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“Seniors 4 Seniors” Program Is A Win-Win For Lonely Humans And Homeless Cats.

a two-photo collage. the firs is of ken johnson smiling as he sits in a chair and holds his cat, tully. the second is of a woman wearing a face mask sitting as she holds a dark grey cat close to her. the woman looks emotional.

Isn’t it wonderful when a program benefits everyone who gets involved?

Since 2020, a nonprofit called Feline Urban Rehab and Rescue (FURR) has been pairing up senior cats with senior humans. They call it their Seniors 4 Seniors program, and it’s one way that the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania rescue is helping to reduce the homeless cat population in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

FURR is a volunteer-based nonprofit that focuses their efforts on trapping stray and feral cats, neutering them, and finding them suitable homes. They find homes for around 700 cats each year.

Sadly, many senior cats who come into their care aren’t good candidates for a standard adoption. People don’t generally seek out elderly cats to adopt, and many of these animals require costly medical care. Not only that, but senior citizens who would benefit the most from having a companion animal often can’t afford to care for them.

That’s why FURR started Seniors 4 Seniors, a program that provides lonely people, who are at least 62 years old, with an older cat, free of charge. Seniors must provide food and love for their animals, but medical costs are covered by FURR!

“The biggest obstacle in the way of senior citizens adopting animals is typically the medical bills, so by us covering those bills, we allow seniors to get the love and benefits of having a feline companion without having to worry about unexpected costs,” said Seniors program chair, Heather Sweigert.

Ken Johnson was one of the first seniors to benefit from this program. He says it was “love at first sight” when he first met Tully, a 13-year-old tabby cat with health problems. Ken is an amputee who lives on his Social Security benefits, so normally having an animal wouldn’t be in his budget.

Thanks to Seniors 4 Seniors, he can cuddle up with his buddy without worrying about paying vet bills. He says he’s “the happiest [he’s] been in years” thanks to Tully.

“It’s nice to have another living creature that wants to be with me and relies on me,” Ken said. “He gives me someone to care for and someone to care for me. He’s a gentle soul who’s gotten in the habit of sleeping next to me, which is wonderful, and then jumping on my chest to get me up in the morning. He’s just so affectionate.”

FURR takes a lot of care to match up a cat’s personality with their foster human’s. Their lifestyles should be compatible and the cats must be kept exclusively indoors.

“We have the same type of life, so that’s why we bonded,” Ken said. “He’s my little buddy, and we have a great friendship.”

What a beautiful way to help both humans and animals. We hope more shelters start similar programs because this is such a clever, life-changing system!

Don’t forget to share this story to spread the word about Seniors 4 Seniors.

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