Adopting Older Cats: Cat Adoption Tips for Adult Cats

Several years ago I adopted Prince Albert, an older cat, and I am very thankful that I was able to give him a loving home.

Adopting an Older Cat Can Be Rewarding

While the majority of people wanting to adopt a cat will choose a kitten, there are unexpected joys to adopting an older—or even elderly—cat. I do love kittens . their curiosity, their playfulness, and their darn cuteness! A couple of years ago, though, I was put in the position to take in an old cat: a skinny, gray, half-blind, outdoor cat whose owner had died.

Having fed Prince Albert for several months next door while his human mama was ill in the hospital, I had developed a bond with him. Still, I had no plans for him to end up with me, and I had no idea what his addition to my little furry family would bring to my life.

Challenges of Adopting an Older Cat

Bringing the old guy into my home had its challenges. When the Prince lived next door, my dog would bark and chase him across the yard back to his own yard if he ventured through the picket fence over into our territory. I worried about my dog’s acceptance of the old cat. Plus, I already had five cats and wasn't looking to adopt more. And would they get along? I had learned how to acclimate cats to each other over time, but I had never taken in a cat this old, whose estimated age was 17.

I had heard from a family member that the old guy had incontinence problems and would pee in the house. That was something I would have to watch, too. Where would he sleep at night? Where would I leave him during the day with the other cats? These were questions I would have to answer once I committed to taking him in.

Tips for Taking in an Older Cat

If you are considering adopting an older cat, these tips will guide you through the process and prepare you for when your new friend comes home.

1. Consider the Older Cat’s Health Issues

When I agreed to take Prince Albert home, I asked a family member of his former owner what veterinarian he had been taken to. Soon, I took him there for a complete check-up and to learn his past history. I learned that his glazed-over apparently blind eye was not a cataract but was most likely from an injury.

I also learned that his blood work was good, his organs were working well, and that he could live a much longer life. Oh, great, I thought, especially when I got the vet bill for $160. I’m stuck with this old, incontinent cat till death do us part. And I was just trying to do a favor.

2. Give the Older Cat Extra Time to Get Used to the Other Cats

This goes both ways. The cats in the home also need time to get used to the idea of a new cat in the home. As a cat lover, I have been adopting cats for many years. Each time the newcomer comes in, I keep him or her in the bathroom with food, water, and litter for about a week or two, bringing the newbie out for a short time in the evenings for the other cats to see. During the day when I work, the cats get used to knowing that there is a newcomer on the other side of the door, as they sniff and swat their paws under the door.

With the older cat, I gave it even more time, as it seemed there was more resistance from the other cats. And old Prince Albert isn’t as resilient as a kitten that keeps coming back for more. Protect your older cat from unwanted advances until he or she is ready, both day and night.

3. Explore the Older Cat's Litter Box Needs

Since I was told that Prince Albert had been known to pee in the house, I was careful to let him in from the screened porch too much. Out there, he could pee in the litter box, out in the dog/cat covered run, or even on the concrete. So, once he moved over to my house, during the warm months, he spent a lot of his time out there, with infrequent or short indoor visits.

With the onset of cold weather, I brought in the old guy to stay in the bathroom overnight. As I had caught him urinating on throw rugs inside (now I’ve pulled all the rugs up until he passes away!), I started to experiment with different types of litter areas for him. He immediately took to pee pads for dogs. As these are expensive, I also tried an “as seen on TV” potty patch for dogs, and he took to that, too! Now, over time, he has even found the traditional litter box, so he has several options. I guess you can teach an old cat new tricks!

4. Consider the Older Cat's Food Needs

Prince Albert can eat the dry food with the other cats, but when I treat them with canned cat food, I sneak him some extra. Many older cats may find chewing hard food more difficult, so keep that in mind. Also, with the sweet old man, I make sure that whether he’s out in the sunshine on the screened-in patio or secluded in the bathroom, that he has plenty of food and water at all times. I just don’t want the old guy to go hungry or want for anything. I think I’m falling for him.

Rewards of Adopting an Older Cat

I joke about taking on a cat hospice patient, as I made him as comfortable as possible. I had doubts about taking in this guy, as I thought it would be more of a burden than a pleasure. I didn’t think he would hang on so long—over two years so far since he came to be a part of my household! Now, he comes in from the patio more often, laying by me on the couch or a nearby chair.

