Maryland woman gives sheltered 26-year-old cat a new home

A 26-year-old cat is getting a new lease on life after a foster home decided to "take a chance" on the cuddly pet.

The elderly cat, named Thomas, was surrendered to the Baltimore County Animal Shelter in Baldwin last month after its owner was no longer able to take care of the animal.

At the ripe age of 26 with "several senior" health issues, a cat like Thomas usually wouldn't be an easy sell — "older pets typically sit for a lot longer" — so when Laura Cassiday with Animal Allies Rescue Foundation (AARF) saw the shelter's Facebook post about Thomas, she said she knew she had to take in the cat.

"Pretty much when I saw '26' I knew there was no way I was leaving him there," Cassiday told Fox News. "I coordinated with AARF and picked him up on Thursday."

Laura Cassiday said that as soon as she heard Thomas was 26 years old, "I knew there was no way I was leaving him there."

Laura Cassiday said that as soon as she heard Thomas was 26 years old, "I knew there was no way I was leaving him there." (Laura Cassiday)

Healthy domesticated cats typically can live up to 20 years, experts have said.

Cassiday, also a volunteer with The Feline Rescue Association and the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said Thomas has joined her beloved family, which now includes a total of seven cats.

While the AARF considered putting Thomas up for adoption, Cassiday said that the 26-year-old "deserves some stability at this point" and will be a part of her family "for the rest of his days."

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The animal shelter said Thomas has "severe dental disease, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and an abnormal liver" and a veterinarian found that the elderly cat has a mass that could possibly be a tumor, so, Cassiday said, "we honestly have no idea how much longer he even has." However, he's "otherwise in fairly decent shape for an old man."

Most prospective pet owners who stroll into shelters are looking for a younger animal, one that a family could keep around for a while, Cassiday told Fox News.

"Pretty much every day at work I hear, 'Where are the puppies, kittens?'" she said. The older animals, who often have medical issues, are looked over "in favor of cuter, younger ones."

Those looking to adopt pets, Cassiday says, should "take a chance" on the animals you wouldn't expect yourself to adopt.

"The shy ones, the old ones, the ones that hide in the back of their cages, the ones that just don't stand out," Cassiday notes, are "the ones that need you the most and have just as much love to give as any other pet."

For those who'd like to donate toward Thomas' medical care and follow his story, the rescue's website and Thomas' Facebook page at "The Adventures of Thomas the 26-year-old Cat" have more information.