When Alisa Morris adopted a kitten that she named Caterack in the summer of 1979, she had no idea that the 5-week-old ball of fluff who was blind in her left eye would still be staring back at her some 30 years later. "Feral cats were born around my mother's house, and there was one she begged me to take from her," says Morris, an abstract artist. "She said 'there is something special about this one.' " She wasn't kidding. The indoor cat, who Morris says is now 30 years old, lives a simple life with her owner and her husband, Jim Wesbrooks, in a three-bedroom house in Midlothian, Texas. Though she can't hear very well and only has vision in her right eye, Caterack is still mobile, though sometimes shaky on her feet, and enjoys life to the fullest — and likely could be among the oldest housecats in the world."I exercise in the house and she comes in ... If I put the stereo on loud enough, she reacts," says Morris. "She'll let me do lifts with her and I don't go around in circles because I don't want to make her nauseated. But she gets right in the middle of it."Unlike most cats, Caterack enjoys confrontations with the vacuum. "When I've got the vacuum cleaner running, she comes to that. She does like it because she can hear it," she says. Morris, who "celebrates and thanks God every day Caterack is here," takes special care to make sure her senior pet is comfortable in her old age. "She let's me hold her and brush her. I brush her every day and I watch TV and I hold her," she says, adding that the cat loves to lay on jeans. "She'll let you do anything to her."
What's the secret to the cat's longevity? Nothing special that Morris can think of. The cat has dined on Purina Cat Chow most of her life, until recently when Morris switched her to wet food because she was having trouble chewing. "I've had to go to the little package stuff that's wet," she says. "That's the only thing that she can get down."
The oldest cat ever recorded was a 38-year-old feline named Creme Puff, according to a rep from Guinness World Records. The cat, who was born in 1967, lived with her owner Jake Perry in Austin, Texas, before passing away in August 2005. This past August, the Burnley Expressnewspaper ran a story about Tizzie, a cat in Burnley, England, whose owners claim she is 36 years old. Some later reports suggest it could be a hoax.
Morris, who says she hasn't spent a night away from Caterack in five years, definitely worries about the day that she'll have to say goodbye to her fair-weather friend, who has been there to watch her two children (Casey, 33, and Sheree, 31) grow up and saw her through a 1981 divorce. "I've tried getting myself ready for when it's her time and I even given my okay to her if it's that time now," she says. "I told her 'it's okay, I'll be okay.'"
A fixture in the family, the cat's longevity has been a topic of conversation over the years. In a phone call Morris had with her ex-husband's wife recently, "She said, 'That cat is still alive? Man, that cat is old!' "If Caterack is the oldest living domestic feline, she still has no seniority over her housemate, a 7-year-old calico named Chloe. "The younger one," says Morris. "Is the boss."