Only senior cats for senior citizens: good idea or not?

gilmargl

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I'm not sure where to post this - it's not simply a question for shelters and it's not only about the cat's well-being.

The shelter where I work refuses to allow young cats (less than 5 years old) to be adopted by people over the age of 60.
The argument being that a cat could live to 20 years of age and the average life span of a human is ca. 82 (for a woman).

Apart from the fact that I don't like mixing average ages for humans with best scenarios for cats, I have another problem.
Senior cats develop health problems which may not necessarily shorten their lives but they need intensive care (such as insulin shots, medication and infusions). A senior citizen may develop his or her own health problem, but, even if things go well, may not physically or mentally be able to cope with treating a senior cat adequately.

The senior cats, which we have to find new homes for, are already over 10 years old (estimated). Usually they are treated for dental issues before being put up for adoption, but, unless they are obviously sick, are seldom given the full bloodwork check. One woman who adopted a cat from us ran out of the vet's surgery leaving the cat behind, when it was discovered that the cat had diabetes. Her action was not to be praised, particularly as the shelter was perfectly willing and able to support both her and the cat, but I could understand her panic.

Senior citizens looking for a cat are usually lonely and need comfort. They are willing to care for a pet so long as they are not overwhelmed by the task. Most of them come from the generation which only experienced shots and infusions at a clinic - the idea of even injecting themselves at home let alone sticking needles in a non-co-operative cat doesn't bear thinking about.

So, we could say - only healthy, younger animals for senior citizens. Kittens?

I admit I have allowed an older retired couple to adopt a pair of kittens who were in my care. Their daughter even refused to sign the contract (she had her own problems with a disabled child and, although she didn't refuse outright to have anything to do with the cats, should something happen to her parents, she didn't want to commit herself). I still let the adoption go ahead. This was 5 years ago, I am often invited to visit and I also hear reports from the vet - the cats are doing really well, the couple are so very happy to have them!

Other kittens and young cats, adopted by young families (the ideal case?) have been returned for a variety of reasons, sometimes many years later: separation, spiteful cat, cat not getting along with a new kitten, cat upsetting the neighbours, new baby, allergy (though not as often as we might expect, and it is often just used as an excuse to get rid of an older cat).

What does TCS think about this: should senior citizens be allowed to adopt young cats? Are we increasing the number of strays by encouraging older people to adopt older cats who later become a nuisance when they need healthcare?

I haven't decided yet. I am already 76, just far too old to give an intelligent answer!!! 👵
 

klunick

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I can understand the thinking behind older cats for older citizens. I don't think they'd want to deal with all the energy hyper kittens (and puppies) possess but also about the life span aspect. My mom adopts senior animals and she is in her 80's. She doesn't want them to spend their last years in a shelter. I think that is sweet. Plus I don't think I or my siblings would want to take on the added responsibility if she were to have a younger pet.

With an older pet, they are more calm and just want a lap to lay on which older people possess. Older pets can be just as much company than younger ones. Probably more because younger pets want to go, go, go and don't want to sit.
 

MissClouseau

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Senior cats develop health problems which may not necessarily shorten their lives but they need intensive care (such as insulin shots, medication and infusions). A senior citizen may develop his or her own health problem, but, even if things go well, may not physically or mentally be able to cope with treating a senior cat adequately.
I agree with this.

I really have several problems with this idea. Firstly, I don't like treating people like they are about to die. I'm aware of the lifespan but there are young people with fatal diseases. Nobody asks a person's general health when they're adopting a pet. I know young people who don't have a serious illness but they simply don't ave much energy and couldn't handle a kitten. I know MANY kittens who get returned because of this. The people who adopt them can't keep up with their energy whether it's because they already get tired at work and don't have much energy for home or for sleepless nights, or because they are generally low-energy people. I also know more than one +70 year old people who have the energy to take care of even a kitten.

Side sad story. Recently my aunt's 40something friend passed away due to a heart disease. Her 80something father AND her 104 year old grandmother are both alive and well. In your story, the adoption center would find the younger person as the better option.

Also, if someone passes away it's not necessarily the end for the pet. I might be OK with asking EVERYONE what will happen to the cat, regardless of their age. Especially if they will be the only caretaker in the house. Old people may also have a will like their relatives or neighbors would step in and adopt the cat.
 

Flybynight

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Another issue is, if you give sixty and up people kittens or cats up to age five, those kittens will eventually if all goes well, get older themselves.
So you are not necessarily protecting a sixty plus year old person from eventually having an older cat, if both person and cat live more than five or so years.
Not all cats develop health issues such as diabetes and feeding wet or raw food without sugars helps keep the cat healthy.
Maybe have a care guide to keeping your cat happy and healthy longer such as limiting or avoiding dry food.
I have helped with rehoming cats and we do prefer to give slightly older or older cats to seniors. In cases where we give younger cats, we ask if their family is willing to be a back up in case anything happens to them. We try to ask that anyway of seniors or people with health issues themselves. What would happen to the cat if something happens to you.
But as said, things can happen to younger people as well.
 