One of the older cats has taken to him and will get fairly close to him. After all this time, the other cats are finally learning to accept him. They don’t cuddle up to him, but the hisses have lessened as they are realizing that he is here to stay. Prince Albert has made the place his own; he comes into the kitchen with the dog, watching me as I cook, looking for crumbs. Surprisingly, once Prince Albert came home with me, my dog stopped pestering him. My little smart canine buddy realized, “Oh, he’s one of us now!” I've even caught them in the doghouse together when the weather is chilly!

Prince Albert has thrived in his new “hospice setting.” He is totally an inside cat now and doesn’t seem to miss the harshness of the outdoors. This pampered old cat now has a softer, thicker gray coat, and seems to be thriving, as he now comes to the sliding glass door to be let in, then scampers into the house. He looks up at me with his sweet blind eye, and my heart melts.

This gentle, grateful soul is about 19 years old now. I hope he’ll be with me well into his 20s. Adopting an older cat is so rewarding. Giving new life to an elderly cat who needs you and begins to thrive not only helps that little creature, but it gives you new life, too, adding a sweetness you never dreamed possible.

Consider adopting an older cat! The rewards for both of you are well worth it.

Prince Albert's Death

As an update, since this post, my sweet soul Prince Albert passed on on June 25th, 2012. I am still so sad. I miss his sweet countenance, his trust, how he finally got comfortable and would claim his spot on the couch next to me. Prince Albert was old, which brought its challenges. He would only pee on certain things (yeah, a problem, sometimes), and the other cats had a hard time warming up to him. Still, I loved him. He was part of my home, and I feel grateful and fortunate that I had the honor of taking care of him in his last years.

The rewards of adopting an older or special needs cat are immeasurable.

The Joys of Adopting an Older Cat: Save a Life!

  • Why Adopt An Adult Cat Instead of a Kitten?
    Why it might be better to adopt an adult cat than a kitten in various circumstances.

Shirley Leach on August 27, 2018:

I adopted a six year old cat from a family of ten cats because they no longer could keep any of them. I chose one of the quiter ones. He uses his box and eats good. I found that he has used the carpet in the living room to poop on. He is also using his box. How can I get him to stop using my carpet in the living room. I have had him only one week. He stays under a bed during the day and you can hear him run up the hall at night.

Judy on September 14, 2017:

I loved the story of Prince. My husband and I are adopting a 14 and 17 year old cat whose owner died. This gave me hope and made me smile.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on November 02, 2015:

I totally agree, Snowsprite!

Fay from Cornwall, UK on October 28, 2015:

I too was owned by an older cat. It is a rewarding and challenging time, but well worth it.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on April 01, 2015:

Lynn--owned by two cats! ha! I can relate! Thanks for reading.

Lynn Savitzky from New Jersey on March 24, 2015:

Great article. As someone who's been owned by two adult cats in her lifetime, I found this really informative.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 24, 2013:

nArchuleta--Thanks for the comments. I love it that you got Lindemann at the shelter. There are so many cats out there to save! :-)

Nadia Archuleta from Denver, Colorado on March 22, 2013:

What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. I got my sweet Lindemann at a shelter. He wasn't an older cat -- 3 years at the time. I've adopted both kittens and adult cats, and I prefer adults.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on January 13, 2013:

Rebecca--Glad you like the hub--and the pictures, too! Thanks!

Rebecca Furtado from Anderson, Indiana on January 12, 2013:

Really nice informative hub. Love the pictures.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on December 05, 2012:

Debby, I do love cats. I think I have a special place in my heart for them partly because they are so often cast off. They deserve to have a safe, loving home. I could definitely do Cat Hospice. It is so rewarding, even though my Prince Albert died this past summer--June 25th. I miss him greatly, but he was old and is in a better place now, I guess. He did look like a Russian Blue; I bet he was beautiful when he was younger. Thanks for your comments, Debby.

