You might have read this story as it’s all over the Internet. I resisted writing about it because it’s so sad but I thought I’d have a go at it nonetheless today.
Tilly is thought to be the UK’s oldest rescue cat at 24-years-of-age. She is a tortoiseshell cat and she has been at a sanctuary since 1995. She is currently looked after by Joyce Clarke who is the owner of the West Midlands Animal Welfare Sanctuary. She’s been at this sanctuary for 20 years.
Joyce says that Tilly can be a bit difficult but that she is so good with the other cats in the shelter and has even looked after a few of them herself. Tilly appears to be uninterested or at least she shows a disinterest in visitors to the sanctuary who wish to adopt a cat. In addition Joyce says that Tilly can be a bit stroppy and would occasionally snap at people but doesn’t do it any more in her old age.
I suspect also that at a certain point in time the difficulties with her personality, which to be honest do not seem that bad at all, developed into a problem with her age. We know that older cats find it hard to attract an adopter. And cats of let’s say 10 years of age and above can be considered old by visitors. Certainly a cat who is 15 is considered old and therefore for the last 10 years or so Tilly has been effectively unadoptable because of her age.
But surely this is unfair and incorrect? Old cats should be adopted by older people. They’re ideal for older people except for the potential health issues but Tilly was a still is a healthy cat. The tortoiseshell coat is very attractive. Tilly is no longer a bit dismissive of visitors as Joyce has explained. Therefore, over the past 10 years there has been no reason really why she shouldn’t have been adopted by a more senior citizen.
The sanctuary where she is at do not euthanise cats and therefore she will live out her life at the sanctuary unless somebody has warmed to her due to the heavy Internet coverage and decides to adopt her.
That said, it could now be argued that she should not be adopted because she’s been so long at what appears to be a very good sanctuary. In fact, even after half the time that she has been at the sanctuary it could be argued that it would have been a bad idea to adopt her because she is clearly so settled in what is her permanent home.
What does this tell us about the attitude of people adopting rescue cats? It tells me that people are quite fickle really. They still tend to have adopt kittens and super attractive cats while shunning the idea that a person can form a very close and beautiful relationship with a cat who is less than attractive both in appearance and character as seen at a shelter (which is not always reflective of the cat’s true character). In addition there is a great reward in adopting a cat who is less popular because you are doing that cat a great favour and with plenty of TLC you can make that cat’s life very good and receive a reward in return from the cat.
There is not enough consideration given to the subtleties of the relationship between human and cat. A lot of people still adopt cats as possessions in much the same way that they purchase a new washing machine or car. People still, to a large extent, relate the domestic cat in that way. Clearly, there are many millions people who don’t think like that but there are still too many who do which is the reason why Tilly has been stuck at this loving sanctuary for most of her long life.
She is clearly a very healthy cat to live to 24 which is an extraordinary age for a domestic cat. It also tells us that the West Midlands Animal Sanctuary is very good at looking after their cats. There is though one last possible reason why Tilly has been rejected so often: has Joyce been doing all she could to market Tilly for adoption? That is not a criticism, just an obvious observation.