Adopting a Senior Cat

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

25 September 2016

A kitten is the most adorable thing ever created, and even if you tell your kids otherwise, deep down, you know it’s true. So when you’re looking at adopting a cat, it’s only natural that you might gravitate towards these irresistible fuzzballs. But take a deep breath, look away from their gorgeous little eyes and ask yourself - is a kitten really right for you? Can you handle their manic energy? Or would the calm, stately demeanour of an elderly cat not be better? We think you’ll find the case for an older cat pretty compelling.


Look back to your younger days and try not to cringe at all the silly things you did as a teenager. Now look back even further, to your childhood. Why did you put those rocks in your mouth? Or eat your mother’s contact lenses? Or scream until you passed out? Think about how your parents felt watching you smear mud into your hair, and you know roughly what it’s like taking care of a kitten.

Meanwhile, an older cat is you now. A little jaded, a little embarrassed of its youth. But better for all those mistakes: they know your phone charger is not the tasty chew-toy it appears to be. Older cats are more calm, spending more time in sleep than in mischief. The vast majority of shelter cats aren’t problem cats - they are perfectly healthy, sociable felines who have found themselves unwanted or unwelcome in their old home through no fault of their own.


A kitten may be cute now, but there’s really no telling what kind of cat they’ll grow into. Your friendly little cuddlebug may turn into a territorial sprayer overnight. Meanwhile, an older cat is an open book - what you see is what you get. Don’t worry about them suddenly changing on you, that would be immature.


Really, senior cats have just figured this whole ‘cat’ business out by now. They know how to use the litterbox (as a toilet, and not a bed), how to attend to the scratching post (not your favourite sofa) and how to groom themselves with due care. Additionally, contrary to popular wisdom, adult cats are more patient and polite companions to children. Let’s face it, kids can be jerks, and an adult cat will be more tolerant of their groping hands, and better at getting out of a sticky situation when your toddler decides to test whether cats really land on their feet.


Shelter cats (particularly those from the RSPCA) are well-prepared for adoption. That means they’ve been appropriately vaccinated, desexed and microchipped. Which means more money to spend on toys, treats and a nice sunny enclosure.


As lovely as senior cats are, most people looking to adopt are simply too smitten by kitten cuteness to really consider their options. Elderly cats are far less likely to be adopted than kittens, and yet are more likely to be put up for adoption. Most of them are were given up because the owners moved, or were allergic, or were simply sick of having a pet. The unfortunate result is that many of these wonderful felines live out their final days in a shelter, awaiting euthanisation. If you adopt a senior cat, you are giving it the chance to live out the rest of its life in happiness and comfort. In short, you are doing a wonderful thing.

If you’re looking for more information on caring for elderly cats, click here. Or, if you want more information on adopting a cat, check out our guide.


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