Debby Bruck on December 05, 2012:

Dear Victoria - You must have a special place in your heart for cats; and have shown others the potential for older cats to find a loving home environment. "Cat Hospice" is a new idea and very much needed! Your Prince Albert looks like a Russian Blue to me. Blessings, Debby

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 29, 2012:

SylvianeNuccio--Nice to meet you. Thanks for your comments. I'm sorry about your Tony. It's so hard to lose a pet. Some time after I wrote this hub, my old Prince Albert also died--this year on June 5th. I wrote a poem about that. I miss the old guy. I'll keep a look out for your tribute to Tony. :-)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on June 10, 2012:

That's wonderful, DzyMsLizzy! I have "only" 5 cats now since Prince Albert passed. If I get the chance, I will adopt another old cat who needs a place to live out his last year. Maybe that's my calling! (one of my callings, anyway!) I bet your household of felines is lots of fun. I would have a hard time letting go of the ones I fostered! You're welcome about the links. Your article is a perfect complement to mine. Thanks for reading, the votes, links, etc! Blessings to you and your wonderful cats and kittens!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on June 09, 2012:

What a wonderful story and tribute! They can, and do adapt. We have, at this point, 6 cats, and are fostering 3 kittens. Wow!

It gets interesting, as we don't have the space or luxury of an "extra" room or the newcomers generally just get tossed into the mix, and we let them all sort it out, squirt bottles at the ready... ;-)

Thanks very much, too, for the links to my article. I'll be linking back to yours!

Voted up, interesting and awesome.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on April 06, 2012:

Hi, homestead! I think people who rescue animals are great; that means YOU! 5 of them! Do the cats at least tolerate each other? That's how some of mine are. The ones that used to hiss at each other at least can walk past each other now without too much noise. LOL! I'm glad you appreciated the hub.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on April 06, 2012:

Audra, I appreciate your comments. Gizmo and the old Prince Albert ARE really special. Thanks for recognizing that! thanks for the vote and share, as well!

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on April 06, 2012:

I am an animal rescue person as well. All three cats and both dogs are rescues. Two of the cats were adults when I got them. After 10 years 2 of the cats still do not get along, but we love them all.

This was a beautiful story.

iamaudraleigh on April 06, 2012:

Victoria, this article is great! I think Gizmo and Prince Albert are so cute! Thank you for including them in your article to tell your story! Voted up and shared!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 19, 2012:

Sharyn--My adopting Prince Albert has been a great experience. I will definitely plan to rescue another elderly cat if I get the opportunity. Sounds like you had a wonderful experience with your cat and many more years to pamper her in her old age!

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on March 18, 2012:

Aw, I loved this Vicky! I wish more people would be open to adopting older animals. All the cats that I have had have been rescues and one was much older, maybe 15 at the time. She quickly adapted to being an indoor cat and was so extremely lovable. She lived for another six years or so with me. She had a great life.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 04, 2012:

Gemini--I usually adopt younger cats, but, after my experience with Prince Albert, I will definitely look at taking in an older cat again. One that really needs a home. It's a good thing to do.

Gemini Fox on March 03, 2012:

Aaaaaaawww! So glad to hear that others believe in adopting older cats. So many people seem to want only the youngsters but kittens can be such a handful . sweet but a handful. I have one cat (who likes being solo) but if I ever did try to adopt another, it would be an older cat.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 02, 2012:

Well, thanks, Troyangeluk! Cats are great....

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 02, 2012:

Well, that's cool, nybride. I need to visit Red Gage again soon. Glad you found this article. Thanks.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 02, 2012:

Ah, mar, how sweet. Prince Albert is an angel, too, then. Thanks for the great comments and votes.

Troyangeluk from UK on March 02, 2012:

I love cats haha :) great hub keep up work like this!!!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

JS--Sounds like your cat has his own mind, which is one of the things that I love about cats. And, yes, Albert is such a sweet soul. :-)

nybride710 on March 01, 2012:

This gives a lot of good, detailed information. I followed your link from Red Gage, then see we are cross-linked on each other's stories about older cat adoption.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Kathleen--What a great name Lady is! And what a great lady you are for saving her. Amazing that the shelter even kept her for a year. Was it a no-kill shelter, thank God!? Bless you for taking her in. I'm sure you miss her terribly, but you gave her some good years. Thanks for the great comments!

