2017-07-12 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

I miss Molly; always will. Molly was an exceptional cat, one who could never spend enough time with people. In fact, she was returned to Babylon Shelter in 2011 for being “too friendly.” Not your typical reason for surrender.

Although Molly loved petting or sitting on a lap, she preferred you “wear her” like a mink stole draped over your shoulders. She knew who the cat lovers were. To welcome guests, she’d drop herself in mink stole position from a shelf by the back door, whether you were ready or not.

I am getting ahead of myself in telling Molly’s story. Let’s backtrack. My friend’s mom Dolly, then 88, now 94, is a lifelong cat lover. Her affectionate cat Daisy had just died, and she longed for another cat companion. She had two other cats, a male I trapped in her yard who had been coaxed inside, and an aloof female. She longed for a cat she could cuddle. Dolly would call me to say how devastated she was, missing her dear Daisy. (She was at home with a live-in aide who liked cats.)


Dolly with Molly perched on her walker Dolly with Molly perched on her walker Her niece took her to a Suffolk rescue (I won’t name it, but if you read Beacon “Pets” 7/14/2011, online you’llfind out). Dolly applied for a cat. One of her daughters would be back-up if her mom could no longer care for hers. This shelter blew Dolly off. They would not have gotten back to her if she hadn’t been so persistent calling. Her niece gave a nice donation, matched by her corporate employer. Still no one could take the time to give Dolly a straight answer about whether she could adopt the cat.

Finally someone at the rescue told Dolly she was denied because her other cats were not up to date on their shots. Dolly called a mobile doctor to her home for vet visits. Many cat owners are reluctant to give yearly vaccines now. My cat Veto died at 17. He was strictly indoors. He hadn’t gotten a vaccine in the last decade of his life. I felt she was being discriminated against because of her age. No one considered the mutual benefit for a senior citizen and a cat, one of thousands on LI without a loving home.

My 7/14/2011 “Pets” accused animal rescues of age discrimination, even within families where provisions existed in case the owner pre-deceased the cat. Here’s an excerpt: “Nowadays shelters and rescue groups screen applicants before placing animals.The goal is to put the pet in a safe, loving and permanent home. This is far better than the days when a dog or cat could be handed off to Charles Manson. But when screening rules are so rigid or subjective we lose sight of the big picture, we do a disservice to homeless pets and to the public. Countless cats continue to languish in cages, while elderly folks living alone lack loving companions. They miss out on a mutual admiration society.”

I got a lot of criticism from cat rescuers, especially because I described a specific organization denying a different senior a different cat. I heard the lecture: “Relatives will promise to take care of the cat but as soon as their parent dies, they can’t wait to return the cat to the rescue or dump it.” I still believe each case should be looked at individually to see if there is pet care help in the senior’s home plus family support for the duration of the cat’s life. Life changes in an eye blink. We do not have a crystal ball revealing how long each of us will live.

Back to Molly. After Daisy’s death, Dubet, an affectionate tortie, several years old, was returned to Babylon Shelter. She stood out from the cat crowd. She loved being carried around, and had been returned for being “too friendly.” Dolly came to the shelter with her daughter so I could introduce her to the tortie treasure. It was love at first sight. She left that day- no application, no adoption fee, just my recommendation with Dubet, renamed Molly, after everyone there heard stories of how much she loved cats.

Molly became a fast favorite. She was a constant companion. She became Dolly’s “mink stole.” Dolly adored her. Neighbors wanted to adopt her. Over the six years I got many thank you calls and invitations to lunch for homemade minestrone because I “gave” Dolly her Molly.This comical cat would drape herself over my shoulders too while I was trying to eat the delicious soup but laughing so hard.

Molly knew she had found her soul mate. She would balance on Dolly’s walker for hours, and then hitch a ride when her mom walked around the house. She’d politely wait outside while her mom was in the bathroom, and re-perch on the walker for the return trip to the kitchen. I never saw a cat do anything like this, and videotaped their routine for posterity.

Dolly remained at home with an aide’s help but the years from 88 to 94 took their toll physically and cognitively. In late spring, Dolly reached up from her walker, fell and shattered her femur. She’s been in the hospital and rehab ever since. It’s questionable if she’ll return home. We were talking about how Molly may do well as a resident cat in an assisted living. Meanwhile, Molly and the other female stayed at home with daily visits from the daughters; now a pet sitter. Molly craved this attention.

Two weeks ago, I got a call that something was wrong with Molly. She was crying and barely moving. Molly was rushed to her vet who diagnosed end-stage kidney failure and new mammary masses. Hydration didn’t help, and tests confirmed a bleak prognosis.

I want to think Molly knew she’d never be with her Dolly again. Her work on earth was done. She spared us the decision of finding the best place for Molly because there was no better place.

Cats for Adoption at Babylon Shelter (631-643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: Featuring two cats in honor of Molly, Babylon Shelter alumna. “Greyson” 7-172 - a feline fellow lost his home because his owner was too ill to care for him. He likes other cats and being kissed on the head. “Elm” is an adorable youngster, one of two born near a greenhouse. His rescuer just grabbed him. She didn’t need a trap.

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