Cats offer unconditional love, hugs, stress relief

Advertisement Article: This article is from a special section that was not produced by the newsroom.

Any animal lover understands how emotionally having a pet can help our hearts. We share our lives, an unconditional love, a deep friendship and full of hugs. But having a relationship with a creature – primarily a dog or a cat – can also physically help our hearts, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

According to the American Heart Association, the beneficial effects of owning a pet can include increased physical activity, improved lipid profiles (cholesterol and other fats), lower systemic blood pressure, autonomic tone (nervous system ) improved, lower stress and even “improved survival after acute coronary syndrome.

About 2.1 million cats are adopted each year from shelters, just over 2 million adopted dogs, reports the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And generally, cats can make better pets for many seniors, noted Susan Kurowski, executive director of the Pets for the Elderly Foundation.

“Cats are useful for companionship without affecting the limited mobility of some seniors. We are also finding that some of the homes seniors find themselves in, such as apartments and condos, are more open to cats than dogs” Kurowski said, “Cats are easy to hold in your lap, and so many people, especially those who live alone, need the touch and cuddles provided by cats — who also need to be cuddled.”

Cats are generally easy to play with and don’t require the more active activity that dogs often do. Kittens love inexpensive accessories, like simple paper bags and feathers tied to long strings. Making DIY toys can also be a fun project for seniors. Senior caregiver website suggests filling an empty box with scraps like a cardboard egg carton, pipe cleaners stuffed into toilet paper rolls, a few balls and some hidden treats, to keep Fluffy happy for a while. hours.

After adopting a cat, owners can also have fun by downloading the free Cat Scanner app ( Owners simply take a photo of their cat, the app identifies its breed (even if it’s a mix) and shares fun facts about the breed’s characteristics and personality.

The East Bay SPCA has many cats available for adoption, including some through the shelter’s Seniors 4 Seniors program, which waives adoption fees for people age 65 and older.

East Bay SPCA

East Bay SPCA

East Bay SPCA: 8323 Baldwin Street, Oakland, 510-569-0702; 4651 Gleason Drive, Dublin, 925-479-9670

Sonoma County Humane Society: 5345 Highway 12 West, Santa Rosa, 707-542-0882; 555 Westside Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-3386

Last year, the East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals adopted 1,768 animals from its shelters in Oakland and Dublin, through efforts backed by 36,377 human volunteer hours.

Adoptees include pets in the shelter’s Seniors 4 Seniors program and the Pawspice adoption program. As explained by Lisa Hammock, manager of the Oakland shelter, the two concepts are designed “to give older pets who might otherwise be neglected a second chance at a loving home, while improving health and quality of life of the elderly”.

For the Seniors 4 Seniors program, East Bay SPCA staff will help visitors choose a senior pet – designated as 7 years and older – that matches their lifestyle and housing situation. Adoption fees for senior pets are waived for seniors age 65 and older.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this program as most seniors live on fixed incomes and pet care can be expensive,” Hammock said. “Seniors deserve the happiness of having a pet at home without having to jeopardize their financial security.

Currently, several adorable cats are eligible for the program, including Riya and Jessie.

Riya is a Russian breed and, at 10.5 years old, has been at the Oakland shelter for almost two months. Her name comes from Sanskrit, meaning “singer,” and is appropriate, Hammock said, “because she has a sweet little meow and likes to have conversations with her people.”

She likes to rub against her hands, corners and anything she can find to scratch her chin, Hammock added.

“She’s a pretty laid back girl who is just looking for a loving home and lots of pets,” she said.

Jessie, a short-haired servant, is almost 7.5 years old and has been in foster care at the Dublin shelter for almost five months. As a bonus, she comes with her best friend, Emma, ​​a short-haired maid who is just over two years old.

“They’re related,” Hammock said. “They have been together for a long time and lean on each other for emotional support.”

Through the Pawspice Adoption Program, pets with complex or terminal illnesses, but who still have a high quality of life, find loving homes faster. Thanks to generous donors, when adopters provide a forever home, the shelter is able to cover each animal’s medical care for their known conditions at the time of adoption.

Care is provided at the Theodore B. Travers Family Veterinary Clinic at the shelter in Oakland for the rest of the animals’ lives.

Sonoma County Humane Society

In its 2021 annual report, the Humane Society of Sonoma County listed 1,992 rescued animals, 98% of which were adopted through its Santa Rosa and Healdsburg locations. Of this number, 471 cats were relocated and 361 kittens were taken in.

Through its partnership with the National Pets for the Elderly Foundation, the Society’s Companion Connection program aims to provide support to seniors while saving the lives of shelter animals. The Foundation is a very successful model, working with 54 shelters in 32 states. In Sonoma County, adults over 60 get a 20% discount on the typical $90 senior cat adoption fee.

The Humane Society also runs its own program, as well as the Silver Whiskers Club for seniors 60 and older adopting pets ages 7 and older, with a reduced rate of $75 for cats, which can be combined with the Pets for the Elderly program for an even bigger discount.

Recently, two beautiful felines were in the Santa Rosa shelter waiting for their forever home. Lola is a 13-year-old short-haired servant, described as “a classy cat who knows how to release her inner kitten. She’s all purr and affection until you pull out the magic wand, and then she’s ready to have fun.

Another cat, Cali, a domestic shorthair, is nicknamed Oscar the Grouch, Garfield the Cat, and Squidward (from SpongeBob SquarePants), for his charming grumpiness.

“At just under 10, Cali might not want you to call her a grumpy old lady, but she won’t deny it either,” her description read. “Cali isn’t looking for someone who wants to cuddle and caress her all the time – constant attention will bring out her inquisitive nature not deeply concealed. She has her moments where she likes to rub up against your legs, or sit next to you or on your lap, but with Cali, you should accept the fact that she will call every punch…like the gorgeous cat she is.

Cali is also eligible for the shelter’s Country Cats program, designed for people who live or work on a ranch, vineyard, farm, warehouse or barn. Some felines prefer to live free rather than lay down in a typical home, but still need warm shelter, food, and water. Like all shelter animals, cats come with their health exams, vaccines, microchips and sterilization.

In another innovative program, the Humane Society of Sonoma County has partnered with FreeWill, an online service for creating a last will. Participants can designate their areas to benefit their pets and also animal shelters across the country.

For California residents, FreeWill also offers a free, revocable living trust service.