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on March 01, 2012:


What a precious story you have relayed in your Prince Albert. His sweet little tongue made me grin from ear to ear! God bless you for making his senior years such special are an angel on Earth!

Voted UP & across the board. Hugs, mar.

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on March 01, 2012:

I think he is older but I never knew his age. He came to us fixed and fat so I think he had a decent life! He just hates being picked up and is not a lap cat! The cat is "Fattass" from my cat Hub. I should ask the vet how old he is. I would say 5-7 because although he is lazy, he likes to play! He is loaded with freckles! It is funny when he opens his mouth! Albert sounds really sweet!


Kathleen Kerswig on March 01, 2012:

This is a great hub. I adopted a 9 year old cat years ago and it was the best thing I had ever done. She had been at the shelter for over a year because of her age. Lady was the best cat I ever had. I gave her extra time to adjust to her new surroundings and the other cat in the house. She lived for close to 9 more years. I still miss her. Thank you for sharing this useful information. Definitely Voted Up!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

JS, I think the sticking out the tongue is hilarious! Is it because they have lost control over their tongue muscles? ha. Is the cat with black freckles in his mouth and gums an older cat? I've noticed that happening with one of my 12-year olds. My vet said that is normal with age. Age spots, I guess. haha. So I wouldn't worry about it. I think you're right about older cats. They grow on you. My Albert is just so gentle and sweet, and he seems so appreciative of being taken in and living the good life. Lots of love to your cats! Thanks for reading, commenting, voting, and SHARING! :-)

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on March 01, 2012:

Victoria, my cat sticks out his tongue too! He also has black freckles in his mouth on his gums so it is quite strange! My last 4 cats were adopted and I think it is the right thing to do. There are just too many animals in need out there. I find that older cats (that are fixed!) grow on you quickly. This is a very useful Hub and I am voting up and SHARING!


Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

That's great, CassyLu! good for you guys! Since Prince Albert came into my life, I would definitely again adopt an older cat down the road. They need us! Good luck!

CassyLu1981 from Spring Lake, NC on March 01, 2012:

Wonderful Hub! We are adopting two cats on Saturday. Both are females, sisters actually. They are older cats and since we've done this before I think we can handle it. Thanks for sharing the tips, I'm sure I'll put it to use!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

onegreenparachute--Thanks! Having a good soul--that's the best compliment I could ever hear! Yes, Prince Albert has messed some stuff up in my house, but he is worth more than stuff. Thanks, Carol, for the kind comments.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Thanks, rebeccamealey. I think the good Prince and I are lucky to have found each other. :-)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Deborah, I love cats, too! Glad you loved the hub and my Prince Albert. He has brought a lot of sweetness to my life. I hope I have him and you have your Muffin for many, many more years. thanks so much!!!

Carol from Greenwood, B.C., Canada on March 01, 2012:

Your story touched my heart. I'm so glad there are kind people out there who will go to any lengths - even take up their carpets - to accommodate elderly animals! You have a good soul! Good information and voted up & useful!


Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Entourage--glad you're finding a good home personally for your cat. I couldn't give up an animal to a shelter, and it makes me angry when people dump them and leave them to fend for themselves. Good luck with your search. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on March 01, 2012:

Prince Albert is one lucky cat! It sounds like you have done a good job adopting this older cat. Bless you!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Flora, they really are awesome! I'm surprised at how well Prince Albert and the others have adapted. They just pretty much live and let live!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Thanks, Marcy! I appreciate your appreciative comments!

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on March 01, 2012:

Oh I love Prince Albert..I love cats.. I love your hub.. older cats are so wonderful I have had my Muffin for 14 years I cannot imagine life without her.

voted way up


Stuart from Santa Barbara, CA on March 01, 2012:

I am glad you adopted an older cat, it is very sad - but now I am trying to find a new home for my cat that I've had for 1.5 years.... I have finally realized that my allergies are completely cat related and I wasn't sure what was making my eyes so red every day until now.... One thing is for sure though, I am going to find her a home personally - I'm not going to take her to the animal shelter or let her roam as an outdoor cat.

