Part 35: Successful Senior-Pet Ownership Part II: Caring and Sharing

Welcome Joan’s Journeyers. There is nothing like a good story with a happy ending, and I have three tales to tell. Last blog, Journeyers met Sylvia and Sassy. By asking for help from residents, friends, and the nearby veterinary clinic, Sassy received needed veterinary care and is thriving.

Tina and Mavia, a dear, handsome black rescue cat, flourish with continued outreach of ongoing pet services from their pet rescue adoption agency, the Sammy Foundation.

Mia, my former fabulous rescue cat, and her Daddy, Howard, share a good life as roommates in their comfortable Baltimore home. From Santa Monica, I have the frequent joy of streaming-live video with Howard and Mia. Why did I leave my healthy, adoring, beautiful Mia behind when cats are allowed at my senior living community? The answer is simple: I unconditionally love Mia, and I followed what my long-time and trusted Baltimore veterinarian advised.

Why I Left Mia Behind

Several years ago on a routine visit, Dr. Marian Siegel at Metro Cat Hospital diagnosed bladder stones in Mia. Dr. Seigle was concerned that during the nearly 12-hour, door-to-door voyage from Baltimore to Santa Monica, Mia would hold her urine because cats will not urinate in their carriers when they are lying in them. This could cause Mia’s bladder stones to move and irritate her bladder and/or cause blockage.

That was all I had to hear. Flying was out! Howard and I considered driving across country with Mia, but winter is no time for cross-country road trips. I investigated private pet air travel services. Although pets are pampered, they remain in carriers. I saw no choice but to safely and lovingly re-home Mia with Howard.

Initially, Howard and I planned to have Dr. Siegel reexamine Mia in the spring and then potentially fly Mia to Santa Monica. I would be settled in my unit and have identified a cat urinary specialist to check Mia upon arrival. Journeyers, as the saying goes, “God works in strange ways.”

One Door Closes, Another Opens

Nine days after I arrived in Santa Monica, well before my furnishings and car arrived, I accidentally tripped on a trampoline leg at my grandson Oliver’s fourth birthday party. I spent a week in the hospital and had very little use of my dominant left arm and shoulder for five long months of healing. How would I possibly have cared for Mia? I must confess, I was miserable without my furry roommate and friend. As the months passed, I missed Mia more and more but was relieved to see her on FaceTalk. She looked healthy and happy— as was Howard.

By June 2014, my arm and shoulder healed and I could drive again. Decision time was here. Should I risk Mia’s bladder health and have Howard fly with Mia to Los Angeles? I thought, brainstormed, talked again with Dr. Siegel, and prayed a lot. I researched every Internet entry I could find about cat safety and air travel. One link led to another, and I came across many rescue cat sites. I studied these sites and learned about Ragdoll cats, a pedigree breed known for their sweet, friendly nature and suitability for small spaces. The site Ragdoll Rescue Me caught my attention. The absolute cutest, fluffiest, adorable kittens needed to be rescued.

As an alternative to moving Mia, the idea to adopt a kitten literally hit me. I spent hours pouring over Internet sites describing cat breeds and their characteristics. Athletic Mia loves to run, jump and climb. In my downsized unit, the placid Ragdoll, with her docile nature, is more suited. Mia, a beautiful Russian Blue breed, is used to a quiet, one-owner lifestyle. On the other hand, Ragdolls are extremely social cats—a perfect match for senior living and small grandchildren. Neither Russian Blues or Ragdolls are known to shed a lot or have a great amount of dander, so seemingly, allergic family members would tolerate either cat.

On July 3, 2013, I visited Ragdoll Rescue Me and spotted a four-month-old Ragdoll kitten ready for adoption. Looking at the online photo, I fell in love with the tiny beauty. I suddenly realized that rescuing this kitten was a win-win situation. Now bonded, Howard and Mia would not have to part. I would give a needy kitten a home and have the joy of growing old with her. 

The rest is history—Heather and I are roommates and best friends. Mia and Howard are enjoying life together. Frankly, the decision to permanently re-home Mia was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. In retrospect, I am at peace with my decision because the results are the best possible outcomes for Howard, Mia, Heather, and myself.

Are you a senior-pet owner? In the Comments Section below, and I invite you to share your joys and complications of responsible pet ownership. In the next Joan’s Journey, we explore other stuff I left in Baltimore. Did I make the right decisions, or would I downsize differently? Until the next post, enjoy your journey day by day.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children and grandchildren.

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