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Will You Have Fewer Cats When You Become a Senior?

I'm concerned about my cats' care when I'm gone so will probably have fewer when I'm older.

Catherine Holm  |  Sep 1st 2015


We’re all getting older, and some of us are farther along that path. Many of us have a cat or cats. They are wonderful companions throughout life, but some people worry that their cats will outlive them. This is a valid concern.

As we get older and closer to being a senior citizen, we have a growing awareness of our own mortality. We may, consciously or not, begin to put things in order. Wills might become more important, or at least more in the forefront of our minds. Leaving behind pets is another concern that weighs on us as we get older.

Believe it or not, this is something I think about often, even though I am “only” in my 50s. I used to have a lady friend who was quite old and who loved cats. She had one cat when I last was with her, and the lady said that when that cat passed, she would not get another. She was afraid of the cat outliving her and no one being able to take care of the cat. Yet this lady was lonely. Her husband had passed years ago, her kids were far away, and she had mobility issues. Having a cat at home greatly enhanced her life and gave her a friend during the day and companionship to look forward to.

For the practical person (I am probably not one of these people), planning ahead so that there aren’t pets in the household as you get older might make sense. Hopefully, this is done through natural attrition, if possible, and not intentional abandonment. And it’s not always so cut and dry. Anyone who has worked in or walked through a shelter knows that animals are often surrendered because an elderly or infirm guardian passes on, goes into assisted living or a nursing facility, or can no longer take care of their pets for some reason.

On the other hand, our senior years might the time of life when cat companions are most needed!

What a sterile place our household would be without our cats. They give us a reason to laugh, they provide the impetus for some of us to keep going. They provide us with the necessity to establish a routine of pet care. In return, they give us immeasurable love and joy.

It seems to me that many older folks are already going through loss on a lot of levels. Health and bodies may be failing. Friends or partners may be ill or have passed on. Old age can be lonely in a society that doesn’t always value or facilitate the contributions of older people. For these people, a pet could mean the difference between a sad and lonely life and a life filled with purpose and joy. Of course, I recognize that we’re not all the same. Many folks have the spunk and fortitude to create a great life at any age. But for some people, caring for a beloved pet greatly enhances the quality of their life.

These Catster articles give details on how to put together a long term plan or a will for your cat, should you pass before your cat does: “5 Tips on a Long-Term Care Plan for Your Cat if You’re Not Around” and “Are You Putting Your Cat in Your Will?” It bears repeating – we can pass at any time; we don’t need to be old. Make a plan.

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He’s just a young cat now, but I want to make sure he’s provided for, should I leave the world before he does.

Will you trim your numbers if you have multiple cats, cease having cats, or go on as usual? Personally, I honestly don’t know at this point. But knowing myself, I think it is likely I will have at least one cat or more likely a few when I pass on. I can’t imagine life without cats, and I treasure their friendship and love. I suspect that I won’t have six cats, as I do now, unless I’m in great shape with no physical ailments. I owe it to my cats, however many I have when I leave the world, to provide for them in the best way possible.

What are your thoughts? Will you have less or no cats as you get older? Tell me in the comments.

More by Catherine Holm:

About Catherine Holm: Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.