She needs a good home

FloraBreenRobison on March 01, 2012:

My cat would not do well with all those other animals. Older cats are awesome!

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on March 01, 2012:

What a neat hub! I love kitties - and I love the idea of adopting an older kitty who might need some loving care. Thanks for these wonderful pointers to help us provide the right environment for a pet. Voted up, useful and awesome.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Many times, Susan, it's the older ones that get passed over. Makes me feel bad for them. Thanks for reading! Prince Albert is a beautiful boy. Quite the Prince!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on March 01, 2012:

Most people that I know adopt younger cats. It's nice to see that you adopted an older one. All cats deserve a nice loving home. Beautiful cat!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Hi, Anamika! There's a lot to consider when taking in a pet, especially an older ones that may have special needs. Thanks for the votes!

Anamika S Jain from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India on March 01, 2012:

Cat adoption? Interesting. I never thought there is this much to the process. Good hub, Voted up and useful!

Adopting Older Cats: Cat Adoption Tips for Adult Cats - pets

"They are not our property — We not their owners.
A just and compassionate world for animals begins
with our language and our actions."
In Defense of Animals, Mill Valley CA

When The Bond Breaks.

When you first adopt a cat, you do so with the best intentions. In fact, without those good intentions, most shelters and individuals would never approve the adoption in the first place. Your new pet cat will probably be a kitten -- almost 90% are. That kitten, living inside and being lovingly cared for, may live 20 years or more. That's a very long time to stay committed to a pet. Luckily, many people bond very closely to their cats and would never consider giving them up. Others like "having them around", but if their life situation changes — which it most certainly will over a 20-year period — the pet cat may find its value lessened and ultimately be relinquished.

Even those instances where the cat/human bond is very strong, life circumstances frequently intervene. The guardian marries someone who is allergic to cats, has a baby that "torments" the cat, or gets too old or too ill to keep the cat. Sometimes the cat develops unsavory behaviors, such as inappropriate elimination, frequently as a result of a change in the cat's living arrangements — a new home, a new pet, a new baby. At these points, even the most loved cats find their lives hanging in the balance.

If you are one of the many people that find yourself with a cat that, for whatever reason, you can't keep and you want to find it a "good home, you have a very difficult problem. Two out of three cats that lose their homes will never find a new one! Understanding this situation can help your pet cat be among the small group of cats who are successfully re-homed. Here are a few tips to improve your cat's chances:

How To Re-Home Your Cat

  • Give your cat to a shelter only as a last resort. Shelters have a very low success rate at placing adult cats. Individuals do much better.
  • Network! Network! Network! Tell every person you know that you have a loving cat that needs a new home. This includes friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, church, social and business groups, email lists, your children's schoolmates. They may not be direct candidates — but they may know someone who is. Feed them positive information about the cat — and explain why you can't keep the cat yourself. The more people you can reach the better.
  • Advertise in local newspapers for a guardian. Post a "For Adoption" flyer in key locations — bulletin boards in vet clinics, pet supply stores, workplaces and churches. Include a photo — to lure the potential adopter — and include your phone number — preferably multiple times in tear-off strips at the bottom. Keep the text brief, but cover important points to build compassion.
  • Be sure the cat is spayed/neutered, has been viral tested, and has a current rabies and distemper shot. New guardians will feel much more comfortable adopting a cat with a positive health record.
  • If your cat has any behavior problems, ask your vet for assistance in retraining the cat before trying to adopt it out. Recognize that if the cat has behaviors that you can't tolerate, it stands little chance of keeping a new home. If you give your cat to someone without telling them about the problem, the cat may find itself rapidly taken to a shelter — with the behavior problem cited as the reason — and the cat will be deemed "unadoptable".

Should You Charge A Fee?

Much is made out of the importance of collecting an "adoption fee" to ensure the cat goes to a good home and not to the nearest research lab. Although there may be some truth to this caution, it should not be a concern if you are diligent in checking references and verifying the permanent address of the new guardian.

Just as we do not charge for human adoptions, we believe it is important not to charge for companion animal adoptions. They are not our "property" — as an adoption fee might imply. We are merely their guardians, entrusted with their care and protection. Because of this we discourage the charging of a fee. It is not necessary — the new guardian will pay for the cat for the rest of its life in providing its care. If someone feels they need to "pay" for the cat suggest they make a contribution to a local cat rescue group instead.