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gilmargl

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I can understand the thinking behind older cats for older citizens. I don't think they'd want to deal with all the energy hyper kittens (and puppies) possess but also about the life span aspect. My mom adopts senior animals and she is in her 80's. She doesn't want them to spend their last years in a shelter. I think that is sweet. Plus I don't think I or my siblings would want to take on the added responsibility if she were to have a younger pet.

With an older pet, they are more calm and just want a lap to lay on which older people possess. Older pets can be just as much company than younger ones. Probably more because younger pets want to go, go, go and don't want to sit.
I agree up to the point when the cat becomes senile or sick and an older owner hasn't got transport, agility, money, or the nerves to take care of the cat properly. It is not so long ago when vets were unable to diagnose cat diseases, let alone treat them. Cats would "disappear" to die outside or behind a cupboard. Twenty years ago, old people would be happy just to own a cat and wouldn't bother going to the vets for yearly or six-monthly checkups. But even we oldies would not be able to sleep knowing that our cat needs to visit the vet and we don't just need an appointment but, perhaps, someone to drive us there (more than once) and someone to help administering medication and subq fluids.

I'm happy that your mother is helping these senior cats - I'm not yet prepared to spend so much time sitting with a cat on my lap. Perhaps in ten years time - if I'm lucky! :)
 

Willowy

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I would agree with not letting very elderly less-mobile people get a kitten/puppy, as they may not be able to keep up with their naughtiness, or may be badly injured by normal baby bites and scratches. But it doesn't make sense to set that age at 60, which is not all that old.

Otherwise, no, I don't think there should be age limits on which pets they can adopt. Ask what their plans are for the pet if they die, tell them the pet has to be returned to the shelter, sure. And encouraging older people to adopt an older pet is fine too, I just don't think it should be required.
 

daftcat75

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Every cat is different. Every senior is different. Rather than lumping all together into an ageist policy, I would prefer the shelter did a little more diligence on the adopter's living situation and care style to determine if the cat is a good fit for the guardian regardless of either's age. Perhaps you can have a pre-adoption questionnaire or interview where you ask your specific concerns like, "if your cat develops a chronic condition that requires special care, how likely would you be to step up to their needs or seek assistance if you couldn't?" Or, "are you up for how much trouble kittens can be?"
 

klunick

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I agree up to the point when the cat becomes senile or sick and an older owner hasn't got transport, agility, money, or the nerves to take care of the cat properly. It is not so long ago when vets were unable to diagnose cat diseases, let alone treat them. Cats would "disappear" to die outside or behind a cupboard. Twenty years ago, old people would be happy just to own a cat and wouldn't bother going to the vets for yearly or six-monthly checkups. But even we oldies would not be able to sleep knowing that our cat needs to visit the vet and we don't just need an appointment but, perhaps, someone to drive us there (more than once) and someone to help administering medication and subq fluids.

I'm happy that your mother is helping these senior cats - I'm not yet prepared to spend so much time sitting with a cat on my lap. Perhaps in ten years time - if I'm lucky! :)
I have the philosophy of if you can't afford something, you shouldn't have it. If you don't have the means to do all that is necessary for pets, don't get one. That is just me.
 

danteshuman

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I think your shelter is completely wrong & needs to stay out of it or take it by a case by case basis.

My grandpa is nearing 90 & refuses to get a dog because he might die. The thing is a dog would be great for him. Also he would have at least 4 different family members who would fight over who gets to adopt the dog if he died. So if they have a home lined up for the dog/cat if anything happened to them; what is the problem?!?!?! Also I’m 43 and my health sucks. I fall into that “in case something happens” group...... so she does not determine a person’s health.
 

fionasmom

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Several shelters around here do a "seniors for seniors" program where over a certain age, I think 65, you can adopt for a reduced fee, no fee, or the like. I am not aware of any programs where there are restrictions but have heard of isolated cases. A friend was refused a dog from a Rottweiler rescue when she had owned rotties her whole life because she appeared thin and frail to them and they immediately decided that she could not handle one. So she got one from a breeder and turned it into a remarkable therapy dog.

Adoption has to be handled on an individual basis. An elderly person might have an adult child who would be more than happy to assume responsibility for the pet of their deceased parent. Many dog breeders include a clause that if something happens to the purchaser that they are to be informed and will take the dog back if needs be.

