There aren’t many people who fail to be entranced by the cuteness and antics of kittens. Their appealing faces and playful nature provide a great attraction that, generally, means they get adopted quite easily from shelters and rescue situations. There are, however, also many advantages to adopting an older or senior cat that may be waiting for a new home as well.
Consider Your Home Situation
While a home with active young children and other pets may seem a good fit for a kitten, an older cat would probably be a better choice, for many reasons. Kittens are fragile and can sustain physical damage if they are accidentally dropped or squeezed too hard by a child. From a physical standpoint an older cat will tolerate those situations better. In addition, older cats are generally more adept at avoiding being stepped on or tripped over, simply because they have figured out how to stay out of the way through hard experience.
What You See is What You Get
While kittens and their charms can be very appealing in the early days, their personalities may develop into something less engaging as they grow and mature. By adopting an older cat you will have a much better handle on his or her personality, needs, likes and dislikes. Older cats tend to be less needy than kittens, too.
If you are considering adopting an older cat from a rescue or shelter, the staff will probably have done an evaluation on him and be able to tell you about his personality.
It’s also a good idea to try to spend some time alone with the cat you are considering, preferably in a quiet location away from the busy-ness of the facility where he is being held. This will give you an opportunity to make your own evaluation of the cat’s temperament and whether he/she might be a good fit in your home.
When you adopt a kitten it may have its initial vaccinations, but booster shots may be required (at your expense) at a later date. Additionally, future spay or neuter expenses may fall in to your lap. By adopting a senior cat it’s highly likely that you will be spared extra veterinary bills in that vein. Senior cats, however, may come with existing health conditions that require monitoring by your vet.
Food costs are a given for any pet, of course, but be aware that an older or senior cat may have special dietary needs that require extra expenditure.
It’s entirely possible that adopting an older or senior cat will mean it will arrive at your home already trained to use a litter box. If it isn’t however, older cats tend to have a longer attention span than kittens and will catch on more quickly. If you have a busy life and a busy household, a simple ‘plus’ like this can make a great difference to your enjoyment of a new pet.
While many cats are strictly ‘indoor cats’ in this day and age, if you plan to let your new feline friend also enjoy the outdoors, you will need to think ahead. You should plan to keep your cat exclusively indoors for the first couple of weeks that he/she is with you so that it realizes that your home is now its home. When you first let the cat outdoors to explore, accompany it so that it realizes your yard is also its territory.
Provide a Safe Space for Your New Cat
An older cat will generally settle into a quiet household with one or two people quite nicely. However, if there are other pets and children in the home it’s a good idea to provide a safe room where your older cat can adjust gradually to his new environment and his new animal and human friends. Calm, gradual introductions work best under these circumstances.
If your new cat seems stressed by the move in to your home, there are calming sprays and collars on the market that may help him adapt to his new environment.
Ultimately, an older or senior cat can be one of the very best choices you can make when considering a new feline buddy, for so many reasons. They may not have the cuteness factor of a charming kitten, but they can be a great fit in many situations. And, because they tend to be less favoured by adopters, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you may have saved your new cat from euthanasia.
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