Bernard was left at a shelter when he was 20 years old.

He was taken into an experienced foster home. 

He had stopped eating.

Then, he stopped drinking.

He went into liver failure and was put to sleep.

This is the not uncommon tale of many senior cats who are left at shelters.  Bernard was lucky, actually, because he went to a foster home.  Most don't.

I don't know anything about his prior family, the excuse for surrender to the shelter just said "allergies."

Senior cats often do not cope well with losing their family.  When taken to a shelter they not only lose their family, but are placed in a noisy, strange, environment where nothing is familiar.  Many cats react to stress by not eating and not using the litter box.  Some cats will adjust to their suroundings, but the older the cat the less likely they are to adjust.  Many, like Bernard, just grieve themselves to death.

Bernard did not understand what happened to him and there was no way to explain it to him.  One day he was in his home, then next he was in a strange, loud place filled with people and animals.  He was sent to Animall in the hopes that someone would take pity on him.  He developed an upper respiratory infection, a common thing to have happen when an older cat is stressed, and stopped eating.

He was lucky.  Mom saw him on a website and asked Marleys Cat Tales to pull him to retire here at Bendy's Home.  His upper respiratory infection cleared after a few days treatment, but he still would not eat.  He was placed in the senior room, and headbonked Smokey the moment he stepped out of the carrier.  He hid much of the time under the couch.  One day he barged past mom when she opened the door to the senior room, into the main house.  We thought perhaps he would be happier there.  Where he dissappeared to for most of the day we don't know. Mom looked everywhere, used a flashlight to look behind and under everything, but never found his hiding place.

He would appear to say hello and get scritches.  He would watch the other cats eat.  He, however, refused to eat.

He refused just about every flavor of Fancy Feast.  He refused ground beef, boiled chicken, chicken broth, tunafish, tuna juice, and venison.  He refused several flavors of baby food, yogurt, goat milk, cat milk, deli meat and assorted kinds of cat treats.  He refused every kind of dry offered, from Kozy Kitten to Merrick's Before Grain, seafood flavors, poultry flavors, even some limited diet dry food.  It was all refused.

There were a few days he hung out in the home office while mom worked, on the cat tree or the desk.  Then one day he demanded back in the senior room, he crawled up into the sleeper sofa and stayed there.  Mom finally got him out, after a day, but he had gone downhill.

From then on he refused to even drink on his own.  Maybe he was tired of being syringe fed, maybe he was missing his family.  We will never know.  Despite mom's best efforts, Bernard went on to develop liver failure - which often is the result of a cat not eating - and finally he was put to sleep.

While sad, it is still kinder for him to have died held by someone who cared about him and tried her best to save him, then to have died at the shelter.

But it would have been far far kinder for Bernard's original owners to have put him to sleep themselves.  He would have been spared the stress of the shelter, being moved to yet another unknown place, and a long slow decline.

Sometimes things happen and you have to rehome your senior cat.  Talk to your vet about finding your cat a home, contact rescues who could take the cat straight into a foster home.   This will greatly increase (but not guarantee) your cat's chances of adapting.  Keep in touch with the person who took your cat in, and if the cat is not adapting please do the right thing and either find a way to keep your cat in your life or put him/her down. 

A public shelter is a death sentence to most senior cats, not because the shelters themselves don't try to care for them, but because the change is too much on these old cats.  They literally shut down and die.