Amy, 37, a compliance officer of East Grinstead, has found 15-year-old Joe’s companionship invaluable for her wellbeing during recent issues.
She said: “I’ve had a challenging few years, but Joe has been my light in the dark. He is my amazing old boy who has helped me through some personal challenges, which at times made me feel immensely lonely.
“My marriage broke down during Covid and, although I am completely fine now, it took a while to pick myself up and get back to being happy and also getting used to living on my own. Having Joe around really gave me a focus, and I genuinely believed that he saved me.
“Joe has been my shadow and has been there for me when I was feeling down or overwhelmed with the situation. Joe has a very calm and chilled personality, but can be cheeky at times, and that is exactly what I needed.
“Cats help our mental health by just being there. I know how true that is, because Joe saved me. He is always there when I need a cuddle, someone to talk to and a focus to each day.
“Due to age and the fact that he only has one eye, the only hunting Joe does is for litter. Quite often I come home and find an empty crisp packet or bottle cap on the kitchen floor. Those little gifts from Joe would put a smile on my face when I needed it most.”
Amy adopted Joe in 2014 after he was advertised as one of the most overlooked felines at Cats Protection’s East Surrey Branch. She said: “I saw him online and immediately knew that I wanted to adopt him. He was super cute and, despite only having one eye and looking a bit dishevelled, he seemed liked a really calm and kind soul.
“I guess he’d been passed over in favour of more attractive cats, but to me he was perfect. I knew I could give him the safe and stable home that he deserved. I already had a young cat and I thought that Joe would help him come out of his shell, teach him the ropes. I was right. They became firm friends until, sadly, Colin had to be euthanased in 2017.
“I’ve since adopted Harry, who is four years old and Joe has taken him under his paw, too. He is always grooming and playing with Harry and I often find them sleeping together.”
On average, older cats in the charity’s care wait three times longer to find homes than their younger counterparts, despite having great qualities that make them the perfect pet for some.
Cats Protection champions senior cats with its annual Mature Moggies Day (16 June), when the charity highlights the benefits and shares myth-busting advice and support for anyone considering adopting an older cat.
Daniel Cummings, Cats Protection’s Behaviour Officer, said: “It’s a common misconception that older cats don’t play or interact much with owners when mature cats are just as loving and playful as younger cats. In fact, it could be easier to introduce a mature cat to your home than a younger cat or kitten.
“The amount of love these older cats have to give is vast. Adopting an older cat could not only provide you with company, but you would also be doing something wonderful by giving a loving home to a cat.”
Though older cats like Joe may still like to showcase their inner kitten, eventually most tend to show their age. Older cats need a little extra care and attention as they enter their twilight years, but there are lots of ways to help a cat continue to be healthy and happy.
Joe isn’t any different, Amy said. “He’s a gentle old guy who is calm and relaxed, but he loves to play too and can cause just as much mischief as my younger cat – especially if he has a burst of energy after mealtimes. But he is getting older and he loves to snooze most of the day, especially in the garden when the sun is out and on my pillow overnight.
“Adopting an older cat is very rewarding and it’s nice to know that you are helping them have a comfortable life in their senior years. My experience is that mature moggies can be calm and extremely loving. Joe made such an impact on me that I decided to volunteer for Cats Protection’s Crawley Branch.
“Joe is extremely loving and seems grateful to have a comfortable and safe home. He always has one eye on where I am though and he’s never too far away. I haven’t looked back since that first day of meeting Joe. We’re pretty inseparable.”
Cats Protection has produced a guide on how to care for elderly cats like Joe, including behaviour to look out for, recommended diets and how to ensure they’re comfortable at home.
Amy said: “Joe has recently been diagnosed with heart disease and hypertension so is on medication, but he is very cooperative and lets me give me his pills easily. I am committed to Joe and will make sure he gets all the care he needs to remain happy and comfortable for as long as possible. We’re in this together.”