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Providing comfort care for aging big cats

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Few know the amount of comfort care required when you rescue geriatric cats. We often hear from our followers that we have dream jobs and how lucky we are to get to work with big cats.  We definitely do, and feel blessed each day that your support enables us to care for over 100 wild cats.

But our days are much different than most perceive.  It’s not all about seeing cats play with enrichment, splashing in pools or running in the snow.

Much of our time is spent meeting the needs of senior cats who require specialized and 24/7 care. It includes multiple rounds a day, preparing and administering doses of medications and supplements, checking heat and bedding to make sure they’re warm, cleaning and observing behavior.

Any of you who’ve had a geriatric pet or relative know how much care-taking is involved.  You also know the demand, both emotionally and physically, to ensure they have everything they need, especially in their final days.

Average Age of TWS Cats

As of October 2019, the average age of a cat at our sanctuary is 12 years old. Cats begin to show age-related changes between 7 and 10 years of age, as they head into their senior years. Veterinarians consider cats geriatric after 11 years old.

This year, 73 of our residents are over 11 years old, considered geriatric.  And 11   of those are over 18 years old!

We have many cats with special medical needs.  The majority have been declawed, weren’t fed a proper diet, and often haven’t been seen by a veterinarian since early in life.

Even the small hybrid cats we rescue come with a myriad of medical problems that have rarely been addressed.

That’s why comfort care is a big part of our daily routine. And it’s vital for them. Thanks to the specialized care they each receive, you’ve seen how many of our cats live long and happy lives here at our sanctuary, much longer than in the wild.

What Is Comfort Care?

Our comfort care program is about ensuring quality of life, not length of life. The goal is to make sure each cat is comfortable and enjoys a good quality of life in their geriatric years.

That’s why our veterinarians develop a treatment plan to meet each cat’s individual needs. Those with early renal disease receive supplements and pedialyte in their water.  Arthritic cats receive pain medication every 12 hours, as well as glucosamine. Some also receive laser treatments.

Caretakers also ensure they have soft places to walk and lie down, such as hammocks or bedding. We move cats to different habitats that suit their needs, whether it’s space or temperature-related.

Mohan’s Story

Tiger Mohan is just one of many cats in our comfort care program. Now 16, he came to us from a facility with years of animal welfare violations. Authorities finally intervened on both Mohan and Daisy’s behalf, looking for a sanctuary that could provide the extensive medical care they both needed.

He had torn cruciate ligaments that were never treated. They fused and his knees are severely bowed, making walking and getting up very difficult for him. Many may have given up on Mohan. But we didn’t!

He’s had his good days and bad days but, thanks to our comfort care program, his good days outnumber the bad. In the summer, he enjoys a natural, free-roaming habitat with lots of trees for shade and breezy catnaps.

In the winter, we move him to a special smaller habitat with a large, indoor heated bedroom he enjoys. He gets special soft bedding, along with medication, to ease his joint pain.

He is one of the sweetest tigers, even after all he’s been through in the past. He’s an inspiration, seeing every new day as a special gift to enjoy.

When To Let Go

It’s our responsibility to make sure Mohan’s ending is as good as his life here at the sanctuary.  It means making decisions for him, not for us. It means making sure he is pain-free, enjoying life and is active. And most importantly, knowing when to let go.

Saying good-bye is the hardest decision we have to make as caretakers, but it’s also the kindest.  We know caring for a geriatric population means a lot of sad farewells.

But because of you, we also have so many lives to celebrate, legacies to share, and we’ll continue to open our hearts to more wild cats in need. We’ll provide them comfort care, no matter their issues, no matter their age.

Thank you for making all this possible with your support, giving cats like Mohan a second chance.

Donations can be made HERE or by using the button at the top of this page.

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