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CT shelter pairs seniors with senior cats

By Audrey Russo

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    SOUTHBURY, Connecticut (WFSB) — Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors have been told that the way to stay safe is to stay inside and stay isolated.

That can be a lonely bit of advice, but the Whiskers Pet Rescue animal shelter in Southbury has a solution.

A circle of life starts very much in demand.

“Kittens come and go very quickly. Everybody wants a small kitten,” said Caroline Abate, Whiskers Pet Rescue.

However, there are some cats that simply don’t have another place to go.

“Owners pass away or go into a care facility,” Abate said.

That tiny kitten, now a senior cat over the age of 12, is alone in an unfamiliar cage.

If that senior cat lands at Whiskers Pet Rescue in Southbury, it won’t be there for long.

The shelter has a program matching local senior citizens with similarly wise and distinguished cats.

All the litter, food and vet care are paid for.

All the senior needs to provide is love.

“It’s not about the money, or anything else,” Abate said. “It’s providing a safe environment and a loving home for the animal.”

Specific tags can be seen throughout the rescue. At last check, the shelter had more than 45 senior cats paired up through the program.

“Eight o’clock in the morning, I feel a pat on the side of my cheek ‘time to get up mom!’” said May Bernhard, a senior cat adopter.

Bernhard was given her permanent foster right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m alone. I’ve been widowed for 18 years,” Bernhard said. “And It was very, very lonely. When Rosie came into my life, she filled a big part of it.”

It was a match so in sync, they’re even featured in the rescue’s yearly calendar.

“The third party, being Pattie, in the house makes it a little more interesting,” said Ron Pinto, who was given a special needs senior cat.

Pinto said he and his wife were given the cat around the same time in 2020 when they couldn’t visit their children across the country.

“They had a contest, who could move the furthest away,” Pinto said. “It’s not easy.”

The circle of life never is easy. There’s grief, loss, and unexpected change, things people don’t have to be human to feel, things that feel a lot worse when alone.

They are things the seniors and their cats can weather together.

“She’s such good company,” Bernhard said.

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