How To Choose A Guardian

Here's some tips on deciding if the adoption candidate will make a good guardian:

  • Ask the candidate to visit the cat in your home, where the cat is comfortable, and watch them interact.
  • Ask about previous and current pets. Do they still have them? If not, why not? Check vet references.
  • Check other references unless you know the candidate personally.
  • If the candidate rents, verify that the landlord allows cats prior to the adoption. Review the lease or call the landlord to confirm.
  • Deliver the cat to the new home, leaving it in the car while you make sure the environment is safe and nurturing for it. If you don't deliver the cat personally, verify the application address against a driver's license.

If you're comfortable, give the cat to the new guardian. Make sure you bring the cat's belongings — toys, litter box, food. Having familiar scented items will ease the transition to the new home. Recommend that the new guardian start the cat off in a single room to get adjusted before giving it reign over the entire dwelling. Follow-up in a week or two to make sure everything is going smoothly. Be prepared to take the cat back if the new home doesn't work out.

How To Adopt A Shelter Cat: 6 Tips For Success

Who doesn’t love a kitten? Kittens are cute, cuddly and funny. Most people who are thinking of adopting a cat usually have a kitten in mind, but we at Fear Free have a proposition for you to consider: An adult cat can be a better bet.

When you bring home an adult cat, the acronym WYSIWYG applies: what you see is what you get. That’s a good thing if you don’t want any surprises when it comes to personality or activity level. A kitten is an unknown quantity in those respects. Adult cats need less supervision than kittens, and they are less likely to engage in destructive play. And in shelter terms, the word “adult” typically means 2 years and older, so you’ll still get plenty of mileage from one of these cats.

Finally, while they often have many great qualities and can be just as playful, sweet and cute as kittens, adult cats in shelters are at greater risk. Approximately 70 percent of the cats who wind up in animal shelters each year are euthanized. The vast majority of these unwanted cats are adults. Giving one a home is a boon for him, and we bet you’ll find that it’s also a gift to yourself.

If you decide to seek out an adult shelter cat as your newest family member, we have some tips to help you, your family, and your cat succeed in this new relationship.

  1. Look past the fear. While some cats are able to cope with the sights, sounds and smells of an animal shelter, many experience considerable fear in this environment. Keep this in mind when deciding which cat to adopt. Just because a cat is timid and withdrawn at the shelter doesn’t mean that same cat won’t be outgoing and affectionate after you take him home and give him time to settle in.
  2. Take your new cat to the vet. Before putting them up for adoption, many shelters test cats for two serious and potentially fatal communicable diseases, feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). If the shelter from which you are adopting does not test for these illnesses, take your cat to a veterinarian to be tested before allowing her to share a litter box or have contact with other cats in your home. As part of a regular exam, the vet will also check your cat for fleas, ticks and mites. If your cat shows signs of illness, such as runny eyes, sneezing, or diarrhea, separate her from the other cats in your home until she is treated and has a clean bill of health.
  3. Confine your cat. To ease your cat’s stress and help her adjust to her new home, confine her to one room of the house for a week or more, depending on how she is coping. Spend time with her in this room, where you can bond with her and reassure her that she’s in a safe place. If you have other animals in the house, keeping your cat in a separate room will give the other pets a chance to get used to the new cat’s scent and the idea that there’s a new pet in the house.
  4. Keep your new cat indoors. That’s the best way to keep her safe from disease, parasites, being hit by a car, or getting in a fight with another cat or a wild animal. If you want her to be able to go outdoors, consider building her a “catio” or installing “cat fencing” so she can’t leave the safety of your yard. If you plan to allow her to go outside in an unconfined space, wait at least a month before giving her outdoor access. She needs to be bonded to you and comfortable in your home before she’s given freedom to go outdoors.
  5. Use toys and catnip. Playing with your new cat is a great way to help her relax and bond with you. Wand toys are irresistible to most cats and can foster playfulness in even the most reserved cat. Catnip is also a great way to help your cat unwind. While some cats don’t react to catnip, the ones who do loosen up and become more playful. Sprinkle some dried catnip on the floor near your new cat to see how she reacts.
  6. Be patient. Cats adjust slowly to change. Your new cat may react to her new situation by hiding or refusing to eat if you are in the room. Spend time with her anyway, talking to her or even reading out loud to her from a book so she can get used to the sound of your voice. Avoid direct eye contact, as that can seem threatening to cats. Play ‘hard to get’ by letting her choose to initiate interactions with you. Give her time to feel safe and begin to trust you. Your patience will eventually pay off in a special relationship with your feline friend.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.

