adoption

The Joys of Adopting an Older Cat

Buckley at the Middleburg Animal Hospital

Older cats are often overlooked in shelters filled to the brim with cute kittens and young adults. However, an older cat can make a purr-fect companion for many reasons.

In my years of working with cats, I’ve always been drawn to older cats, especially the really old ones with their graying muzzles and eyes filled with the wisdom of the world.  My own experience of adopting an older cat came with Buckley, who was most likely somewhere between eight and ten years old when I fell in love with her.   Even though she was only with me for three short years, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a single moment.

I adore my two girls who are barely  more than kittens. I adopted Allegra a little over a year ago, when she was seven months old, and I adopted Ruby less than two months ago at nine months of age. I wouldn’t trade the experience of watching Allegra grow into a beautiful young lady these past twelve months, or Ruby’s joyful kitten exuberance for the last two for anything,  but there were times, especially after Amber died, when I thought back fondly to the many joys of living with an older cat.

Avoid the kitten craziness

When adopting a senior cat, you avoid the kitten craziness phase.  While it’s fun to watch a kitten play and race through the house, remember that the playing and racing can happen at all hours, including at 3am, when you want to sleep.  Additionally, kittens can be hard on your home furnishings.  To a kitten, the whole world is a toy, which can lead to the destruction of anything from carpets to furniture to favorite family heirlooms.

Senior cats are already spayed or neutered and litter box trained

A senior cat is already spayed or neutered, and in most cases, litter box trained.  He will most likely be current on all vaccinations, and may even come with a complete health history.

What you see is what you get

With a senior cat, what you see is, for the most part, what you get when it comes to temperament and personality.  One caveat:  if you meet your potential older family member in a shelter setting, make some allowance for the fact that the cat may be stressed or frightened.  Ask to spend some time with the cat in a quiet area, if possible, to get a better sense of her true personality.

Older cats make great pets for seniors

A senior cat can be a wonderful choice for senior citizens who might hesitate to adopt a cat because they’re afraid the cat might outlive them.  Older cats often wind up in shelters because their owners died, and there were no relatives or friends who would give them a new home.  Bringing a senior cat whose owners died and a senior citizen looking for a feline companion together could be a match made in heaven.

A senior, or at least slightly older, cat could be a better choice for a family with young children than a kitten.  Kittens are fragile, their tiny bodies can be easily crushed or injured, and their sharp teeth and claws may inadvertently hurt small children.

Older cats make better companions for another senior cat

A senior cat may make a better companion for an older cat who lost her companion.  Senior cats are used to the more gentle energy of a mature cat, and a kitten’s high energy and constant motion can be aggravating and stressful for them.

Consider adopting a senior cat with special needs.  Diabetic cats, cats with missing limbs or eyes, and cats with special medical needs all come with the same wonderful personalities as healthy cats, and they tend to be incredibly grateful for being adopted.  Make sure you understand the costs involved in caring for a special needs cat before making an adoption decision.

Have you ever adopted an older cat? Share your story in a comment!

Photo of Buckley when she was still my office cat at the animal hospital

 

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The top 7 things about older cats

Guest Post by Dorian Wagner

Pimp is taking the spotlight because he has taught me some very important things through the years about why older cats are fabulous. (Don’t tell him I called him “old!” He’s not old yet, just a little bit on his way…) 

Pimp is 11, and every single year he gets better and better. The longer he’s with me, the more love he shows and the more grateful I am that I have him. He’s taught me a lot in his 11 years — a lot of it recently. 

I have always adopted kittens, but I’m starting to see why older cats deserve to be adopted, too, and maybe even more. They have so much love left to give. And so without further ado… 

The Top 7 Things Pimp Wants You to Know About Older Cats

1. Old men are not dirty.
You know the stereotype about dirty old men? Doesn’t apply to older cats. He knows where his litter box is, and doesn’t need to be taught. He doesn’t raid the garbage can like rambunctious kittens and doesn’t knock over my red wine glass in a fit of flying kitten fur. 

2. A little gray is sexy.
Don’t you dare tell Pimp his gray whiskers aren’t sexy. He’s one good lookin’ older dude! Maybe he’s not quite as shiny as he used to be, but he’s just as soft as ever… and just as cute. 

3. Good food is one of the most important things in life.
(And so is good wine, but that’s for me, not Pimp. Ahem.) It’s crucial to feed your older cat good food, because their tummies are more sensitive. But seeing how much different food affects Pimp has taught me that even younger cats need good food. You are what you eat… and you want your cat to be good, right?

 4. It’s not picky, it’s “particular.”
You don’t need every toy in the world. Just because some new gadget comes out or there’s some fancy new model, it doesn’t mean that what you have isn’t perfectly fine. Some of Pimp’s favorite toys are older than his brother, Moo, and he’d rather play with them than anything new and flashy I get him. He doesn’t ask for much.

5. A comfy bed is better than any flashy toy.
Adding to #4, older cats realize that there are more important things than how many toys are in your toy basket. I used to get Pimp mice every year for his birthday, and he loved them, but lately I’ve gotten him things to make him comfy — and he uses them way more than all his toys combined! Soft beds = 20 hours a day. Fun toys = 30 minutes. (Don’t worry, he still gets tons of toys!) 

6. Peace and quiet is underrated.
Pimpy says relax. Older cats are content to just lie around, lounge and not create too much ruckus. You don’t have to entertain them (or else lose your nice curtains or favorite vase) and you don’t have to babysit them like kittens. They are easy and content to “just be”… so you can just be, too.

