Older sanctuary felines are just as loving, devoted, and fascinating as kittens but are usually the last to be embraced.
Among the 3.2 million felines entering US animal sanctuaries yearly, numerous senior cats over one decade old are tragically ignored by prospective adopters due to their age.
Dangerous misconceptions about these older animals prevent them from being chosen and sometimes result in elderly cats being the first sanctuary pets to be euthanized. Common beliefs include the belief that elderly cats are less healthy, less fun, and tougher to train.
None of these are correct, and owning older pets has numerous advantages. And because embracing a senior cat is critical to saving their lives, knowing and sharing these advantages are essential. You might not be aware of it yet, but an old cat may be the perfect match for you! If you plan to embrace a cat (or more), have a read at this blog to help you decide.
When is a cat considered elderly?
According to the AAFP or American Association of Feline Practitioners, cats between 11-14 years old are considered elderly, while senior cats are 15 years and older. For this blog, I will use these terms interchangeably.
A cat is considered mature when it reaches one year old, but this does not mean that the cat stops growing. Cats are considered adults at 9-12 months. After this, most cats will grow at a much slower rate until around 18 months old. A cat's breed can also affect the speed at which they grow; Maine Coons, for example, takes 2-4 years to mature.
It's a blessing to be chosen by a senior cat. Nothing equals the experience of taking care of a feline who has gotten ripe with age. An elderly cat speaks of the care they received over the years.
Reasons to embrace a senior cat today
You would be stunned to learn that embracing an old cat can be a fulfilling experience! Not convinced yet? Here are a few reasons to adopt a senior cat:
1. Fully grown felines are calm, competent, and skilled
Kittens are fun and adorable, but they have had limitless energy within their tiny bodies. They will not leave you alone when it's time for bed; they must be trained and eat things left on countertops. Older cats usually already experience staying at the home of other people; they know how to use litter boxes and are substantially calmer than kittens. They can keep you company or silently be happy on their own, which especially works if you're a busy person.
2. Elderly cats are more budget-friendly
It seems imprudent to put this here, but embracing an elderly feline is considerably less costly than taking on a kitten! Elderly cats are usually already spayed/neutered, dewormed, immunized, and sometimes, sadly, even declawed. (I am vehemently opposed to declawing, but that's a talk for another time!) Plus, a lot of sanctuaries offer free adoptions for elderly cats!
3. You know what you're getting
When you're embracing a kitten, you do not know what they will become as an adult. They could become a charming, fluffy heap of sweetness, or they could assault you in your rest. Among the advantages of adopting a senior pet cat from a shelter is that shelter personnel are fully aware of the personalities. Shelters will know everything about an old feline: their behaviors, whether they like to be around other pets or kids, their health conditions, and most importantly, how they respond to changes in the atmosphere.
While kittens' personalities change as they grow, elderly cats are entirely developed, making them predictable. That doesn't suggest adult cats can not learn—they can be highly adaptive!
4. Older cats are more adaptable
By the time cats are mature, they are used to experiencing new sights and sounds. These tenured fur friends adapt more quickly as a result of their calmer personalities, their familiarity with the residential environment and previous owner, as well as their experiences living with other pets.
Age is not a determining factor in a pet's affection or capacity to develop new relationships. Personnel of the shelters can also recommend ideal households for your elderly cat.
5. Lesser need for surveillance
Adult cats call for less supervision than kittens, which have learned safe and unsafe situations at their ripe age. If you have kids at home, keep in mind that every cat is unique. Some are excellent with babies or high-energy kids, while others are better with older kids who understand the concept of boundaries. Have your kids hang out with possible pets as part of the fostering process.
6. Mature felines are terrific for households with kids
Regardless of how much you teach your kids etiquette and handling of pets, they usually won't be gentle with cats since they haven't developed fine motor skills yet. Older cats can take more "rough handling" than kittens, which could react with those claws and teeth! A fully grown cat is likely to bear being pulled by the tail than a kitten would.
Older cats are perfect friends for older people, too. Older cats are an excellent addition to an older person's residence because they're calmer and less destructive than kittens. Young cats want to play all the time, which can be tiring for somebody who is not agile.
7. Mature felines get along better with other pets
If you want to adopt a cat to a home that currently has fully grown cats, an elderly cat will have an easier time incorporating itself into a well-established dynamic. Putting a kitten into the mix can stress out your older cats since the kitten is playing with them always. Mature cats love routines and freedom; interrupting the harmony at home with an energetic kitten will be incredibly stressful.
