In theory, taking an animal into your home means that you are committed to that animal's well-being for the rest of its life. In reality, some owners either don't want to or haven't the constitution to care for elderly and geriatric pets and their special needs. Sadly, many of these older pets end up abandoned in shelters and subject to overwhelming environments and illnesses at a late stage in their lives.
Gianna Zimmerman is not one of those people. She owns Garfield, an 18-year old cat, who like many older cats, has lost some flexibility and has difficulty grooming himself and staying clean. For cats, cleanliness is a high priority, and it's both mentally and physically stressful for them to be unable to do so.
Zimmerman is well aware of Garfield's needs, and she wanted to share how she cares for her cat with the world. Not only did she want to show the importance of caring for an elderly animal but she also wanted to let viewers know how easy the process can be.
In particular, Zimmerman wants people to understand that by taking extra care of older pets, you can eliminate the "smelly pet" complaint that often arises, and that is one reason many older pets are surrendered to shelters. Older pets need help taking care of themselves because they just can't reach the places they were once able to reach.
Zimmerman created a video of how she cleans Garfield and posted it to Youtube. "I wanted to do this video for a while cause a lot of people may not even realize they need to be washed as they are too old to wash themselves," Zimmerman states at the beginning of the video.
Zimmerman's process is a simple yet effective one. She uses a wet cloth that she has soaped up lightly, squeezes out excess liquid, then she gently massages Garfield all over with the fabric. She points out that cats can't reach many areas that they used to when they were younger, including the genitals and anus. "[Garfield] really loves to be cleaned," says Zimmerman, "because he can't do it himself anymore."
Garfield is gently lifted up and turned around so that Zimmerman can clean his other side. She carefully cleans each paw to make sure no feces or other dirt are trapped between Garfield's toes. She also points out how she supports him with her hand throughout the entire experience.
Garfield's spa treatment ends with a gentle massage with a clean cloth. "This is basic your elderly care for a cat," Zimmerman says. "I mean, you wouldn't leave your mom laying around in her poop either, would you?"
The process takes roughly five minutes. "Your cat will love you for it," Zimmerman says as she dries off a very calm and relaxed Garfield. She follows up the cloth massage with a comb-through where she focuses on the areas where fur most commonly become matted, knotted, and painful.
Garfield is treated as all elderly pets should be treated: with love, compassion, respect, and dignity. Please share Zimmerman's video with anyone you know who has an older cat who might need some extra TLC, and with your friends and family on Facebook.