Birds and fish and dogs – oh my
Yolanda was no stranger to pets. Still, she could not have imagined that an adopted senior cat would play such a crucial role in keeping her loneliness at bay.
The Air Force veteran grew up with an unusual variety of animals in her family home. All played an important part in her early life, mostly by providing much-needed companionship.
“Throughout my adolescence and early adulthood, I had parakeets, fish and dogs,” she explains.
So it was no surprise when many years later the Air Force veteran would turn to companion pet adoption when she found herself in a dark and lonely place.
“I had never shared my life with a cat until April 2006,” she says. “For several months before [adopting] I was struggling with anxiety with relationships and jobs.”
Yolanda believed that a pet could help her overcome the anxiety and loneliness that was starting to overtake her days. And she believed that an answer to her struggles could be found at her local animal shelter.
“I volunteered at a cat shelter out of curiosity several months before I decided to adopt,” she recalls. “I realized how calm I was when I visited the cats.”
Something special about senior cats
In time Yolanda did adopt a pet. Her first was a senior cat named Goldilocks. The mature feline left a strong impression.
“I felt, and still feel, shelters need to encourage more people to adopt older cats before adopting kittens,” she says. “After my beloved Goldilocks died, I vowed to adopt more senior cats in her name.”
Yolanda’s volunteer work and positive experiences adopting older cats became a defining aspect to her post-military life. Loneliness after serving is relatively common and often associated with depression.
The Air Force veteran has adopted three other senior cats since Goldilock’s passing. And now Lollie is the newest old cat to join her household since that day in 2006 when Yolanda first turned to felines to ease her loneliness.
“…the oldest cat available…”
People who adopt senior pets do so knowing that they will not have as many years with them as they would with a younger animal. But they adopt in spite of this fact because they believe that every life has value.
By September 2018 Yolanda was ready to adopt another cat. Older felines had become a healthy and life-affirming way to keep her loneliness at bay. She was approved by Pets for Patriots early in the month and started her search the way most would-be adopters do: online.
The Air Force veteran gravitated naturally to the older animals.
Adopting another senior cat would give Yolanda with the special brand of companionship she loved, as well as keep Goldilocks’ memory alive.
“As I looked at the various shelters’ websites for my next companion,” she says, “I made a mental list of cats over a particular age.”
At that particular time the shelter did not have many older cats available for adoption. But that did not deter Yolanda.
“To my surprise and delight, two of the three [senior cats] had been adopted within two weeks,” she says. “That left Lollie, who was the oldest at nine years old.”
That morning the Air Force veteran checked online once more before heading to the shelter. She wanted to make sure that Lollie was still available before she made the trip.
“Although I was intending to adopt her that day,” she explains, “my feelings would not have been hurt if someone else claimed her before me. I would have adopted the oldest cat available that day.”
Adopted senior cat is veteran’s “best buddy”
Yolanda takes a philosophical approach to pet adoption. She is happy when any senior pet finds a home, and tries not to set her heart on any particular pet lest he or she get adopted by someone else first.
“I am encouraged when I know more people are willing to add a senior pet to their families,” she says.
And as luck would have it, Lollie was still available. Yolanda remembers how she “instantly adored” the then nine year-old cat’s personality.
The Air Force veteran completed an adoption application and interview at the shelter, which included play time with Lollie. The entire process was both delightful and relatively brief.
“I could not have been more pleased with the efficiency and professionalism at the Anti-Cruelty Society,” she says.
From feral to best friend
Dogs and cats enter shelters every day through no faults of their own. Some are surrendered when their guardians can no longer care for them due to changes in their life circumstances.
And still other animals are the victims of neglect, abuse, abandonment, and cruelty. While little is known about where Lollie spent her previous nine years, she had been found as a feral cat.
Yolanda knew it would take extra time and effort for the adopted senior cat to feel comfortable in her new home.
The transition was not easy at first. On her first day, Lollie hid in Yolanda’s closet, which the Air Force veteran expected.
“Because she was a one-time feral,” she says, “I was prepared for her to hide for a longer period of time until she was comfortable. I was delighted when on the second day she sat beside me on my bed as I watched television.”
The bond between person and pet has only grown stronger since their adoption.
“She has been next to me, being my shadow, ever since.”
Lollie is not only an adopted senior cat, but one who spent much of her life on the streets. It is nothing short of a small miracle that she bonded so quickly with Yolanda since feral cats are notoriously wary of people.
But perhaps the once feral feline knew that she hit the adoption jackpot. Lollie found a person who saw meaning in her life. And for her part, Lollie helps keep Yolanda’s loneliness at bay.
“She’s my best little buddy,” she says. “She is so joyful and a great companion.”