Retired Friends started in January 1996 because it took me two years to place a very nice, very beautiful Somali ... all because he was not a kitten. Tarantara's Captain Kidd finally did find a wonderful home, but the memory of trying to convince people that an adult cat was as good a friend as a kitten stuck with me.
As I started the service, it also became clear to me that some cats had special situations that needed addressing. Some had medical problems that would need some maintenance, but otherwise they'd lead happy and normal lives. Some were much older than the usual rehoming candidate. Some had been rescued from bad situations and needed some special TLC. I started with Special Friends for those with medical conditions because I wanted to make sure these conditions were disclosed up front, so everyone went in with their eyes open. Rescued Friends started soon after, and Senior Friends was the last addition to the program.
Out of everything I have ever done with the FBRL, I feel most strongly that Retired Friends has made a significant contribution to the world of cats. It's not just because the service has placed so many cats directly -- more than 200 cats every year -- but because, if nothing else, it has raised awareness at what great pets adult cats can make. The fact that there are now so many "copycat" services out there, the fact that so many people now use the term "retired friend" to refer to retired show cats, means that it's been more successful than I could have dreamed. Before Retired Friends, many people didn't even know adopting an adult pedigreed cat was even an option. Now, far more are aware and even seeking out adults on purpose. If the service never achieved anything further than that, I would consider the FBRL a complete success.