Tips for Adopting an Older Cat

The cuteness and antics of kittens can sometimes be irresistible. Their playful nature and cute faces provide a great attraction that usually means they get adopted easily from rescue shelters. However, there are a lot of advantages to adopting an older cat, or even a senior cat, which may be waiting for a new home.

When is a Cat an Adult?

A cat is considered an adult when she reaches one year of age. But this doesn’t always mean that the cat will stop growing. After that, most cats continue to grow slowly until they are about 18 months old.

Also, the time it takes for most cats to become a fully-grown adult depends on the breed. Some cats of large breeds may take up to two to four years to fully grow.

Benefits of Adopting an Older Cat

1. They are calm and more experienced.

Kittens are adorable, but their boundless energy might tire you out. They need to be trained, they devour food and things left on countertops, they jump on surfaces where you have important stuff, and they won’t leave you alone when it’s already time for bed or when you’re working at home. In short, they need supervision. Older cats tend to be calmer and require less supervision. Plus, they already know how to use their litterboxes and not to mess with your stuff. They can keep you company, and they can also quietly be on their own if you’re not at home.

2. They are low-maintenance.

Adopting an older cat means fewer expenses than adopting a kitten. Many older cats have already been dewormed, spayed/neutered, immunized, or even declawed. Plus, many shelters offer adoption for older cats just for free.

3. There will be no more surprises.

When adopting a kitten, you won’t know for sure what they will be like as an adult cat. But if you’re getting an adult, shelters will know everything about her, such as her behavior, whether she gets along with other cats, pets, and children. You can also know about their health condition and how they react to changes in the environment.

4. They are great for households with children.

Young children may not be able to properly handle pets because they haven’t grown into their fine motor skills yet. Your kids may unintentionally hurt kittens, but cats can handle a little rougher handling. A mature cat is more likely to put up with being yanked by her tail and still love the kid than a kitten.

5. They are perfect companions for senior citizens.

Cats are calm and relaxed animals, and they are a perfect addition to a senior citizen’s home. An older cat is far less destructive than kittens. Also, kittens would love to play all the time, and that can be taxing for a person with mobility issues.

6. They easily get along with other pets.

If you’re looking for a cat to add to your house with other cats and pets, an older cat will have an easier time adjusting to the established dynamic. A kitten can stress your older cats out, as mature cats can enjoy their routines and independence, so adding a playful and energetic kitten can be stressful for them and for you.

Tips for Adopting an Older Cat

Now that you’ve been aware of the benefits of adopting a mature cat, these are the factors to consider should you adopt one:

1. Consider cost factors.

There is a cost of adoption, which covers many services done at the shelter that may include neutering fee, a veterinary visit, distemper vaccination, rabies vaccination, flea/tick treatment, feline leukemia test, deworming, collar, and identification tag.

When you adopt a cat, the booster shots may also be required at your expense. While they are most likely neutered and sprayed when they were kittens, they may need it later. But by adopting a senior cat, you will likely be spared extra veterinary bills. However, senior cats may come with existing health conditions that require monitoring by a veterinarian. Consider all these costs before choosing a cat to adopt.

2. Consider your home situation.

While a home with active young children and other pets may seem like a good fit for a kitten, an older cat might probably be a better choice. Kittens are fragile and may sustain physical damage if they are accidentally squeezed or dropped too hard by a child. From a physical standpoint, an older cat can tolerate those situations better. Older cats are also less prone to accidents, who can avoid being tripped over or stepped on.

3. Consider the cat’s health status and issues.

Unless the shelter says so, you can assume that your cat is in good health. However, it’s a good idea to ask about the older cat’s health issues before. It’s also vital to have a vet who knows your cat that you can talk to whenever you have questions in case of an emergency.

4. Evaluate the cat’s personality before buying.

Your kitten might be very appealing in the early days, but their personalities may develop into something less engaging as they mature and grow. But by adopting an older cat, you can have a better handle on his or her personality. Older cats can also be less needy than kittens. So, if you’re considering adopting an older cat from a shelter or rescue, the staff has already done an evaluation on him. They must be able to tell you about his personality.

It’s also a great idea to spend some time alone with the cat you are considering before fully adopting her. This will allow you to make your own evaluation of the cat’s personality and whether she might be a good fit in your home.

5. Prepare your home.

Before you bring your cat home, make sure you got the essentials ready. Here’s a checklist of supplies for cats:

  • Food and water bowls
  • Litter box and scooper
  • Kitty litter
  • Cat bed
  • Crate or carrier
  • Collar
  • Brush or comb
  • Feline toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Nail clippers
  • Sponge and scrub brush
  • First-aid supplies
  • Odor neutralizer
  • Variety of toys
  • ID tag with phone number

6. Bring a basket on adoption day.

To make the cat feel safe and secure, bring a basket to the shelter with a piece of fabric on top to contain your new pet. Though your new pet is happy to have a loving home, she will be stressed out due to the change of environment. Older, mature cats require gentle handling, so don’t make any rocking or jerking movements to the basket.

When you arrive home, gently open the basket and leave your cat on her own in the area, you prepared for her. Give her time to adjust to the new environment to get used to the new and strange smells inside the house.

7. Provide a safe space for your new cat.

An older cat can easily settle to a quiet household with one or two people. But if there are children and other pets in the home, it’s best to provide a safe room for your cat where she can adjust to his new environment, new animals, and new human friends. If the cat seems stressed by the move, there are collars and calming sprays you can use to help him adapt to his new environment.

8. Check out if the cat still needs some training.

It is possible that adopted older or senior cats already know how to use a litter box, especially those who are taken care of very well in their shelters. If you’re busy and you have a busy household, a simple plus like this can make a great difference.

9. Hand feed your cat during the first weeks.

Feeding your new cat is one of the best bonding exercises you can do. Your cat will learn to trust you and see you as a safe person they can trust. It can help you establish a friendly relationship with your cat so she can ease in and adjust to her new home.

10. Don’t introduce them to children and other pets too quickly.

If you have other pets or small children in the house, do not be quick to introduce the cat to them. Give your cat some time to adjust to her new environment first before introducing her to other family members. This way, she will not feel threatened by the other pets or children who can get overly excited to meet her.