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It’s Adopt a Senior Pet Month; Have You Ever Adopted a Senior Cat?

I adopted a senior cat years ago; here's my take on why older cats are awesome adoption candidates.

Nancy Peterson  |  Nov 10th 2014


For older cats, competing against kittens for homes can be a challenge. That’s why Petfinder.com designated November as Adopt a Senior Pet Month. This month is very special to me because I adopted an older cat, Toby, from a shelter eight and a half years ago.

Here’s what happened. I was visiting a shelter in Florida to participate in the filming of a video about caring for an adopted cat. When I entered the multi-cat room and sat down, a fluffy brown cat immediately came running and jumped in my lap. He started licking my face, purring, and kneading. He seemed friendly enough so I put him in a carrier. I chose two other friendly cats as well for the video.

At the studio, I just happened to open the carrier with the fluffy brown cat first. He was happy to walk around the bathroom and check out the space. He seemed quite comfortable, so I opened the door leading to the studio. Most cats I know wouldn’t even enter an unfamiliar area or, if they did, they would be slinking around and looking for a place to hide. Not this cat. He checked out the room and walked up to everyone to say hello. As soon as I sat down, he was in my lap, licking my face, purring, and kneading. At the end of the day, all the cats went back to the shelter. I couldn’t stop thinking about the fluffy brown cat.

As soon as I woke up the next morning, I called the shelter and told them that I wanted to adopt the fluffy brown cat. It wasn’t until I got to the shelter that I learned that he was a senior cat. I didn’t hesitate one moment because he’d already stolen my heart. His adoption fee was the best $25 I ever spent.

If you want to get a cat, a shelter or rescue group is a great place to find one. Older cats are often overlooked and at greater risk of not being adopted, whereas kittens are always in demand. Keep in mind that senior cats have lots of love to share and can live and remain active to age 20 and beyond.

What makes older cats wonderful? Lots of things. Their personalities are more formed than kittens, and what you see is what you get. If a cat has a history of being a lap cat, it’s likely he’ll remain that way, whereas it’s more difficult to tell what a kitten’s final personality will be.

Unlike kittens, who get into everything if not properly supervised, older cats are typically content to just relax in your company. They’ve settled down and learned the ropes, and their attention span and impulse control makes them easier to train.

Older cats typically have lower adoption fees than kittens. In addition, caring for a kitten is work and may involve more costs in terms of vaccinations and parasite control, not to mention food. It’s amazing how much kittens eat compared to adult cats.

Older cats who are accustomed to children may be more tolerant and give warning or leave when they’ve had enough. On the other hand, a kitten who is over-handled or handled roughly may bite or scratch without a warning.

If you’re cat-less, an older cat may be a better fit for your household. Older cats are content to be couch potatoes and appreciate having you all to themselves. Kittens are best adopted in pairs so they can run each other ragged. In addition, they need the companionship and socialization provided by another cat or they may grow up unable to tolerate other cats.

If you already have a cat, especially an adult cat, and want to get another, please consider that your current cat is unlikely to enjoy the unrelenting attention of an energetic, new kitten. That makes an older cat a better choice. Nonetheless, whenever you bring a new cat into your home, the key to a harmonious multi-cat household is proper introductions.

Now that you realize that older cats make wonderful pets, why not adopt a bonded pair? You’ll save two lives, and the friendship between them will warm your heart.

Are you doing anything special for Adopt a Senior Pet Month? Let us know in the comments!

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