SPOTLIGHT: Golden Oldies Cat Rescue
Margaret Slaby lives in a small home, but she makes room for a dog and four cats. What she needs now is more room – not for herself or her pets, but for dozens of older cats in need of new homes.
Golden Oldies Cat Rescue is a nonprofit that provides foster homes for cats ages 6 and up with the goal of finding permanent homes. The animals are not strays, but pets at risk of being sent to shelters because their owners either died or can no longer care for them.
Since the program began in 2016, Slaby and the team of volunteers have helped 31 cats find new homes – 17 this year alone. It may not seem like a large number, considering the volume that shelters deal with, but older cats do not have the same appeal or life expectancy as kittens. The average age of these pets is 12, with the oldest – now in a foster home – at 17.
“When somebody adopts an older cat, that just amazes me,” Slaby says. “They are heroes. They know that they’re going to have grief, but there are so many rewards. These older cats are so happy.”
But there is need for more. “The number of requests we receive to help place older cats has increased dramatically, and currently we do not have enough fosters to meet the demand,” Slaby observes.
Golden Oldies’ Big Idea is to expand its foster program and reach out to people who may be interested in adopting an older pet. Already the group provides food, cat litter, beds, toys and medical care for the foster program, and spends about $900 a month advertising available pets to the public.
With MCGives! funds, the group plans to expand advertising in local media outlets in an effort to get cats adopted more quickly. The average was 34 days from foster to adoption, but recently three cats lingered in foster homes for three months – with the added costs of food and litter.
More importantly, Golden Oldies plans to develop orientation sessions for potential fosters, with a goal of adding homes.
“We have to have foster homes,” Slaby says. “If we don’t have, we can’t help. That’s reality.”
Slaby knows reality all too well. She worked with SPCA of Monterey County as an animal care technician. While she values the work of that and other animal care nonprofits, she saw that older cats were more likely to be euthanized. “I couldn’t do it anymore,” Slaby says. “You care so much for these animals.”
She calls it “compassion fatigue,” and adds, “It still hurts me inside – that’s why Golden Oldies is here.”