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Buying A "New" Cat

A story of pet adoption, senior cat health, and clean teeth


Black Jack / AmandaKnits

Black Jack


I love to knit, and in addition to visiting the About.com Knitting site, I visit a large forum and fiber arts database known as Ravelry. While most discussions center around everything "yarn," there are off-topic boards to discuss whatever comes to mind.

When I viewed a post titled "Buying A New Cat," I assumed it would be (another) thread about how veterinary care is too expensive or possiblly a rant about poor veterinary care. I opened up the post and braced for the worst. What followed was a surprise, not only from the original author, but from the many positive replies that followed.

Buying A New Cat was a story of pet adoption, senior pet health, and dental health; all rolled in to one. I messaged the author, and asked if she would be interested in being interviewed about her new cat, "Black Jack," for viewers of this site. I am grateful that she agreed. This is a story that needs to be told.

Meet Amanda and "Black Jack," the lucky cat.

Please tell us how you came to adopt your cat, and is he the only cat in the house?

In late October, we were searching on our city's website for information about tree stump and brush pickup. The second item on the drop-down menu was "Adopt-a-Pet" and I clicked on it to see if they ever offered pairs of dogs. Dogs? Yes, my husband wants to get two "tiny dogs."

One of the featured animals was Trouble, a 14-year old cat--a black cat. That seemed like two strikes to me. I started getting really upset at the idea of a senior pet not being adopted, so I worked on my husband for a few days until he agreed to meet Trouble.

When we met him, he was shy, but we knew he would be a good fit. We took him home a few days later and my husband renamed him "Black Jack." (Most of my friends thought we were crazy to adopt such an old cat, which just solidified my decision even more: who else would adopt him if we didn't?)

Black Jack had been at the shelter (actually housed at the local vet's office--we now use that vet) for almost four months. Once he got over his initial fear, he seemed to warm up to us very quickly. It only took a few hours for him to cuddle up and let us brush him.

He is the only cat in the house. My husband has never had any pets, and claimed he didn't want a cat, but he talks to Jack all day long, calling him "meow-meow," and other silly nicknames. I think Black Jack won him over!

We know that Jack lived with dogs before--the dogs did not like him, but he seemed fine with the dogs. We still want to get two small dogs, and will make sure they get along with Jack first.

Did you know his age and health status when you adopted him?

We knew that he was FIV and leukemia negative. On the day we brought him home, they did one last check and said he had a minor heart murmur. That sort of scared us, but we didn't want to back out of adopting him. Because the city had him, he was up-to-date on all shots and was neutered.

Why did you decide to have his teeth cleaned?

At our first check up, our vet said he appeared to have some gum disease and strongly recommended we get his teeth cleaned. They sent us reminders in February (for Dental Health Month). Friends of mine who own pets said it was a waste of money to get teeth cleaned, and that it was really dangerous for older cats, but we wanted to do right by Jack. We take care of our teeth, and we're his steward, so we need to take care of his teeth, too.

When he got his teeth cleaned, I went for the full blood work and an IV. Although they cost a little extra, they both made me feel better, since he's a senior cat and since he has a heart murmur.

During the cleaning, my vet called and said he needed to have a tooth pulled. It had a large cavity and was infected. So he had a cleaning and he had a tooth pulled.

Please outline the changes seen, pre- and post-dental.

Jack has always been a pretty low-key, calm, friendly cat. He slept a lot, and would only play for a few minutes a day. He doesn't jump up either, so we just figured it was part of his age.

But after he got his teeth cleaned, he seemed five years younger! He eats more food than before, and with more gusto! He is more vocal than before, and is more pushy--in a sweet, cat-like way. He sleeps a little less, and when we play, he plays for longer periods of time.

Jack is still very friendly, and still very cuddly. He just seems to have more energy! (Still no jumping up on things, though.) I think his teeth must have been causing pain, and now that pain is gone.

What else would you like other pet lovers to know about senior pets, dental cleanings, adoptions… any or all of the above.

One of the great things about adopting a senior pet is that their personality and temperament is already known. While kittens and puppies are adorable, I think a senior pet is an especially great choice to a first-time pet owner since they aren't as rambunctious as kittens and puppies. Jack doesn't chew on things, scratch furniture, or do any of those things that have to be trained out of kittens.

And many times you know if they get along with kids, need a quiet house, or other issues. You can get a pet that really fits your life.

Jack is the perfect cat for us, and I am so glad that we adopted a senior cat!

Thank you, Amanda, for sharing Black Jack's story. I love that you adopted a senior cat who might have been passed over. A cat who now has a wonderful, healthy life.

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