Should Your Next Cat Be a Senior Citizen?

Advantages to bringing home an older pet.


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.


  1. I have 5 cats and all are seniors. They were born together and have lived together all their lives . They still play together and sleep with me in my recliner and my bed. I’ve had my share of kittens and they are fun,but older cats are are great as well.

  2. I adopted a cat estimated to be about 9 years old. He had been in a rescue facility for a long time prior to that. He is about 13 now. I have to say, his personality has continued to develop in the time that I’ve owned him. He is far less fearful and very loving, even to my dogs. I like to think that his feeling safe and loved has led to that, all for the better.

  3. We adopted an eight-year-old cat (eight years ago) after her person died. She looked so miserable and confused to find herself in a shelter. She’s been a joy. I’m a senior and I see too many stories from cat rescues that I support about older cats losing their homes because their people go into nursing homes or pass away. I plan to only adopt senior cats now for that reason. I know there are no guarantees in life but I want to make it less likely that any cat of mine will outlive me.

  4. As an adult, my first cat (unbeknownst to me) was 14 when I got him. Mickey lived to 22 and for him – and my mother – I started a Senior Cats for Senior Laps at the local SPCA. Reduced adoption fees, two vets visit in first year and promise to take Fluffy back if adopter died. There have been some adoptions and also the fund is used for medical treatment for brought in seniors so they will be more adoptable. What do you think ?

  5. Great Idea Linda.
    We have currently three cats, two where strays and one also from a elderly Lady, who could not take care of her no more.


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