel this pandemic will be under control for years to come. I manage my own financial affairs and am perfectly able to give a rescue dog a wonderful home. I live in a house with grass and trees, neighbors who walk small dogs, and friends willing to assist, should I ever need help.
The benefits of dogs for seniors
With this in mind, I can’t even get a home visit, let alone a visit inside the kennels to look at dogs. I was told by one rescue that I cannot request any breed of dog, even if available. I have wanted a schnauzer or schnauzer mix. I had one for 16 years. One of the rescue organizations I spoke with said, “You take what I give you.” I have a neighbor who has been volunteering for our local shelter for 14 years. She is now in her 70s. She was rejected from adopting any dog from there. Her dog had just died. She ultimately bought a puppy from a pet store. She’s not the only one I know of that has done this.
And talk about restrictions, the list is endless: fenced yard, hours the dog will be left alone, sleeping quarters, veterinarian nearby, etc. Everything short of a request for blood type. I can deal with all this; I just can’t make myself 30 years younger.
I’ll end by saying if you ever come across an adult, housebroken miniature schnauzer or schnauzer mix looking for a good home on the east coast of South Florida, please let me know.
– Ruth, Boca Raton, Florida
Dear Ruth: I have gotten so many letters from people who are upset that this woman was not allowed to adopt a dog because of her age, and rightly so. People should not be discriminated against and kept from adopting because of their age. I have been friends with a 99-year-old woman for 17 years. Imagine if she had been denied the companionship of a pet because she was 82 years old at the time of adoption. Last I checked, anyone at any time can die or become incapacitated.
I know animal shelters and rescue groups want to ensure an animal has a forever home. But think of all the dogs and cats who need homes and all the retired people who have time to give.
Most animal shelters and rescue groups have a clause in their adoption contracts that say an animal must be returned to them if the adopter can no longer provide a home for the pet. That’s because they consider the lifetime welfare of that pet as their responsibility. So, why don’t they just agree to take the pet back if something unforeseen happens? That’s what they would do if it were anyone else.
You sound like the perfect adopter. This nonsensical discrimination must stop.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist, and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories, and tips to email@example.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.
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