guest post by Alexa J. Howald, FosterCat, Inc.
Oriental cultures are well known for their reverence for the elderly in their societies, but not so in the youth-oriented culture of the USA. Here, the elderly are viewed largely as superfluous at best, and useless or burdensome at worst.
This attitude toward older people naturally spills over into people’s views about companion animals, to the extent that it is often difficult to find homes for cats that are only two or three years old, let alone the truly “senior” kitties.
Especially during this time of year, “kitten mania” abounds and younger and older adult cats sit unnoticed in their cages, many facing euthanasia, even as their offspring fly out of shelter doors. People who are absolutely determined that they have to adopt a kitten seem not to consider that within 12 months that adorable kitten will become a cat and remain a cat for the rest of its life!
Hardly anyone will try to deny that kittens are cute and fun to be around. But are they the best choice as a family pet in every situation? I don’t think so and here are some of the reasons why anyone planning to adopt a feline companion ought to consider an adult or senior cat:
- When you adopt an adult cat, what you see is what you get. The cat’s personality has been formed and will essentially remain the same throughout its life. You will be able to select a cat whose personality fits your life style (Eveready Bunny or couch potato, or somewhere in between; lap cat or independent sort; comfortable in a high noise level/high activity environment, comfortable with children, other animals, etc.)
- Kittens are fun, but they tend to have very high energy levels and often love to climb and jump. If you are fussy about kitty climbing your sheers or leaping onto your dining room table or kitchen counters, and you won’t be around enough to train the kitten not to engage in these behaviors, you should consider adopting an adult cat that doesn’t have a history of these habits.
- The average lifespan of an indoor-only cat is 15 years, and many kitties with healthy diets and good veterinary care can live healthy, happy lives into their late teens and early twenties. So when you adopt a three to six year old cat, or even a 10 or 12 year old, you will likely enjoy the pleasure of its company for quite some time. And many cats continue to enjoy periods of active play well into their middle years, so those who want a friskier feline can easily find an older cat who fits the bill.
- I will no doubt be accused by some of being blunt, but if you are elderly, it just plain doesn’t make sense for you to adopt a kitten. In the first place, kittens, who love to dart about people’s legs and feet, or sprint ahead of them as they start down the stairs, can pose a real danger to folks who are already at risk of serious injury from a fall. In the second place, a kitten will likely outlive you and what will become of your beloved companion when you pass on or are no longer able to care for it? Don’t count on friends or family members taking him in, unless you know for certain that they are able and willing to do so. Based on our experience, most surviving relatives are looking for a way to dump kitty before their deceased parent or aunt is cold in the grave.
- Cats are amazingly adaptable and resilient creatures. Don’t assume that your existing cat will only accept a kitten sharing its domain. Given time and patience, nearly any cat will adapt to a new environment, or a new addition to its existing environment. In many cases, the personalities of the individual animals, more than their ages or genders, will determine the length of the adjustment period.
Felines of all ages make wonderful companions for people of all age groups and can and do bring much laughter, joy, love (and yes, sometimes frustration) to millions of families in our nation and around the world – and there are many more who need safe loving homes. If your kids are pestering you for a pet, or if you would like to have someone waiting to welcome you at the end of your day, please consider adopting a kitty. And when you do, don’t forget to spend some time getting to know the more mature felines at your local adoption agency. Chances are, one of them is waiting for someone just like you.
Alexa J. Howald
Founder and Vice President
FosterCat, Inc. is the recipient of the final auction bid on “Peaches and Peonies“. I’ve long known Alexa to be a fan of older cats, and FosterCat does so much to help rescue, foster and adopt older cats, which is why I chose them as the recipient of the donation. Visit FosterCat’s website and read about the work they do and don’t forget to browse their adoptable cats! You might see your new love there. I will also mention that I designed FosterCat’s website and all photos but the home page header photo are from my archives.