Already have an account?
Get back to the

Animal Society Worker Provides Comfort To Senior Cats: ‘They Still Have A Lot Of Love To Give!’

After Jessica Vigos took in one elderly cat, she was inspired to create a sanctuary to give a second chance to even more sick and senior cats

Jessica Vigos sighed in relief when she finally scooped up the feral, senior cat a friend had told her was living behind an empty house on her block (just one of many senior cats on the streets). The Holladay, Utah animal society worker’s heart went out to the half-starved Siamese that weighed less than 4 pounds. “She called him Sweet Rick,” a neighbor said of the deceased homeowner, who had been feeding the cat. After the woman died, the stray didn’t trust anyone else.

Jessica had the cat checked out by a vet, who discovered Sweet Rick was at least 18 years old, half blind and nearly deaf. He was also already neutered. “Somebody loved you at one time,” Jessica said. “What you need right now is a second chance.”

Life-changing decision

Jessica knew all about second chances. As a young, stressed-out single mom, she had gotten involved with drugs. Things got so bad, she finally asked her mom to take in her daughter. And then she got arrested. But instead of jail time, the judge sent Jessica to a drug rehab center to give her a chance to turn her life around.

MUST-READ: One Woman Provides Service Dogs For Veterans: “They Help Save Lives!”

Jessica took advantage of her second chance and completed the program. She lived in a sober living house with her daughter for a year, found a great job, then a new home. She also returned to her lifelong passion — volunteering to help care for unwanted animals.

Jessica is passionate about helping senior cats
Jessica is passionate about helping senior cats

Jessica arranged for animal adoptions, and netted strays to be neutered and released to control population. But she knew from experience Sweet Rick would never survive in the wild. And if she took him to the shelter, his chances of being adopted were nonexistent.

You deserve better, she thought, and made the decision that would change the trajectory of her life again—she took Sweet Rick home!

Jessica isolated Sweet Rick in her finished basement for several days so he could regain his strength. Then she introduced him to her current cats, Louis and Gucci. The three got along famously, and Sweet Rick enjoyed his final years in luxury and comfort.

But there were so many other cats Jessica knew would never leave the shelter for a new home: Senior cats who had outlived their people, cats with disabilities or chronic maladies. Jessica couldn’t save them all, but she could try to help.

TLC helps heal kitty Lillian’s heart after losing her human
TLC helps heal kitty Lillian’s heart after losing her human

Sanctuary of love for senior cats

Jessica transformed her basement into a sanctuary, setting up three rooms with isolation areas, equipped with comfy chairs, cat toys and trees, feeding areas and litter boxes. Then she began taking in cats and kittens in danger of languishing unloved, or even worse. After a few days of adjustment, they were given free run of her house — including access through a pet door to the back “catio” to get some sun and fresh air.

All of the cats, like Hazel, are given a comfy bed, nourishing food, toys and even access to a sunning “catio”
All of the cats, like Hazel, are given a comfy bed, nourishing food, toys and even access to a sunning “catio”

In 2018, Jessica turned her makeshift rescue into a formal nonprofit called Whiskers ( Seriously ill and feral animals, who are unable to be socialized, are given a home for life. For others, Whiskers is just a stop along the way. Former house cats who just need time to recover from illness or injury are fostered, medically treated and cleared, then offered up for adoption at monthly Petco events.

Jack and others with medical needs get the care they need
Cats with medical needs, like Jack, get the care they need

MUST-READ: ‘Koda the Fluff’: This Convertible-Driving Pup Is Changing Lives One Smile at a Time

“No one wants to adopt a cat knowing they’ll have to shell out thousands for medical and dental bills, so we take care of all of that first,” says Jessica. “We can also educate prospective new families about special diets and how some of our adoptees need to remain exclusively indoor cats.”

Whiskers helps others, like Riley, get adopted
Whiskers helps some senior cats, like Riley, get adopted

Between the Whiskers home sanctuary and a collection of foster homes, Jessica and almost 25 volunteers house and care for nearly 100 stray and unwanted cats at a time. Their work is supported by fund­raisers and a few generous donors who help with food, medicines and discounted ­veterinary care.

“These cats still have a lot of love to give,” says Jessica, who recently celebrated 15 years of sobriety. “Just like me, all they need is a ­second chance.”

For more sweet stories about furry friends, keep reading…

Inspired By Her Rescue Pup, Woman Creates a Sanctuary for Hundreds of Senior Dogs

Meet the 4-Pound Dog Born With a Cleft Palate That Comforts Other Sick Animals

The Hero Pups Program Is Giving Our Country’s Heroes a New ‘Leash’ On Life — Here’s How

Circle of Love: This Hero Dog Alerted His Family to a Fire and Saved Lives — And Then Students’ Donation Saved His Life

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.