It’s hard to resist the adorable friskiness of a kitten. Furthermore, what infuses a home with good feelings better than a new life? People also like the idea of adopting a kitten because the cat doesn’t come with any “baggage” in the form of mistreatment or neglect somewhere else. You’re not starting out with potentially “damaged goods.”
We get that. But there are so many reasons to adopt an older pet, not the least of which is that you might literally be saving a life. Older cats are the hardest for shelters and rescues to place, and shelters that don’t turn away any animals continually have to make room for new ones.
The benefits aren’t only for the cat, however. There’s much to recommend a new older cat in your home.
- The cat you see is the cat you’ll have. While a kitten’s personality is developing and his temperament might be hard to deduce, an older cat has been who he is for a long time. You’ll be able to figure out fast whether you’ve got a lap cat or a prowler — or both.
- Difficult traits will be attenuated. By the time a cat is 10 or 11 years old (but may still have a good 10 years left to bond with you), scratching the furniture and pushing things off counter tops probably isn’t going to be as frenzied and insistent as it may have been when the cat was younger. Like people, many cats mellow as they head through their golden years.
- You won’t have to teach an older cat the ropes. An aged cat knows how to use the litter box, understands about the hiding places and cozy spots you have created for him, and has probably already used a scratching post. That is, he has had experience living in a home. This won’t be his first living-with-people rodeo.
- If your lifestyle is on the quiet side with set routines, an older cat will probably fit right in. As cats grow older, they settle in more comfortably, taking a lot of naps and snoozing cozily as you go about your daily life. Similarly, a senior cat may be less likely to bat you on the head at 5 am every morning because he wants his food, stomp all over your newspaper as you are trying to read it, or climb up the lace curtains on your living room window.
- Neutering or spaying, an entire series of vaccinations, deworming — these things are probably not going to be necessary in a newly adopted cat older than 10 years old. Yes, you’ll have to take him to the veterinarian for check-ups and periodic vaccinations, but you won’t be starting from scratch.
If you must bring home a kitten, then that’s what you should do. We support the decision. But if you can open your heart and home to a feline who may have known security but has lost it, it will bring its own rewards.