8. A fully grown cat will love you endlessly
Research has shown that adult cats show gratefulness in many ways after being embraced. They are forever thankful that you have given them a warm and welcoming home, whereas kittens cats can take the opportunity for granted.
Older cats have enormous love to give back, are much more accountable than kittens, and fit in with other pets and people exceptionally well. These are the reasons to consider adopting a fully grown cat! Embracing an elderly pet cat will enhance your life with a commitment, never forgetting your kindness.
Potential cons of adopting an older cat
There are, of course, several issues that you could run into after becoming a senior cat owner. Nonetheless, they can eventually adjust to their new home with a bit of love and perseverance!
1. Senior cats have lower energy levels
For understandable reasons, elderly cats are not as energetic as kittens and younger cats. If you want to have a fur friend to have fun with, you may find a senior cat a bit underwhelming. Instead of running about and chasing that toy mouse, older cats prefer to rest, thoughtfully look through the windows, and unwind.
2. You will have less time with your cat
An elderly feline is an old pet and may have health issues. It can be sad to think about, but instead of 15-25 years, you will have 5-10 years with your cat, depending on their age upon adoption. However, you can invest a lot of quality time and relish every moment.
Tips on Taking On an Elderly Feline
Here are some tips throughout your very first day and weeks of taking on an older cat:
The first question potential cat owners ask is always the cost to embrace a cat. Adoption cost usually covers a lot of the process done at the sanctuary, which might include:
- veterinarian health check and distemper vaccination ($ 20-30 × 2)(around $150-300)
- neutering fee (around $150-300),
- rabies vaccination ($ 15-25),
- feline leukemia test ($ 30-50),
- flea/tick treatment ($ 50-200),
- microchip ($ 50), deworming ($ 20-50), and
- collar and identification tag ($ 5-10).
A sanctuary can additionally cover a part of the fostering fee, and you will mostly end up paying between $25 and $300. Bring cash with you to the shelter and make sure you have time to fill out all the needed documents.
Prepare before you bring your new pet into the house. Shop for pet products that are specially made for elderly cats. Then, prepare a tiny space with access to food, water, a litter box, some toys, and a cozy bed that is closed on all but one side (you can use a cardboard box and put old clothes or a blanket on top).
The Day of Adoption!
Even though your new feline friend is more than happy to have a loving home, it will be stressed because of the change of atmosphere and confusion with what's taking place. If you go to the shelter, bring a basket with a piece of fabric on top to make your new pet feel safe. Older cats need gentle handling, so don't make any jerky or shaking motions to the basket.
First day in the new home
When you get back, delicately open the basket and leave the cat on their own on the are you prepared in Step 2. Leave your new alone for a couple of hours to allow them to get used to the unique setting and become familiar with the brand-new and odd scents and noises.
Hand feed your cat for the first few weeks
Feeding your cat is perhaps the most effective bonding activity you can do. Your elderly feline will learn to trust you and associate you with safety. You can also develop a unique sign that will let them know that the cat food is coming, such as tapping the plate, whistling, calling her name, or opening up a particular cabinet.
Tidy the litter box regularly
Ensure that the cat recognizes where the litter box is and that it is spacious enough and has sufficient litter. Remove clumps several times a day and note whether the cat likes the specific kind of litter for you to use.
Time for new introductions
Don't be too quick to present the new cat if you have children in the house or other animals. Provide your elderly feline time to adapt to the new environment and make introductions when no person is too excited to introduce the cat to other members of the family. If you own a dog, putting it in a cage might be a great idea during the initial introduction. That way, the cat will not be endangered by the dog that can get excessively excited to meet them.
Register the cat with a veterinarian in the area
Unless the shelter advises you otherwise, you can assume that your feline is relative. Nevertheless, it is still crucial to have a vet who knows pet wellness and health whenever you have questions or an emergency.
All pets should have secure and loving homes, but some need it more than others. Adopters should leave their assumptions at the sanctuary door and know that every animal is unique and deserving of reasonable consideration.
You can help elderly pets by adopting one or encouraging family, friends, and coworkers to keep an open mind and do the same. Bear in mind that when older pets are embraced, their lives are not just saved but restarted!
While getting a new pet is exciting, keep in mind that your elderly cat might be stressed and need time and room to adjust to their unique setting and cat parents. Patience, perseverance, and love will undoubtedly go a long way. Good luck on your journey to adopting an elderly cat!