Snickers – 85 and Paws-itively Old

Positively Old Cat at 85My cat Snickers turned 17 in June. That makes her 85 in people years. Most animals, can be positively old just like we can, but since so many of their choices are left to someone else, they need a little help from their humans.

Certainly, most animals have the right attitude. They just require love, entertainment, and food in order to stay healthy and happy. If they are healthy and happy, then they stay relaxed and positive and can live to a ripe old age without unnecessary aches and pains.

Snickers was a little embarrassed about being selected as a role model for all the four-legged wonders out there (she’s a bit shy), but she has lived a full life and has a lot to share, so I talked her into it. Here’s her story…

She was born in South Florida inside the base of a banyan tree, kind of like a Keebler elf. My husband at the time and I discovered the litter while searching for golf balls along the course we lived on. We selected the little tortoise-shelled Calico and her brother, Toonces, from a litter of six before the Humane Society was called to take the rest away. We were set on selecting two, so they would each have a playmate. As if confirming our decision, a double rainbow appeared in the sky as we picked out our furrballs. As we carried the mewing babies off, their large black momma cat, who was the very essence of what the little runt Toonces would soon grow up to be, came out of the tree after us and stared us down. After a few moments, she seemed to nod, turn, and return to the rest of her litter. I guess we passed inspection.

As babies, Snickers and Toonces were dark little dots hopping about the carpet. They would play fight until they fell asleep in each other’s arms. The two were best friends until Toonces got so big that he would easily hurt his sister on occasion. Being the communicator that she is, she’d let out a bone-chilling shriek and scamper off. She’d turn her back on him for a time despite his persistence, just to teach him a lesson. Eventually, he’d apologize by rubbing her cheek, they’d make up, and then he would be gentler with her the next time. And he would. Soon she had him trained.

The cats moved with us to New Mexico and later to Lancaster, California, where Toonces soon died at the age of 7 1/2 years. We were unable to control his diabetes, which the vet said is difficult to regulate in felines. After her brother’s death, I was prepared to get Snickers a kitten to keep her company. It soon became apparent, however, that she was basking in the glory of being the Queen Bee. She didn’t have to find new spots to nap only to have Healthy Cat Cuddlingthem stolen every couple of weeks by her ponderous brother. She didn’t have to share the attention of her humans, at least not with another cat. Her life was purrfect. And though I never bought her a kitten of her own, I did buy her a black stuffed cat from the Rainforest Cafe so she would have a cuddle buddy. The girl does love to cuddle!

In 2006, at the age of 12 (60 in people years!), I brought Snickers with me to Glendale, California. I bought a condo with a large tree overlapping the back porch on the second floor. It feels like we’re living in a giant tree house. Initially, there was a tree right outside of the bedroom window where Snickers could watch the birds nest and the babies chirp for worms. (It was her big screen TV in high def!) She’s got birds and squirrels and all sorts of wildlife to contemplate throughout the day, mostly from the safety of her porch or window. And occasionally, I play her relaxing yoga music, which she adores.

At this time in her life, she’s had a few teeth pulled and her stomach’s not what it used to be. This makes her a bit finicky when it comes to eating. Her kidneys are seeing early signs of disease, and she probably sleeps more than she did when she was in her prime. But other than these small challenges, at 85, she’s still willing to play, living to love, and very goal-oriented. In short, she’s paws-itively old.

Now shy though she is, Snickers has always been a strong communicator. In fact, once she was on board with this article, she insisted that I share some of her best tips. So here they are, in her own words. Enjoy.

Snickers’ Tips on Healthy Aging:

Healthy Cat Watching Birds• Cat naps are essential. Sleep at least until the next meal.

• Demand the best food; heck, you’re old now – you’ve earned a few perks. And cats don’t get handicapped parking. Besides, you need additional nutrients at this stage in your life.

• Occasionally, I get glucosamine/chondroitin tablets. I take the treats only when I feel like I need them. I was having trouble going up and down the stairs for a period of time; one month’s worth of GC tablets seemed to do the trick. Thanks mom!

• Do whatever it takes to get more love—caterwauling, a firm but patient stare, the always effective head bunt, and vomiting or feigning illness if you must. Time is limited, and it doesn’t hurt to remind them that your days are numbered.

• Brushing is a special right which should be protected at all costs. When this is neglected, leave hairballs all over the house to demonstrate to your humans the error of their ways.

• Let’s talk litter boxes. I’m a big believer in a clean box with a litter-free path to it. This is a matter of health for sure, both yours and your beloved owners. When it’s not kept up to my standards, I will find other places that meet my standards. Of course, I find it less stressful playing by house rules. To demonstrate how effective this method is, however, I should reveal that I now have a luxurious litter box in the bottom of the bathroom closet. It’s bigger than most litter boxes, enabling me to compartmentalize my creations more easily, and there’s no wasted space around the box to collect misfires.

• Get plenty of fresh air each day.

• Practice your hiss regularly to keep annoying feline visitors and small children at a safe distance.

• Relax a bit. The things that used to freak me out now just make me turn the other cheek – yes, give them the old butt “in your face.” Which cheek did you think I meant?

• Mom takes me to the vet regularly once a year. This one area where we disagree. I don’t need pain and thermometers up my butt to feel better I can assure you. And the stress of it all is like to give me a heart attack.

• Exercise is important. I do yoga with my human regularly. I’m particularly good at “the cat pose,” and I like meditating to the soothing music. Yes, that’s what I’m doing while I’m lying there with my eyes closed. Honestly, you don’t get this old or good looking without practicing some form of enlightenment.

• In the winter, be sure to stay warm. Snuggle under the covers with your owner or carve out a nice lap whenever possible.

• In the summer, stay cool. Drink plenty of water, and demand air conditioning.

• And remember—the occasional cat nip is good for the soul…and as cats, we’re lucky—it’s legal.

That’s about all there is to it! Take care of yourself and the world will be kind to you.


Sage advice from my cat. There’s probably even some seeds of wisdom amidst the cat litter for us humans if we really think about it.

Enjoy your four-legged friends and help them live long and prosper.


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One Response to “Snickers – 85 and Paws-itively Old”
  1. Marilynn Cronin says:

    Great story – I still like the photo of her at the computer vying for my job!

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