Cat proves it’s never too late to begin again

The face of Suzie the cat
Senior cat Suzie came to Best Friends looking and feeling worse for the wear, but today she’s feeling better and loving her new home.
By Nicole Hamilton

Not long after Nicole Lund adopted Suzie from Best Friends in New York, the 15-year-old cat leaped onto Nicole’s bed, ready to play. It was 4 a.m.

Nicole wasn’t surprised by the (way too early) wakeup call though. Ever since Suzie came to live with her, she’s been reminding Nicole that there’s a lot of truth in the saying “Age is just a number.” Suzie runs around the condo and leaps onto furniture to look out the window like it’s a sport.

“She’s quite the talker, too,” says Nicole, who sometimes can’t believe that Suzie is the same cat who came to the lifesaving center scared and overwhelmed and with a long list of medical challenges.

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Helping a cat feel better

Back when Suzie arrived at Best Friends from a shelter, it was clear she didn’t feel well enough to chat. She appeared tired and withdrawn. Her fur was matted and even missing in some places.

The Best Friends veterinary team determined that Suzie had severe dental disease, a heart murmur, and a skin infection that was likely caused by environmental and food allergies. She was uncomfortable and possibly in pain, and she needed help to feel better.

Daily, oral medication helped Suzie’s skin infection clear up, and the veterinary team prescribed her a special diet to determine whether she was allergic to specific foods. They also gave her a full dental cleaning and extracted several of her teeth. As for her heart murmur, the only thing to do was to monitor it regularly.

But there is so much more to Suzie than just her medical needs. And as the team got to know her, they could tell she leans toward kindness and grace, even during medical exams or when it was time for her to take her medicine.

Suzie perked up a bit once her mouth was no longer painful, and her tabby fur began to grow back. There was nothing holding her back from going to a new home, except that there weren’t many people interested in adopting a sometimes-shy tabby cat in her teens and with a long list of medical conditions that needed monitoring and attention from a veterinarian.

A senior with a sweet soul

Suzie benefitted from time in a couple different foster homes in the first few months she was with Best Friends. And then the team decided to have her stay at the lifesaving center in hopes that more people could meet her — and that ultimately they could match her with an adopter.

That’s how volunteer Nicole Lund first met Suzie. She made a point to check in on the senior tabby and spend a little time with her during her weekly shifts at the lifesaving center.

When Nicole first met Suzie, she was still grieving the loss of her cat Simba and didn’t think the time was right for her to adopt another cat. But as time went by and no one else wanted to adopt Suzie, Nicole started to think about bringing her home. “I could tell (Suzie) had a very sweet soul,” she says.

[Unforgettable 18-year-old cat goes home]

She spoke at length with the vet team to better understand Suzie’s heart condition and her dietary needs, and then she decided to do it. She would adopt Suzie and give the sweet cat a home.

Lessons about second chances

It’s been a few months since Nicole first brought Suzie home, and while it took her a little time to settle in, Suzie now seizes every chance she can to play. “She’s very active,” says Nicole, who was surprised by how much energy Suzie has now, considering how reserved she was at the lifesaving center.

While Nicole’s previous cat wasn’t much of a talker, Suzie is quite the conversationalist, chatting throughout the day. At night, she curls up with Nicole after a long day of play (that is, unless she’s inspired to wake Nicole up in the wee hours of the morning).

[A New York feline fairy tale]

As for Suzie’s medical needs, Nicole says they’re manageable with medication and regular visits to the vet. A recent checkup indicated that Suzie also has hyperthyroidism and is in the beginning stages of kidney disease. “A renal diet is now a part of her life,” says Nicole. “As is medicine, twice a day, for her thyroid condition.”

Suzie isn’t thrilled when it’s time to take her medications, but she tolerates it. “She is so forgiving,” says Nicole. “I’d say it’s a good reminder of how important forgiveness is.”

Now, Nicole shares photos and updates about Suzie on Suzie’s very own Instagram page. The page is a glimpse into the good life for a cat who missed out on that for a while. There’s Suzie napping next to the radiator, celebrating her birthday, and trying out one of her several special kitty beds that she initially ignored. The caption reads that she has decided to give the bed another chance — because “after all, second chances are important in life.”

This article was originally published in the May/June 2023 issue of Best Friends magazine. Want more good news? Become a member and get stories like this six times a year.

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