Woman gives sheltered 26-year-old cat a new home

(FOX NEWS) - 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."

Experts say healthy domesticated cats typically can live up to 20 years.

Cassiday, 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, bringing her cat total to seven.

The AARF considered putting Thomas up for adoption, but 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."

According to the shelter, Thomas has severe dental disease, arthritis, hyperthyroidism and an abnormal liver. A veterinarian also found that the elderly cat has a mass that could possibly be a tumor.

"We honestly have no idea how much longer he even has," Cassiday said. However, he's "otherwise in fairly decent shape for an old man."

Most prospective pet owners strolling into shelters are seeking a younger animal who a family can 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 into adoption, 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."

Those who would like to donate toward Thomas' medical care can do so here.

Those interested in following Thomas' journey can follow his Facebook page, The Adventures of Thomas the 26-year-old Cat.

Thomas also has an Amazon wish list that can be found here.