Tips on Adopting an Older Cat

While it can be tempting to fall in love with the cute little kittens, they grow up very quickly into older cats. Starting with an older cat whose temperament you already get along with can set you both up for a long life of happiness together. Plus, let’s be honest, older cats are super adorable too! Here are some tips for adopting a senior cat.

Choosing a Cat at Shelter

Shelters are a great place to find older cats because you get to talk to volunteers that spend time with each of these cats every day and they can give you a good sense of their tempermant. You can talk to them and tell them about your lifestyle and what you’re looking for and they can help you narrow it down to cats that meet your family’s personality.

Bringing Home a Shelter Cat

Start by shopping for basic pet supplies and specialized senior pet supplies. Then, prepare a small room with a little food, drink, a litter tray, some toys and a warm bed which is enclosed on three sides (you can use a cardboard box and line it with old clothes or a blanket).

Additionally, shelters often have a room that they can let the cat out and interact with you. This will give you a good indication if it is a match made in heaven. At this session it is important to have all members of the family with you, this is particularly important if you have children, because it is important that your new cat gets along with all family members to avoid needing to return her to the shelter.

One way to ease your new older cat’s transition into your home is to have the necessary items on hand, including litter and a litter box, grooming supplies, fresh drinking water and the right cat food for her stage in life. And don’t forget the toys! While not as feisty as kittens, older cats love to play and benefit greatly from the activity. Good toys include wands and a few small stuffed animals she can bat around. This is also good exercise for her to help keep her trim and at a healthy weight.

Adoption Day!

Bring a soft sided cat carrier to the shelter with a piece of fabric on top to provide a sense of security and safety to your new pet. Even though your new furry companion is happy to finally have a loving home, she will be stressed out due to the change of environment and confusion about what’s happening. Old cats require gentle handling, so don’t make any jerky or rocking movements to the basket.

First Day With New Older Cat

Once you arrive home, gently open the basket and leave your cat on her own in the small room you prepared in step 2. Leave her on her own for several hours to give her space to adjust to the new environment and get used to the new and strange smells and noises.

Hand Feeding

Feeding your cat is one of the best bonding exercises you can do. Through hand-feeding a senior feline, you can build trust. He will associate you with security. You can also create a special signal that will let her know that food is coming such as tapping her plate, whistling, calling her name or opening a specific cupboard.

Clean Her Litter Tray Regularly

Make sure your cat knows where her litter tray is and that it is roomy enough for her to comfortably use with plenty of litter. Remove clumps several times a day and pay attention to whether she likes the specific kind of litter you use.

Enough Time To New Introductions

If you have small children in the house or other pets, don’t be too quick to introduce her to them. Give your senior cat time to adjust to her new environment first, and then set aside a time when no one is in a rush to introduce her to other family members. An older cat might be set in his ways and need extra time to adjust.

If you own a dog, it might be a good idea to put either the dog or the cat in a cage during the first introduction. That way she will not feel threatened by the dog who could get overly excited to meet her.

Register Your Older Senior Cat

Unless the shelter warns you otherwise, you can assume that your cat is in good health. However, it is still very important to have a vet who knows your cat that you can talk to whenever you have questions or go to in case of an emergency.

Although she’ll probably stake out your bed as her favorite sleeping spot, your new cat buddy will appreciate having choices. Cats like to seek out warm places to rest. Make sure your older cat’s favorite soft bed or resting place is not in a drafty area of your home. Too much heat, though, can potentially burn a cat who can’t move quickly, so be sure to think warm, not hot. A pile of blankets in the corner of a couch is perfect, as is a soft pet bed under an end table, and always choose a spot that’s a good distance from heat sources such as fireplaces, furnaces or wood stove.

