by Melissa Lapierre
I’ve lived the majority of my adult life with senior cats, and the years of love they gave me left memories that will last a lifetime.
It all started when I was 16 years old and my family rescued a neighbor’s cat that had been abandoned. Sebastian was 12 and had lived the majority of his life outside, covered in snow during cruel Vermont winters. Finally my mother had enough and when it was obvious the new neighbors he’d been pawned off onto didn’t care anymore about him than his original owners did, he “disappeared” into our house. He was only with us for a few years before succumbing to kidney disease, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that those were the 3 happiest years of his life.
The first cat I adopted as an adult was Sashi. I’ll never forget the shelter telling me how many people had commented on what a beautiful cat she was, then saw that she was 9 years old and walked away. Their loss was my gain because we had 9 wonderful years together. Even at an advanced age she never lost her playfulness, with one of her favorite games being to catch my pen with her paws or teeth while I was writing. (These were the days before computers!)
Next came Tara. She was 7 and while she was plagued with more than her fair share of health issues, I can’t help but think she was meant to be with me because far too many people would have given up on her.
I’ll be 100% honest and admit that by the time Tara passed away I was emotionally exhausted. Her last two years were incredibly stressful, and I decided that for my peace of mind I needed to adopt a young cat for once, one that I wouldn’t need to worry about every minute, one that I could look forward to spending the next 15 years of my life with.
I had Truffles for exactly 1 year, 10 months and 17 days.
Animals are just like people – age is just a number – and regardless of their age we have absolutely no control over how long we’re going to have with them, so why do we allow so many amazing animals with so much love to give sit unloved and unwanted in shelters? Of course kittens are irresistible; there’s no denying that. But I can tell you from experience that adopting a senior pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
Here are just a few reasons why you should consider an older cat the next time you’re planning to add a new family member to your home…
You know what you’re getting.
Every home has specific requirements for a new pet. By adopting a kitten, you can’t really predict how big the cat will grow, the temperament that they’ll have or how they will react to other day-to-day routines. With an older cat’s fully developed personality you’ll know right away if you have a lap cat or a more independent spirit!
They require less training.
The most obvious benefit of adopting an older cat is that they require less training than they would at a younger age. Chances are, they’re already house-trained and know how to do basic things such as use a litter tray and scratching post. Because they don’t need as much training, your senior cat will be much easier to handle than a younger one.
Their exercise requirements aren’t as demanding.
If you’ve got a kitten, you’re probably smitten with your little bundle of joy. But while they are cute balls of energy, bear in mind that you might have to spend a lot of time tending to their heightened activity levels.
They’re great companions.
Another benefit of adopting an older cat is that they make perfect companions. Compared to their kitten stages, senior cats are less energetic and require less attention. They also tend to have a calmer temperament.
Because they don’t have a demanding exercise regime and would love to curl up on your lap, they’re true feline friends – particularly for elderly people. You’re unlikely to find a better nap buddy!
Older cats are less destructive.
Unlike kittens, older cats don’t require as much attention and are usually content with lounging around the home. This means that they’re much less likely to cause damage to your home!
Fewer initial medical procedures.
Most senior kitties will have already been spayed or neutered when you adopt them. They also won’t need the large series of vaccinations and dewormings that a kitten would. That’s not to say that your new senior cat doesn’t require routine veterinary care. In fact, vets recommend bi-annual wellness visits in order to catch any health changes in their early stages.
A love like no other.
Since older cats are among the hardest to find homes for, when you adopt one you are truly saving a life. They know they’ve been rescued too, and they show their love and gratitude every single day resulting in a love and bond like no other.
Every cat deserves the comfort and safety of a loving home, regardless of their age. There’s nothing sadder than a cat getting overlooked time and time again in favor of a cute ball of fluff. Older cats have just as much love to give as a young one, possibly even more because at this point in their life they’re content to just relax in your company.
So what are you waiting for? There’s a super senior as close as your local shelter who wants nothing more than the love of a forever home just like yours!
Tell us about your senior cat
Melissa Lapierre is a Cat Writers Association Muse Medallion and Certificate of Excellence winner. She writes the cat blog Mochas, Mysteries and Meows from her home in northern Vermont alongside her beloved tortoiseshell cat (and muse) Mudpie.