Death row cats: Time running out for elderly strays

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Her pleading eyes are begging for another chance – but time is running out for little Bun.

The elderly cat is one of dozens Maria Harrison, who runs Willows Cat Adoption Centre in South Shields, will come into contact with this winter.

However, due to their advancing years, illnesses and lack of identification, Mrs Harrison is having to turn to euthanasia.

The charity worker is now urging all cat owners to take care of their elderly pets and to keep them safe.

She said: “It is one of my greatest wishes that all cats are loved, respected and treasured by their owners, especially in old age.

“Sadly this is not the case with thousands of elderly cats being denied their basic needs. Owners need to be aware of the importance of keeping their elderly cats safe, well and protected.

Their suffering is heartbreaking.

Maria Harrison

“The only time we ever put cats to sleep is if there is major behavioural issues or they’re very sick. But when we end up with these elderly cats, who have numerous health issues and we can’t rehome them, then we’re left with very little option.

“We will keep Bun for a few more days, in the hope that her owner comes forward, but time is running out.”

Maria says elderly cats are just like humans. They suffer dental issues, their eyesight deteriorates, often they show signs of dementia .

She said: “Any changes of behaviour in a pet will indicate a problem, like drinking or eating a lot more than usual, crying out when they are normally non-vocal or soiling in inappropriate places.

“It is a huge myth that cats go away to die. The fact is they become ill and often confused and when they are feeling unwell they will seek a quiet place.”

Maria is also urging owners to have their elderly cats put to sleep to stop prolonged suffering.

She said: “We regularly have cats brought to us that are so obviously dying and should have been put to sleep by their owners well before they reach that stage.

“It is heartbreaking to us that their suffering was not brought to an end sooner. It is far better to be a week too soon than a week or more too late. This has always been our belief. Sadly many owners wait far too long to let them go. They can only think of how distressed they will be.”

Free guidance and advice available from Willows Cat Adoption Centre on 4568511.

The charity is also looking for foster parents, who can look after older cats, to come forward.