Parent with dementia? Sad, but they can be a danger to cats.

In the paper today, a man with dementia put stain remover into coffee instead of sugar. He died. His wife will recover. Obviously not his fault. He’s mentally ill.  We hate to think of senile/dementia/Alzheimers parents and grandparents as being dangerous. They’re lucid sometimes, right? It’s not like they’re drooling and yelling, right? They wouldn’t hurt anyone, right?

Wrong. Leaving a cat or a dog in the hands of a senile parent, even if they’re often lucid, is wrong. You’re putting the animal in harm’s way. What if the parent tries to lovingly give the cat’s a bath, but uses ammonia instead of water? It’s happened.

Yes, but what if the parent loves the animal and would miss her if she were taken away? That’s heart breaking. Maybe offer to keep the pet and bring her on each visit, or if there is a nurse, have the nurse become the cat’s care taker, if the nurse doesn’t mind. Pay the nurse a little more to help out with the cat.

Do you want to visit your mother’s house and find the cat writhing in pain because she’s eaten poison?

It’s a sad situation, but we can’t let mentally ill people be in charge of defenseless creatures.

Hey cat owners, you don’t have to let your cat bite you. That’s just crazy.

What kind of masochistic deal is this?  Listen, if your cat nips at you, bites you and tries to scratch you, there’s a simple solution.

Move the heck away from your cat! Step away from the kitty! Those boots were made for walking, girl. And please, please, don’t play with your cat using your toes, fingers and hair. Then you’re asking for it. May as well write letters to inmates at SuperMax facilities, and send them a photo of you in a bikini.

We humans are supposed to be the ones with big brains, but sometimes I wonder.

Newsflash . . . being a good owner isn’t the same as being a punching bag.  Anyway, if you don’t learn to avoid getting bitten and scratched, you KNOW that sooner or later your adorable fluffy will scratch or bite you on a day when you’re in no mood for it.  You’ll scream your head off at that poor beast. You might even take her to a shelter. How compassionate is that?

My fancy, elaborate advice to owners whose cats are beating them like a rag doll is to just stop. When those claws come out, the fun ends. Get up and walk away. No yelling. No baby talk.  If you’re in bed and the cat hassles you, put the cat on the floor.  Keep a bunch of toys around so you can distract monster kitty with a mousey wand or crinkle ball.

I know, I know. Some cats are relentless. That’s what doors and ear plugs are for. Cats can be annoying.  Some of them even specialize in being annoying. That’s one of the reasons I love them. They’re punks. They crack me up.

Women who make a difference for animals

Temple Grandin. Autistic. Developed less frightening and more efficient way to guide animals to slaughter, making the process less bad for the animals. Many, many women work in animal shelters, doing rescue work and so on. That’s great.  We also need women who will tackle engineering and technical work to make the lives of animals better.

Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin. Improved slaughter systems.

Should you get your elderly parent or grandparent a cat?

Think long and hard before getting a cat for a senior citizen.

I’ve seen some rough situations with senior citizens and cats. Even though it can be a beautiful relationship, there’s potential for awful abuse of the cat.

A mean young person is only going to get meaner when they grow old. A terrific young person can turn evil if dementia attacks their brain. Eye sight and hearing can go, which means the owner won’t even see how ravaged their cat looks. They can forget to feed the cat and forget to provide water. They can scare off groomers and pet sitters by being irritable and irrational.

Bad things that can happen to a cat:

  1. Claws growing into the paw pad so deeply that the paws bleed. A senior citizen owner became enraged when I told her the claws had to be trimmed.
  2. Cats with mats covering their body.
  3. Filthy litter boxes.
  4. Cats so fat that they can hardly move.
  5. Cat owners who are on sedatives, so they can barely talk, let alone care for an animal.
  6. Cat owners who repetitively scream out their cat’s name (due to owner’s loss of hearing), then complain that their cat doesn’t cuddle with them.
  7. Temper.  Some old people are very, very angry. They may not get many visitors other than the maid, so no one will know if they take out their frustration on their cat. Some old people scream at their husband and the house keeper, creating a scary home for everyone.
  8. Some old people hate to spend money. They remember when you could buy much more with just a few dollars. This can make them hesitate to take the cat to a vet or deal with urgent grooming problems.

Look, it’s great if a cat helps a senior citizen enjoy life more, but do you really want to be the reason some timid former-street-cat gets abused? That’s not rescuing a cat. That’s putting a cat in harm’s way.

Make no mistake about it, being starved of food and water, being neglected so that litter piles up, having mats growing all over our body, or being screamed at is all abuse.

Yes, many senior citizens take good care of their cat. Just make 100% sure your elderly parent or grandparent is going to be one of them. A cat may be “just an animal” but they do have the ability to feel pain and fear. Personally, I’m not going to have a pet after the age of 70.  I’ve seen too many sad things.

We’re afraid to touch our pets

I see this a lot. People afraid to really brush their pets for fear of hurting them. If you’re using a comb or a slicker brush, put some energy into it.  Don’t brush like you’re 95 years old and living on a diet of yoghurt and cigarettes. Step lively folks! Cats are animals and so are we. Neither of us are made of glass.  We survived the Kardashians. We can survive anything.

Men who made a difference in the lives of animals

Worldly hero.
Worldly hero.

Henry Bergh founded the ASPCA. He was a cultured, sophisticated man of the world with a big heart.

“Henry Bergh was born in 1813, the son of a prominent shipbuilder. His adult years found him to be a man of leisure, dabbling in the arts and touring Europe. As was befitting the life of an aristocrat, in 1863 he was appointed to a diplomatic post at the Russian court of Czar Alexander II. It was there he first took action against man’s inhumanity toward animals.”

“Day after day I am in slaughterhouses, or lying in wait at midnight with a squad of police near some dog pit. Lifting a fallen horse to his feet, penetrating buildings where I inspect collars and saddles for raw flesh, then lecturing in public schools to children, and again to adult societies. Thus my whole life is spent.”