If you’re thinking about adding a new feline friend to the family, you’ve probably been tempted by the idea of getting a kitten. While kittens can be fun, they are also a lot of work. Older cats are generally much easier to handle, and there are many other great reasons to welcome a senior cat into your home.
You Know Their Personality
What most people don’t realize is that kittens are like babies, and their true personalities won’t be fully developed until they reach maturity at about 2 or 3 years of age. When you adopt a senior cat, you pretty much know what you’re getting. If the cat is extremely friendly it will likely be that way the rest of its life, barring trauma or illness.
That said, it is good to keep in mind that many animals will not act like themselves in the shelter environment. If a cat has lived with one family its entire life and suddenly finds itself in a loud, busy shelter, chances are they will be overwhelmed and either withdraw or lash out, which might not be their normal personality.
Be sure to ask shelter staff about which cats they think would be the best fit for your home, and take their advice into consideration. Most staff members know the animals in their care very well and will be able to point you in the right direction.
You’ll Make a Bigger Impact
No matter what age the cat you adopt is, you will be saving a life, but adopting a senior cat specifically will make a huge difference in that animal’s life. Kittens tend to get adopted quickly, while older cats are left waiting (sometimes for years) for the right home to come along.
Some cats who have been in shelters for a prolonged period of time can get stressed or depressed, and it’s a downhill battle from there for staff to keep them thriving. A depressed cat will often stop eating and refuse any specialty foods offered to them. The sooner an adult cat can get out of the shelter and into a home, the better.
Senior Cats are Calmer
Kittens are [adorable] maniacs. They get into everything, climb everything they can, pounce on your feet and enjoy exploring everything in the world, sometimes a bit too much. On the other hand, adult cats are much more laid back, and they’re more likely to sleep through the night instead of bouncing off your head like it’s a trampoline at 2 a.m. They are more interested in napping at your feet than chasing the lights from passing cars across the room and generally don’t need as many toys or games to keep them occupied (that said, all animals need enrichment!).
Senior Cats Might Come in Pairs
If you are open to adopting two cats, ask shelter staff if they have any bonded pairs. Pairs of cats frequently enter a shelter together when their owners pass away or move. Pairs can be hard to adopt out together, but many of these cats will stop eating without their best friend around to keep them company. Alternatively, many kittens must be adopted out in pairs if you don’t have a resident cat, and an older cat might be comfortable being adopted out solo.
Senior Pets Are Grateful
In some cases, adult cats tend to bond more closely with their new people than kittens, and it’s possible that this is because they are grateful to have a stable home and a loving environment. Animals can feel stress and uncertainty in shelters and recognize that their lives immediately improve when they find a new home. They will likely associate you with their rescue and love you dearly for it.
Adopting a senior cat is a great way to have an amazing animal without having to put in the work of raising a kitten. Look for a shelter in your area to find a cat that speaks to you and don’t be afraid to visit several times before making your final decision.