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The CNC produces journalism on a variety of topics in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties for about a dozen media partners including newspapers, radio and television stations and magazines.

Pet-adoption program keeps older cats (and humans) in mind

Freddie loves to sit on her catio, and she prefers to go to a home with a catio or a safe, enclosed outdoor space she can enjoy.
Freddie loves to sit on her catio, and she prefers to go to a home with a catio or a safe, enclosed outdoor space she can enjoy.

Cat Depot is teaming up with national organization Seniors to Seniors.

Freddie has been enjoying her screened-in space at Cat Depot for more than 60 days now, waiting patiently for someone to sweep her away to a home in which she can spend her golden years.

At 12, Freddie is a friendly female domestic short hair available for adoption at Cat Depot, a free-roaming rescue, adoption and education center on 17th St. in Sarasota.

Freddie is one of a few Cat Depot residents who qualify for their Seniors to Seniors program.

The program, operated in partnership with national organization Pets for the Elderly – which raises funds to subsidize the cost of adoptions -- allows people 60 and older to adopt a cat that is 8 or older for a reduced adoption fee of $25. Cat Depot fees are normally between $75 and $100.

“You know, in someone who’s aging, they’re less able to get outside, they’re less able to connect socially, and having an animal can help offset that,” said Cat Depot Executive Director Susan Hanus. “And I think that people really care for animals, and that we as a society carry with us a sense of wanting to care for and take care of domestic animals.”

Hanus said caring for animals can have health benefits, especially for older pet owners. She points to research that connects animal ownership with better heart health, lower obesity levels, and lower rates of depression and loneliness.

The Seniors to Seniors program doesn’t just benefit humans, though.

Senior cats are typically harder to find homes for and that can lead to higher costs for shelters. Hanus said she thinks concerns about veterinary costs might push potential pet owners toward younger animals, adding Cat Depot is studying the phenomenon to better understand and address concerns about older pets.

The organization has placed about 20 cats in the program so far, and Hanus said they plan for the program to continue indefinitely.

“We’ve seen such a wonderful, benevolent response to it that we have no reason to stop it,” Hanus said. “The density of 65+ people living here is way over the national average, so the two things happen. One, you have seniors adopting … and two, you have senior cats being relinquished. So, whether you come in from the people end or you come in from the cat end, it's a win either way, no matter how you look at it.”

Cat Depot has three cats available for adoption who qualify for the Seniors to Seniors program, and they expect at least three more soon.

All of their adoptable cats can also be seen online at catdepot.org/adopt/.

Sarah Owens is a reporter for the Community News Collaborative. She can be reached at slowens@cncfl.org.

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