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We Spoke To A Toronto Family About Pet Adoption & Why Local Animal Shelters Are So Important

"I would absolutely do it again. I would always go with a senior cat."

Here's Why This Toronto Family Adopted A Senior Cat With Asthma
Courtesy of Young Pak-Ward, Courtesy of Royale

Shelters are full of older cats and dogs waiting for a second chance at a happy life. Though there are many senior animals in need of adoption across Canada, these four-legged friends aren't typically the first pick for families.

Instead, Canadians looking for a new furry companion will often visit their local pet store or an online marketplace in search of a cute and cuddly puppy or kitten. But senior animals need homes just as badly, and there are a lot of reasons to consider adopting one — like the fact that some of the most loyal and loving companions can be found in shelters.

To shine a light on the benefits of adopting pets, especially elderly ones, Royale started the Home for Every Pet Project. Since launching in 2020, the Royale Home for Every Pet Project has invested over $225,000 in partner animal shelters.

This year, they released a collection of five stories, including the story of Young Pak-Ward and her cat, Soya, to help raise awareness of the joys of pet adoption.

For Young, an animal lover who lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters, elderly pets being overlooked for adoption was a genuine concern.

"A lot of people are purchasing pets through classified ads and I just feel like that's a red flag to me because you don't know where these kittens are from or if they've been stolen, or if they're mating the cat just to produce kittens," Young told Narcity.

Despite having the option to bring a kitten home, Young chose to adopt an older cat through the Toronto Humane Society and that's how Soya, a 13-year-old Siamese mix with asthma, found her perfect family.

Young suspects that Soya had been in foster care for a while because she was a senior cat. "At 13, she was probably overlooked. But I would absolutely do it again. I would always go with a senior cat," she explained.

Soya's story is just one of many that show the need for pet adoption across Canada. According to a 2019 report from Humane Canada™, more than 100,000 cats and dogs end up in the country's animal shelters every year.

To raise awareness for the cause, Soya, along with four other adopted pets, can now be found on Royale's packaging, in place of the iconic white fluffy kittens. Additionally, when you spend $20 or more on Royale products from now until October 13, Royale will donate $5 to its 100+ animal shelter partners and reward you with a $5 coupon.

In this interview with Narcity, Young talks about her family's experience adopting Soya, the importance of animal shelters, the benefits of adopting senior pets, and the positive impact Soya has had on her family.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Can you tell Narcity readers a bit about yourself and your family?

"My name is Young Pak-Ward. When we adopted Soya, we had a video rental store but we closed that down and we are thinking of opening up a pet store. Ultimately, because of our love for cats and dogs, I think a pet store is the best way to go. My husband is in construction and I have two kids in school."

Can you explain how you met Soya and why you decided to take her in?

"She is 13 years old and she is a Siamese mix. She does have asthma so I have to give her a puffer every day and she's on a medication called prednisolone. She came with that ailment when I adopted her. She gets one pill a day and the puffer ... And now I'm so much wiser that cats with asthma [are] no big deal.

"We originally shared the story of my cat, Figaro, with the Royale Home for Every Pet Project. He came from the Toronto Humane Society, was 14 years old and had FIV, which is like HIV for cats, and stage four liver disease. He died literally the day before we got the approval for taking part in the campaign.

"We were just devastated and I said, 'I really want people to know about the need to adopt senior cats,' so we put in an application right away to the Toronto Humane Society to kind of help us with our grief. We saw Soya right away and she looked like she could have been Figaro's sister.

"She was also a senior cat, and I know senior cats get overlooked all the time. We wanted to give Soya the best life she could possibly have."

Courtesy of Young Pak-Ward

What was the adoption process like?

"Royale and the Toronto Humane Society helped me go through the process during COVID-19. It was online through Zoom calls and I managed to get Soya within a couple of months.

"She was quite shy. Soya took her time to bond with us but it's incredible. She's just the loveliest cat. I could not have chosen a better cat. She's an indoor cat. All she does is walk back and forth, eat, do her business and just wants to be cuddled.

"Ironically, we're not cat people. We've always had dogs. Figaro was our very first cat. The backstory to that was our neighbours had kittens. I have two young girls and they wanted a kitten, so my husband said, 'Absolutely not, because kittens will always find homes. If you want a cat, you have to go to the Toronto Humane Society and adopt a cat.' So that's what we did."

How do your other pets get on with Soya?

"I don't think she ever met a dog before being adopted but she and my dog got along just fine. I couldn't have asked for a better cat."

Courtesy of Young Pak-Ward

In your opinion, what sort of an impact can Torontonians make within the animal community if they considered adopting pets instead of purchasing or breeding?

"Toronto Humane Society is a reputable place and I think it's important to support our local animal shelters because there are so many cats and dogs that are overlooked because of their age or whatnot.

"I think adopting is the right thing to do because we're supporting these shelters. They do such wonderful work and have vets that take care of these cats and dogs prior to adoption.

"With this whole COVID-19 situation, a lot of people are looking to bring a pet into their homes, and I can honestly say Soya has brought so much joy to our home. And that's why my heart is with animal shelters and that's why I support them — that's actually probably where we'll get our next dog. I'm a big supporter of adoption. I just think it's the right thing to do.

"These dogs and cats are so loyal because they're grateful that you've taken them in. I just feel like the dogs that I've adopted, they've just had this sense of loyalty, like, 'Thank you so much for adopting me.' They live a great life."

Do you have any last words about the Royale Home for Every Pet Project?

"I really believe in it and I think the campaign that they're doing is an incredible thing, donating $5 to animal shelters for every $20 of Royale product purchased. It's a big company and they're doing such a wonderful thing that they don't even have to do but they want to do because obviously, they love animals as well.

"When I went to go buy the Royale toilet paper with Soya on the front, I got a $5 off coupon for spending $20 or more on Royale products and they donated $5 to animal shelters. I posted it to all of my friends on Instagram and Facebook to tell them to do the same thing because it's an amazing campaign and I hope they continue to do this.

"It's amazing to see your cat on the Royale packaging. I felt like she was a celebrity and I just felt so proud and so much joy to see her on there. I love the fact that it's not a kitten on there, it's a senior — a 13-year-old cat with asthma — it's a great cause. It's wonderful."

Courtesy of Young Pak-Ward

If you're inspired by Soya's story, you can help Royale's initiative to spread awareness about the 100,000 cats and dogs that are in need of adoption across Canada by spending $20 on Royale products.

From now until October 13, Royale will reward you with a $5 coupon and make a $5 donation to one of more than 100 partner animal shelters across the country.

You can also support the Royale Home For Every Pet Project by donating to your local animal shelter, volunteering at your nearest SPCA, sharing Royale's campaign to drive awareness or, if you can, adopting a pet in need.

To learn more about the Royale Home for Every Pet Project, visit the website or follow Royale on Instagram and Facebook.