They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but for many who first glimpsed Pops the cat, the view was “terrifying.” With cloudy peepers that look a little like marbles depicting a distant galaxy, Pops’ unique appearance initially repelled many potential adopters seeking a younger kitty with a more conventionally “cute” look.
But Pops’ eyes also had a sad story to tell. When she arrived at Cats Protection, a rescue organization near Bath, England, it was easy to see the calico senior had been on quite a journey. Nineteen years old and nearly blind, Pops was found stumbling alongside the road, confused and disoriented. Cats Protection has multiple locations across the UK, but Pops was by far the oldest cat they’d rescued.
At first, volunteers worried Pops had been struck by a car, but once they took her to a vet and learned about her advanced age and blindness, they realized she was just a sweet old lady in need of a helping hand. She quickly became a staff favorite at Cats Protection’s Midsomer Norton and Radstock Branch.
After sharing Pops’ story on social media, Cats Protection received numerous inquiries about the cat from around the world.
“We had nearly 200 offers to our website to home Pops, not to mention the offers via Facebook,” volunteer Belinda Dark said in a press release last August. “We have had offers from the length and breadth of the country, as well as France, Germany, USA, and Egypt.”
It was important, however, because of Pops’ advanced age that she be rehomed in her native Bath, which proved to be more challenging. One possible reason for this is “kitten season,” the time of year from approximately April to September when shelters are inundated with mind-bendingly adorable, meowing kittens.
These fuzzy babies are often more appealing to adopters than older cats — never mind a 19-year-old with otherworldly eyes. According to Cats Protection, across the UK more than six times as many kittens are adopted than older cats — however, at Cats Protection’s 31 adoption centers, nearly 10 percent of the cats in their care are at least 11 year old. On average, these feline seniors take five times longer than kittens to be adopted — a figure that jumps to six-and-a-half times longer during kitten season.
“During the spring and summer months we see a dramatic rise in kittens being adopted instead of older cats,” Dark said via press release. “It can be horribly sad to see them left behind. I think often older cats can get a little overlooked, much like second-hand items, but ultimately there is just as much joy in rehoming an older cat as there is a kitten.”
After Pops’ story made international headlines, the right family finally stepped up to offer the cat a forever home last summer. Pops’ family tells Catster she is doing really well in her new home — and her visual impairment hasn’t slowed her down at all.
“She has definitely settled in and is right at home,” they say. “She might be blind, but she knows how to move around the house and find her favorite spots! She has us wrapped round her little finger and will sit and cry if she doesn’t think she is getting enough attention.”
Though Pops’ story has a happy ending, many older cats remain in the shelters awaiting adoption — and they often have to wait much longer than their younger counterparts. Cats Protection has found that very young cats often remain in care for only as long as 10 days while older cats can languish in cages for as long as 59 days.
According to MEOW Cat Rescue in Kirkland, Washington, there are many great reasons to consider adopting an older cat — including, of course, providing an abandoned cat the chance to live out his or her final years in a comfortable, loving home. Older cats also require less attention and supervision than a kitten and might be a better fit for someone looking for a more laid-back companion. Pops’ new family quickly discovered the value of the kitty’s gentle, loving friendship.
“She brings a huge amount of happiness and joy to our lives,” they say. “We wouldn’t have it any other way. In a way, we are glad other people were put off her, because if she hadn’t made headlines we would never have had the pleasure of forming a bond with her.”