Why You Should Adopt A Senior Cat

We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. 

Anyone who’s ever volunteered at a cat shelter knows that kittens are the easiest to find homes for. Most people seem naturally drawn to the playful charm of these active little furballs, so easy to pick up and cuddle. Older cats, and specifically senior cats, aged eight years or older, tend to wait much longer for their forever homes.

Photo Credit: Jack’s Cat Shack

While it’s not always easy to determine the exact age of cats by looking at them, there are telltale visual cues. Senior cats, especially the ones in their mid-teens or older, are often slightly thinner, have less lustrous coats and may not have all their teeth. Their gait may be less flexible or flowing, and they are overall less active compared to younger cats. It’s little wonder they don’t shine out when potential adopters show up.

Fortunately, some cat lovers do notice the elderly residents of shelters. In a recent thread on our forums, members shared touching stories about adopting senior cats, whether from a shelter or rescued off the streets. One member, Sandy Parker, known on TheCatSite.com by her username jackscatshack, makes a point of adopting senior cats in need from the local Humane Society shelter. She has built a special enclosure for these fortunate kitties, running Jack’s Cat Shack as a retirement community for aging cats in Tucson, Arizona.

The Benefits of Adopting A Senior Cat

If you plan on adopting a new feline member into your family, please consider giving these quiet cats a chance. Here are some reasons to consider:

1. Older cats have established personalities

A senior cat has a fully-developed personality. With a kitten, it’s very hard to tell if the playful little critter will end up being a recluse or a love bug; an aggressive alpha cat or a low-keyed skittish one; suitable for life with other cats, or a loner; and so on. These traits usually develop and set in during the cat’s first years. By opting to adopt a senior cat, and following the advice of shelter workers and volunteers, you have a better chance of getting a cat suitable to you and your lifestyle.

2. Older cats are more laid back

A kitten, or even a young cat, is a bundle of seemingly endless energy. Many first-time owners are overwhelmed by kittenish behavior, having to deal with a playful kitty that sinks tiny claws and teeth into every conceivable material, owner’s hands and feet not excluded.

With an older cat, you can expect far mellower behavior. Many senior cats are content with a restful nap in a warm spot, preferably near their humans, just passing the time spreading that positive calm feline aura around your home.

This is how Sandy from Jack’s Shack describes her seniors:

Most want to just lay around, eat and sleep. Some will surprise you and get a little playful now and then and most love to be pet but not to be picked up or carried around. But you can see the joy on their face when they finally realize they are in a safe place with plenty of food and affection if they want it.

3. Senior cats are well adjusted to living at home

Older cats are often set in their ways, and that can be a positive thing. They know how to use the litterbox and scratching post, and are more likely to follow your house rules and routines than a rambunctious kitten would. Aging bodies may also make the cat less inclined to jump on high counters and dining tables (but do keep an eye out for signs of arthritis, which require veterinary attention).

And don’t think you can’t teach an old cat new tricks either. Our member Nekochan shared an interesting story about Sneakers, a senior cat adopted from a neighbor at the age of ten. Through love and patience, she had not only helped Sneakers lose weight but also taught her how to stop biting when petted.

4. Senior cats can have a calming effect on children

For families with children, an older cat may be far more suitable than a kitten, allowing parents to introduce kids to the etiquette of human-feline interactions with a stable and relaxed cat. The senior cat can be a wonderful companion, soothing the child and gently accepting hours of close interactions, lending a willing, if aging, ear to many a secret.

5. Adopting a senior makes a difference

Last, but not least, when you adopt a senior cat, you know in your heart that you have truly rescued a cat in need. These cats are often surrendered to the shelter when their previous owner had passed away. They’ve spent many years in a loving home, and now circumstances beyond their control or comprehension thrust them in a small cage in a strange and scary place.

They need your help and without you, they are likely to either be put to sleep or spend the remaining of their days caged and lonely.

9 comments on “Why You Should Adopt A Senior Cat

mrsty October 19, 2016
When my current seniors have all passed on, this is what we had planned to do. However, the veterinary expenses of our seniors has caused us to reconsider a bit more carefully the vet allowance of our retirement budget. I would like to pass on some information I've learned from a family member who works with a rescue group, you can "foster" rescue group senior cats and verify with the group that they will pay the medical bills...and it is pretty unlikely that they'll get adopted and taken away from you. And as the foster parent, you would have first choice to adopt at that point.
rubythecat September 24, 2016
I adopted my turkish angora Ruby when she was 12 :)
kittycatgal December 21, 2015
There are many senior cats at a shelter I go to...there are many stories about how their owner passed away or how they were abandoned at the shelter....they are some of the sweetest cats and I would love to take all them in but we dont have room for cats.....the kittens get adopted in a week while the senior cats can be there for up to months at a time
helsic August 13, 2014
thank you for this aricle! 
keslepa August 22, 2013
I recently adopted a five year old cat and she is just great. I'm a senior, so I don't think I could handle the antics of a kitten. I think my decision was the right one for me. Like the article says, the cute kittens get adopted easily, but the older ones get left behind. It breaks my heart when I go the shelter and see all these beauties in the cages, just hoping that someone will take them home. I've only had my little Annie for about four weeks, so I want to give her enough time to adjust, but I just may, in due time, bring home another senior cat. Annie give me so much love and affection. I encourage anyone looking for a cat to consider taking one that's older.
pirategirl0169 March 7, 2013
I just lost my most senior 16 year old cat Kitt Katt yesterday to cancer. She had to be put to sleep because the cancer was too far gone to do anything about it. I only had her less than 2 years. I adopted her from our local shelter when she was 13 - her prior family had left her there. I had no problem adopting her! I was volunteering there one day & saw her & said "hey there girl, I have GOT to get you out of that cage. I'll be back!" I did & I'm so glad I got her. She was always grumpy, but she did act sweet to me sometimes...LOL. I could tell she loved me. I treated her a little different than my other 4 cats because she was old & I wanted to make sure she knew she was loved & I wanted to protect her & make sure she was happy. I will miss her dearly! I have such fond memories of her even though I had her for such a short time.
kittykisses November 20, 2012
The first cats my husband and I adopted were ten-year-old brothers. We didn't intend on adopting seniors, but we fell in love with these two at the shelter. Sadly, one of them, Sam, turned out to have serious health issues and we made the extremely difficult decision to put him to rest only 5 days after we adopted him. His brother, Spook, stayed with us another 6 years. I will never regret my decision to adopt those two. I wish we'd had more time with Sam, but the time we did have with him and Spook was invaluable. Senior cats have tons to offer. Spook was sweet, quiet, loving but also playful and funny. Senior cats need homes more desperately than the younger cats. Give them a chance.
jamasmom November 11, 2012
Maggie & Jasmine were both almost 8 years old when I adopted them. Jasmine went to the rainbow bridge at the age of 16, Maggie is still with me & will be 18 in February. When someone mentions that they want to adopt a cat I always encourage them to adopt a senior cat. When the time comes I will adopt senior cats again.
caretaker November 9, 2012
Thank you for this article. I try to encourage people to adopt senior cats in various Facebook groups by posting links to senior cats posted on our local shelter's website. Now I'm going to share this wonderful article of yours and hope it sways some people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top