Owning a pet brings plenty of benefits, and research suggests this is especially true for seniors. That understanding prompted Sheltering Hands, a central Florida-based cat rescue and spay/neutral clinic, to initiate its Seniors for Seniors foster program. The effort connects older Floridians with older felines, and sometimes, it results in unexpected pairings.
Elena Goulet, who chairs Sheltering Hands’ board of directors, recalls one such unusual match. An elderly woman was looking for a docile lap cat to snuggle and love. Shelter staff had the perfect feline in mind, but Dixie, a spitfire calico with plenty of attitude had other ideas. After five years of hissing and nipping at every prospective new parent, Dixie found her person. She let down her guard and crawled into the woman’s lap. The rest, as they say, is history.
“Dixie was not what the woman came in looking for, but she was exactly what she needed,” Elena contends. “They became a family, providing to each other the ‘unknown quality’ the other desperately needed.”
The Seniors for Seniors program is just one of the rescue’s many efforts to improve the livelihoods of unwanted felines. “We are the cat people,” Elena says, “and while we may be small, we’re making a big impact, bringing love in its purest form to cats and their human companions.”