Miles, a 17-year-old cat at the Animal Refuge Center in Vine Grove, ignores visitors as
he rests in his pen. Miles has been living at the center his entire life. [Photo by Neal Cardin]
Some pets really know how to work it when you visit a shelter looking to adopt. They turn on the charm, make an indelible impression, and before you know it, you’re signing the adoption papers.
There’s a scruffy shelter cat named Miles, though, who doesn’t get it. When approached, he runs, and more often than not, the encounter is punctuated with a hiss or two.
Consequently, he’s spent his entire 17-year life at the Animal Rescue Center in Vine Grove, Kentucky. He buddy Phil has been there nearly that long. Phil’s more sociable than Miles, and it’s a mystery to the shelter employees why Phil hasn’t been adopted.
It’s not a bad life for these two grumpy old cats. They spend much of their time napping with the other cats in well-worn chairs with shredded arms, and the shelter employees are very attached to them.
After all these years, it’s a pretty safe bet that Phil and Miles will not be leaving the shelter. When they go to the Bridge, their remains will be buried in a nearby clearing along with the center’s two oldest cats, 19-year-olds Elf and Mommy. It’s a sweet, peaceful spot with some stone kitties and a St Francis of Assisi statue among the headstones.
During the holidays, the Animal Rescue Center is always hopeful that someone will adopt one of their senior cats out of kindness, or because they “figure nobody else will.” And once in a while someone does — they’ve adopted out cats as old as 12 or 13.
It’s especially hard during the holidays to imagine old cats spending Christmas after Christmas in an institutional environment. If you’re thinking of adopting a cat this holiday season, consider a senior cat. With the possible exception of Miles, they’ll return more love than you can possibly give them, there are no guessing games as to what kind of cat they’ll turn into — you know their purrsonality types up front — and although they may have more vet bills than a younger cat, that’s not a given: there are many seniors who require no more vet care than an annual checkup and a daily thyroid pill (if that!).
As I write this, I can’t help but think of Minxy (profiled here as a Catster Superstar in October), who was adopted out at the very ripe old age of 21 from Best Friends Animal Society after living at the sanctuary for ten years. Minxy never stopped hoping for a furrever home, and not only found one, but found a great one, with a mom who lavished her with love in the sunset of her life. Minxy peacefully left for the Bridge on December 11th, at the age of nearly 22.