It was a festive black tie affair on Sunday, July 22, as the male tabbies donned bow ties and the female short hairs proudly flaunted flower collars and tutus as they roamed around the Ladew Cat Sanctuary in hopes of being adopted by a senior citizen. The “Senior Prom” themed event hosted by the Patricia H. Ladew Foundation, Inc. in Oyster Bay sought to unite senior citizens from the community with senior cats as way to highlight its Seniors for Seniors program.
“I’ve always wanted to do something for senior cats,” said Dr. Susan Whittred, executive medical director of the foundation. “I thought doing this program might be a good way to get them out of the shelters.”
The Seniors for Seniors program matches senior cats (at least 10 years old) with potential senior citizen adopters and enables them to enjoy the benefits of pet ownership—which can include improved physical and mental health and longer lives with greater daily enjoyment, according to Whittred. To reduce the usual demands of taking on a pet, the foundation will pay reasonable medical expenses for the cat, which also may return to the sanctuary if circumstances change in the adopter’s life.
Oyster Bay Troop 138 Girl Scout Jodi Yeh, 17, has taken on the Ladew Foundation’s Seniors for Seniors program as the theme of her Girls Scouts Gold Award project. The Gold Award requires Scouts to do a major project that involves research, team building, planning and execution and that will have a lasting impact on the community.
The event took place on the foundation’s lovely property in Oyster Bay. Ladew bought the house in 1975 and passed it on to the foundation after she died in 2002.
“I thought it was going to be a palace and it was a disaster,” Whittred said of the property when she first came on board. “Little by little we fixed it up.”
In fact, she said they began a full renovation in 2009 that was completed in 2012. The house itself was fully renovated and is completely cat friendly, with flat screen TVs for the cats to watch, lots of sunlight and plenty of spots to climb, lounge and play. There is also a large enclosed “catio” for the felines, with access to three runs. In the back of the house, there’s an onsite medical clinic.
Currently, the sanctuary houses about 115 cats and has a staff of six, including a full-time manager. The foundation provides sanctuary, medical treatment and adoption services to cats who have landed on euthanasia lists in municipal shelters because their owners died or abandoned them, cats who were badly injured, and cats with acute and chronic health problems. Whittred noted that they do not take in cats from the general public. The goal is to maintain a homelike environment for the cats, provide medical care and affection and make the cats adoption-ready once the intake process is complete.
“We do full medical and dental on all the cats to get them ready for adoption,” said Whittred.
During the Senior Prom event, a few older cats found new homes and some kittens were adopted as well. The foundation was also offering starter kits consisting of cat food and litter boxes to those who adopted. Any senior interested in the program can still take advantage of the promotion while supplies last.
In addition to Seniors for Seniors, the foundation operates other innovative programs to raise funds and find adoptive homes for the cats in its care. Programs include Sponsor a Cat for people who cannot adopt, the Have a Heart Fund to provide medical care for cats with cardiac problems, an Emergency Fund and the Sandra Atlas Bass New Hope Fund, which directly supports rescue of cats on euthanasia lists. On Aug. 18, the sanctuary will be participating in a national day of adoption called Clear the Shelters. They will also be including a Seniors for Seniors component in that event.
While the foundation was left with an endowment, providing food, shelter and medical care for more than 100 cats is expensive, and donations are always welcome.
“We do everything for these cats,” Whittred said.
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