A woman has shared how her plan to adopt an elderly cat so she could “die peacefully” in 2016 backfired when the cat ended up living much longer than expected.

Julia, 27, had the idea to adopt an elderly cat when she realized that she had space for a third feline in her home.

Aware that people usually adopt younger cats, Julia wanted to bring an older cat into her home to give it loving care for the last part of its life.

Studies have found that the chance of a dog or cat getting adopted significantly decrease with the age of the animal, with younger pets being more desirable to potential owners. There is also evidence that older animals are more likely to be returned to a shelter after adoption.

Some animals even find themselves returned to shelters after as long as a decade in a home as owners change their minds, while others find themselves struggling to find a home at all.

But Julia felt that she had the tools to take on an elderly cat, even if it was going to be for a short time: “I knew I could handle it emotionally,” she told Newsweek. “For some people knowing their pet will die is traumatizing, for me it is sad but not the end of the world.”

Determined to help an older pet, she headed down to the local shelter and their oldest cat was 11 years old—and had been at the shelter for two years.

She agreed to take her and drove her home where she immediately hid from her new owner.

“The next four months I basically didn’t have a cat,” Julia said. “Cat poop would respawn in the toilet, cat food and water would disappear. I kinda accepted having a ghost cat at this point. Then she started to leave her hideout about once a day when I cooked.”

By month five, she would come out a little more but still rushed back into her hiding space whenever her new owner moved. It wasn’t until month eight that she stopped running away.

Comfortable in New Home

A year in, she finally allowed her new owner to pet her and Julia felt comfortable.

“I thought, if she dies tomorrow my goal is fulfilled, a senior cat got comfortable in my home,” she said.

But now six years later, the elderly feline is still doing well. “My plan about giving this cat a peaceful end of life failed, but I’m happy it did,” she said. Despite a health scare when she was diagnosed with some allergies and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) in 2021, the elderly cat is doing well.

“She doesn’t seem bothered by her age at all,” said the owner. “Since I managed to find food that doesn’t trigger her allergies I just get her to the vet every 6 months or so for a regular check-up.”

After sharing the story on Reddit, hundreds of people reacted to the heart-warming story.

“I love this story. I wish more people would adopt older pets,” said one commenter. While another wrote: “Love can make anyone feel young again. I think that’s what happened here. Your love made her feel like a kitten again.”

“This is adorable… The old girl is not only kicking but it seems you’ve nursed her to better shape than ever,” said another reply.

Julia hopes her story might encourage others to think about adopting older animals.

“I think if you know you can handle your pet requiring a lot of medical attention, and you know you can handle the loss of the pet and focus not on them dying but on life you give them before they die, you should consider it,” she said. “On the other hand, if you find yourself terrified by the idea that your pet doesn’t have many years left in them, or you aren’t prepared to spend a lot on food and vet visits – you should probably opt to fostering or volunteering at your local shelter, donating, or just adopting a young healthy pet.”

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