7. Love never stops growing.
Sure, your older cat may be done growing, and may actually be shrinking a little instead, but their heart somehow keeps expanding with more and more love. When Pimp looks at me, it’s with such love and adoration, and such happiness and sweetness. He knows he’s loved and he’ll always be taken good care of. He knows I’ll do whatever I can for him, for as long as he needs it. And he knows how lucky he is.

Older cats are extremely special. They often easily adjust to your home and don’t cause much trouble. If you have the room in your home and your heart, why not take a look at some of the senior pets in your area that need homes and go adopt one today. (Or tomorrow, Cute knows you may need a day to get their comfy bed and good food ready…)

Sure, they may need some extra care as they age (For the record – Pimp is going to live forever. I’ve already informed him of this.), but the love you’ll get in return and the fulfilling, incredible feeling you’ll get from taking care of them will give you a ton of joy.

Think of your grandma or grandpa — you would want them to be happy and comfortable in their sunset years, right? Older pets should have the same luxury!

Dorian Wagner is the creator of Your Daily Cute.

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A Senior Cat Gets a Chance at Love

Guest Post by Valerie Heimerich

Rita lived with the same owner for her whole life.  Then her owner decided she didn’t want Rita anymore and pulled the rug out from under the senior cat’s world.  The cat’s young owner had grown up alongside Rita; she was only 4 years old when the then-kitten came home.  But the young woman  decided to move in with her boyfriend and his parents, who already had one cat and didn’t want more.  She waited until three days before she was moving out and then contacted a Sacramento, CA cat rescue group.  She said she would be leaving the now 16-year-old cat behind in an empty trailer.
 
Rita was the equivalent of 80 years old in human terms.  Everyone loves a kitten, but who would want a cat that old?  

The rescue group worked hard and finally located a couple willing to take Rita in.  The couple contacted the original owner, who told them the cat had been to the vet regularly and had no health problems.   As it turned out, Rita was deaf, had partial heart and kidney failure, dermatitis, a severely abscessed tooth, and severe arthritis in her shoulders and hips.
 
But Rita was a little spitfire who refused to let those problems ruin her life.  Even with very painful arthritis, she liked to trot around, climb on things and play, and had a wonderful purr and loving personality.   After having 6 bad teeth pulled and being put on a twice-daily regime of the kitty version of morphine, Rita now gallops and romps, eats like a horse and completely rules the roost.

Rita is currently 19 years old and going strong.  Her eyesight is fading a bit and it takes her a minute or two to sit down fully, even with her arthritis medication.  But she feels so much better than she probably had in her last years with her previous owner.  Life, for Rita, is sweet.

The other cats in the household, though younger, stronger and much larger, show respect for Rita’s seniority, and she accepts their deference as her due. She has glossy, healthy fur and a real love for life.  Her new humans adore Rita and her nothing-can-stop-me-now attitude.  She has them wrapped around her little dewclaw and can get almost anything she wants from them. She snores like a freight train and it delights them. 
 
Now that is love.

Valerie Heimerich’s door has a big sign saying “SUCKER!” which is only visible to animals. She is an experienced humane educator and busy animal rescue volunteer. Visit her at sacramentocatrescue.com or by email at [email protected].  Valerie writes for examiner.com, for a list of her articles, click here.

Photos of Rita by Valerie Heimerich

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Life after Loss: Getting a New Cat

Getting a new pet after losing a beloved animal companion can be very difficult for many pet parents.  Some are able to get a new pet within days of losing the old pet, others may take months and sometimes even years, or never get another pet again. This is not a decision that anyone else can make for you – there are too many factors that play into it to allow for some easy guidelines, but perhaps, the following can provide a better understanding of the process.

Each pet is unique

First and foremost, every pet guardian knows that it’s not possible to ever replace a lost pet, but that doesn’t change the fact that to many, it still feels like that’s exactly what they’re doing when they bring another animal into their lives. It helps to remember that each and every animal is unique, and that your relationship with the new pet will probably be completely different than the one you had with your lost loved one. I’d like to think that our animals would want us to open our hearts to another; that, in fact, they are celebrating when we’ve recovered from our grief over losing them enough to even begin to contemplate  a new addition to the family.

How do you know when the time is right?

How do you know when the time is right? This varies from person to person. Just like grief is an individual journey, so is opening your heart to another animal. Don’t judge others, or yourself, if you’re not ready, or if you’re ready before others may feel that it’s appropriate.

This issue can be complicated in families where one family member may be ready for another pet, but the other is still deeply immersed in grieving the lost companion. This will require honest and caring discussions. Don’t surprise the family member who is not ready with a new puppy or kitten – rather than bringing happiness, this may complicate their grief, and it’s not fair to a new animal to come into this type of situation. Be mindful of other animals in the household who may also be grieving the loss, and think about whether a new pet would help them or whether it would add to their stress.

Think carefully about what kind of an animal you want to get. You may love a certain breed or coloring, but be aware that just because you adopt another animal that may look like your lost one, the new one will not be a carbon copy of your lost pet. He will be his own, unique personality and the two of you will form your own, unique relationship.

Do you “just know” when it’s time?

Ultimately, I believe that you “just know” when the time is right. Or, alternatively, a new animal will find you. Opening your heart to another and beginning the joyful journey of getting to know and love a new animal companion in no way diminishes the love you had for your lost pet.   Lost love and memories can beautifully coexist with new love and happiness.

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