In LA County, there are so many homeless dogs and cats that I don't think that anyone has considered restricting adoption unless there were something about the potential adopter that was a red flag. In fact, it is pretty darn easy to get an animal around here, even in situations where more screening might be good.

I had wondered if the shelter population in Germany was smaller or better controlled than it is here. With restrictions in place, some animals will never get homes or may be euthanized.
 

John Perram

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I could see your shelters reasoning, but I can also see seniors getting stuck with cats that tend to get sick and need medical care.
I'm 64 and plan to adopt again. Furthermore, I also plan to leave a small trust of 10 grand, so someone will take my cat if I should pass on.
 

FeebysOwner

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All I can say, it is one small, tiny albeit misguided step in the right direction - in the overall appreciation of pets. It, unto itself, isn't right and is totally inappropriate at face value, but the point is that rescues are beginning to realize some of the necessities of adopting out cats. I don't condone or support this particular endeavor on its own, but it is a sign that people are (only) beginning to understand the importance of cat adoptions. There are so many other layers involved. One hopes that the layers will be peeled back to expose the many elements involved. This, like all of our evolutions, takes time, mistakes, corrections, refinements, over and over again. I would prefer to see commissions of experts evaluate criteria that constitutes fair practice adoptions - and that would go a long way above to do anything with age - cat or care taker.
 

daftcat75

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One of our local shelters has a program where they allow senior cats to be fostered for life. That way the shelter picks up all vet costs and the senior cat gets a home for their remaining life.
There is still the time, emotional, and physical demands of a special needs senior cat. It would be wonderful if there were more fosters willing and able to work the other end of cats’ lives. 😿😻
 

mani

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So many good points brought up here.
I'm 65 and have decided that I will probably foster when my two have gone. But even so, I have a substantial amount set aside in my Will and an executor who loves cats and understands their needs. I also have specific instructions in my Power of Attorney, should I become incapacitated. That's been the case for quite some time.
Any one of us could meet an accident tomorrow; our pets are a part of the family and need to be accounted for should anything happen to us.
 

betsygee

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We have a senior cat rescue organization in our area. They take in cats over the age of 6, foster and re-home them. If something happens to the adopter, the organization will take the cat back into their program.

At 62, if I were to adopt another cat, I'd get it from that organization or one like it so I know that if something happened to me, the kitty would be taken care of. In the meantime, I have two kitties now and I've provided in my will for a guardian and funds for them to be taken care of if they outlive me.
 

DreamerRose

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Giving an adult cat or dog to a senior will often extend the human's life. The companionship and care are therapeutic for the person - getting more exercise walking the dog and having another creature to think of and provide care and love for. The shelters in my area don't discriminate based on age, for which I am very thankful as I adopted my two at 72. They help fill up the emptiness and bring a smile to my life. I am so glad I got them.
 

jefferd18

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I hate it when shelters pull this pigeonhole nonsense. This is as bad as what they did to Ellen Degeneres friend's little girl.

A friend of mine who is turning seventy-three just adopted a three month old tortie kitten. The reason he wanted a kitten instead of a mature cat is because he just lost his 18 year old Main Coon cat and didn't want to experience the heartache of loss again.
His wife is sixty-two and they have made arrangements in their will for their cat to be taken care of should anything happen to them.

What?- just because somebody is entering their golden years they should never experience the pleasure of living with a kitten.
 

tarasgirl06

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Well, my ideas may not be popular with governments, but first of all, I advocate for governments to make the lives of cats top priority and that means that when taxes are apportioned, the shelters are at the top of the list. Living beings, and especially living beings that human beings should take personal responsibility for, need to come first. If that was the case, what a better society we would have!
And niche-ing is something I loathe on all levels. While I understand society's obsession with pigeon-holing so as to cut down on red tape and time and therefore money spent, I believe this is wrong, whether it applies to rental properties, health care, law enforcement situations, or how we care for our yet-to-be-homed animals. Each is an individual with individual needs. We need to deal with that not by dismissing it but by addressing it. Interviews need to happen and in them, it should be ascertained to the best of the interviewer's ability what adoption would be best for each cat and each interviewee.
Some shelters have seniors-for-seniors programs where there are low-or-no-cost adoptions of adult cats to seniors with the understanding that the cat will be welcomed back should the senior be unable to continue caring for the cat for whatever reason. This needs to be expanded upon, and apply to not only adult and senior cats, but kittens as well.
Spay/neuter needs to be mandatory BEFORE a kitten or cat leaves the shelter except as medically exempted. Period. And any cat leaving a shelter for an adoptive home needs to be thoroughly vetted.
Many people of any age do not have transportation and/or endless funds. These facts need to be accomodated.
It's a tall order in a lot of tall orders. And it's one we need to address and deal with adequately and caringly.
 
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