Twenty two-year-old Oscar the cat sat comfortably with the warmth of the sun on his back. His coat had lost its former sheen and his eyes were now as grey as the sofa he laid upon.
Despite his age, he purred loudly; Oscar had truly made himself at home within his new foster household.
His original owner (aged 95) had recently moved into a retirement home and sadly could no longer look after his favourite old companion.
Instead, Oscar found himself surrendered into RSPCA South Australia’s care and he was soon fostered to Jenny.
Over 2,000 animals pass through RSPCA South Australia’s foster care system each year.
The majority will live comfortably in a loving household for some respite, before becoming available for adoption into their forever home.
Oscar’s circumstances were slightly different. As part of the foster hospice system (fospice), he would spend the last of his nine lives with Jenny, right up until his last day.
This isn’t Jenny’s first time caring for an older cat. She’s opened her heart and home before to a 15-year-old cat named Gigi.
“I have a bit of a thing for taking elderly cats home,” she admits.
“It’s the best thing that I have ever done.”
Who says an old cat can’t learn new tricks?
Jenny was happy to see Oscar fit in so quickly. The elderly feline soon found himself a favourite spot in the house to nap, and wasn’t afraid to call out when he was hungry. Jenny described his lion’s roar for food as the loudest cat cry she had ever heard.
“He’d wake me up about six every morning with his extremely loud meow for food and he generally wouldn’t stop until I’d fed him,” Jenny recalled.
“He usually had a ravenous appetite, and I’d generally feed him a few times throughout the day.”
Jenny felt compelled to open up her house to fospice, after noticing how much longer it was taking to find older cats a forever home.
“It’s unfair that any animal has to spend its life at a shelter, especially an older animal,” she said.
Of course, the greatest challenge for our fospice carers is saying that final goodbye.
“Honestly it breaks my heart every time, but I’m happy to go through it if it means I’m able to be there with them at the end,” said Jenny.
“You can make the end of their life as special as possible. As much as it breaks your heart, you are giving them the best possible end to their life as you can.”
Oscar passed away on the 30th of September. Jenny says he was loved until the very end.
It takes someone very special to become a fospice carer. The experience can be demanding and short-lived. The heartbreaking conclusion can be mentally and spiritually taxing – and yet the reward of making an animal’s last days on Earth their most special can be truly life-changing.
Want to fospice a cat like Oscar? Join RSPCA South Australia’s foster family and make an animal’s last chapter their best chapter.