You would never guess that Merlot was a 16-year-old senior, especially when you see him playing with string and laser toys. And especially when you know a little about his history.
Merlot was brought to the BC SPCA animal centre in Nanaimo by a Good Samaritan who witnessed him being thrown from a moving vehicle. “Merlot was examined by a veterinarian and thankfully he did not sustain any injuries from this horrible act,” says Bonnie Pequin, manager BC SPCA animal centre Nanaimo and District. “He did however, have dental disease and crusts and scabs along his back and head. A senior bloodwork panel was done and it showed that Merlot had allergies so he was put on a hypoallergenic diet and he was also administered flea control.”
After Merlot healed, he was available for adoption. “Although they make amazing pets, senior dogs and cats are often overlooked by people looking to adopt a furry family member,” says Kim Monteith, BC SPCA’s manager of animal welfare. “There are a lot of misconceptions about senior animals that make people a little hesitant to bring them home.”
But that wasn’t the case for Merlot. “Five years ago, I was helping a friend adopt a cat,” says Lana. “When we were on the BC SPCA site I noticed quite a few older cats were available for adoption and when we visited the animal centre, we had a conversation with one of the staff about senior animals and how difficult it can be to find them forever homes.”
Since that day, Lana has turned her home into a kitty retirement home. “My first senior cats were a bonded pair named Luke and Merlin who were 14-years-old,” says Lana. “I adopted them from the Victoria BC SPCA. Luke had stage two kidney disease when I adopted him. Over the next three years it progressed and he passed away in August,” says Lana. “Merlin missed Luke, so I wanted to get him a companion, so I went back to the BC SPCA’s website and I found Merlot.”
Lana travelled from North Vancouver to Nanaimo to adopt Merlot. “I knew he was ‘the one’,” says Lana. “When I went to meet him, he immediately got off of his cat bed in the catio to get a pet and when he gave me a head butt, it sealed the deal.”
One of the stereotypes that Lana loves to break is that senior cats will just sleep away their last years with you. Nothing could be further from the truth. “Merlin and Merlot both have a little kitten energy in them. Merlin still gets up and rips around the house at three am,” says Lana. “They both like to play with string and laser toys and they love to cuddle. Luke was chasing toys up until his last two weeks.”
Although Lana knows there are typically some health issues with older cats, the rewards are worth it. “I will always adopt senior cats. As I get older, it is nice to share my home with some animals that are older too. They have so much to offer, and they are so grateful. It is a real honour to share their last years with them.”