About seven years ago, Gordon Galbraith was visiting a seniors' centre in Surrey, when he spotted a flyer from Action for Animals in Distress Society. The Burnaby rescue group was promoting a seniors' cat program, and offered to cover food, vet and care costs if seniors were willing to take on a feline companion.
"In other words, they were just looking for homes for the animals," Galbraith said. "It sounded like a good thing for me, so my wife (Helen) and I went over to see her."
The woman they visited was Nikki Forbes, a Burnaby resident and founder of Action for Animals.
"Nikki has an excellent system for getting a cat. You don't pick the cat; the cat picks you. She had about 40 cats," Gordon said, laughing. The cat that approached the couple was Emma, who was about eight or nine years old at the time.
Gordon and Helen are both in their 70s and have had cats most of their lives, so they were happy to take on Emma, and Action for Animals guaranteed to cover all the associated costs.
Forbes, who has been rescuing cats since 2002, created the seniors' program to match elderly cats with seniors. There is no charge to take home a cat, and Forbes provides the caregiver with a litter box, litter and food and takes the cat to the vet when needed. Forbes designed the program to alleviate many of the worries seniors may have about pet ownership, especially if they are on a limited income or may have to go into a care home that doesn't allow pets. With the seniors' program, Action for Animals doesn't adopt the cats out; they are on loan, and the rescue can take them back if need be. According to Forbes, there are benefits for seniors who have a cat.
"It gives them a reason to wake up in the morning, it takes away that empty space in their life," she said. "It's a friend, a companion."
Forbes' seniors' program serves Burnaby, New Westminster and Coquitlam, but she doesn't have enough volunteers to reach the farther suburbs.
Gordon said the program is excellent, as cats need homes.
"Cats are great company," he said. "They're independent sort of cusses, as long as they are fed and watered, they are fine."
Gordon would also recommend the program to other seniors.
"I am a big proponent of that sort of thing. I think animals should be looked after. If seniors want a cat, you can't get a better program than that," he said. "If you were to go to a pound and get a cat, that's going to cost you $180 to $200, and you can get them from Nikki for nothing."
Gordon's cat Emma, who quickly became a part of the family, passed away this summer, and the Galbraiths are now on their second cat from Action for Animals.
For more information on Actions for Animals, go to action foranimals.net.
© Copyright 2013