“Old age is just a record of one’s whole life.” – Muhammad Ali
In a world where elderly pets are often treated with diminishing value as they age and disabled pets are regularly euthanized, there are still safe places where these animals can feel loved and cherished.
Welcome to Cats Haven, Indianapolis’s oldest cat sanctuary and home to over 100 senior and special needs cats, over 300 cats total in the care network.
Going on its 27th year of operation, Cats Haven is a non-profit, no-kill, free-roaming cat sanctuary where the average age of the residents is 12 (or 64, in human years). While there are a few adoptable cats, most are housed to live out the remainder of their lives in love and comfort, including “wobbly cats” who have the condition cerebellar hypoplasia.
While cerebellar hypoplasia (which disrupts cerebellum development in kittens and has been linked to a viral infection during the mother’s pregnancy) used to be a death sentence, Cats Haven has been trying to give these animals hope. Working tirelessly for close to three decades with local veterinary clinics and shelters to give these cats a forever home, wobblers essentially live their lives like any other cat, average lifespan still being 15 to 16 years … they’re just a bit more unsteady than your normal cat.
So how did it all start? Twenty-seven years ago founder Barbara Wills found a kitten in her backyard that was unable to move its back legs. She was told by vets and rescues alike to just euthanize the kitten (dubbed Phoenix), there were plenty more kittens in the world, that there was no hope that Phoenix would ever walk because of the BB discovered embedded in her spine. Touched to the core by the lack of value given to elderly and disabled cats, Barbara (who is actually allergic to cats herself) decided to start Cats Haven, a free-roaming, no-kill cat sanctuary.
Phoenix lived the remainder of her life happy and free-spirited, crossing the Rainbow Bridge at 12 years old and loved to the very end, and that is what Barbara and the rest of the Cats Haven volunteers want to give every cat.
And doesn’t every living creature deserve that dignity and respect?