Adjusting to a New Home

As with any new roommate, your new cat will have to adjust to your home, and she may be shy at first as she gets used to all the new sights and smells. Depending on her previous living situation, it may take a while to win her trust, so be sure not to rush this important bonding period. All cats are different, so there is no exact timeline for her to acclimate completely to her new home, but she’ll be at ease before you know it. Adopting an older cat is beneficial for you and her: she gains a loving forever home, and you gain a loving forever friend.

Potential cons of adopting an older cat

There are of course a number of problems that you could encounter after adopting an older cat. However, with a little bit of love and patience they can easily be overcome!

Older Cats Have Lower Energy Levels

For natural reasons senior cats are not as energetic as kittens and young cats. If you’re looking for a furry companion to play with or have children who are very energetic, you may find a senior cat unexciting. Instead of running around and chasing imaginary mice, old cats prefer to sleep a lot, thoughtfully look through the windows and relax.

You Will Have Less Time With Your Feline

A senior cat is an old animal, and may have health conditions which manifest themselves at an older age. It’s sad to say, but instead of 15-25 years you will only have 5-10 years with your cat depending on her age when you adopt. Spend a lot of quality time with her and enjoy every moment.

You would be surprised to learn that adopting an old cat can be a fulfilling experience! Below is a list of reasons for why you should adopt a senior cat.

Mature Cats Are Calm, Wise and Experienced

Kittens are sweet and adorable, but they’ve got boundless energy in their tiny frames. They won’t leave you alone when it’s time for bed, have to be trained, and devour things left on countertops. Older cats have already lived in homes with other humans. They know how to use their litterboxes and are considerably calmer than kittens. They can keep you company, or quietly enjoy being on their own if you’re away from home.

It sounds awful to put it this way, but adopting an older cat is significantly cheaper than adopting a kitten! Many senior cats have already been spayed/neutered, dewormed, immunized and declawed (note: I advise against any declawing of future pets, but that’s for another time.) Plus, many shelters offer free adoptions for old cats! Use the ASPCA website to search for adoptable cats in your area.

You Know What You’re Getting

When you’re adopting a kitten, you really don’t know what they will be like as an older cat. They might turn out to be a lovely, fluffy pile of sweetness, or they might attack you in your sleep. Shelters will know everything about an older cat such as her behavior, whether she gets along with other cats, pets and children, their health problems, and most importantly how she reacts to changes in the environment.

Mature Cats Are Great For Households With Children

No matter how much you tell your child about proper behavior and handling of pets, they won’t be able to be gentle with a cat because they haven’t grown into their fine motor skills yet. Older cats can handle a little more “rough handling” than kittens, who might react with scratching or biting – and those little claws and teeth hurt! A mature cat is more likely to put up with being yanked by her tail than a kitten and still love your child.

Older Cats Are Perfect Companions For Senior Citizens

Older cats are a perfect addition to a venerable person’s home because they’re calmer, more relaxed and far less destructive than kittens. Kittens want to play all the time, and that can be taxing for someone who has limited mobility.

Mature Cats Get Along With Other Pets

If you’re looking to add a cat to a house that already has mature cats, an older cat will have an easier time integrating into the established dynamic. Adding a kitten into the mix will stress your older cats out, because if you’re not playing with the kitten, the kitten is playing with your cats. Mature cats enjoy their routines and independence and upending the balance in the home with an energetic kitten will be extremely stressful.

Let’s face it, older cats are more chill! They can let stuff go and accept their environment.

A Mature Cat Provides Unconditional Love

Studies have shown that after being adopted older cats show gratitude and love in unbridled ways. They are indefinitely grateful that you have given them a warm home, whereas kittens can take your home and care for granted.

Older cats have immense love and willingness to give back, are more responsible than their younger counterparts, and fit in with other animals and people extremely well. Adopting a senior cat will enrich your life with the company of a devoted pet who will never forget your kindness. There isn’t really a reason why you shouldn’t consider adopting a mature cat!

Prepare for Arrival

Changes of scenery can be jarring to older cats, so it's best to place Whiskers in a small room with his litter box to start and let him move outward and explore the rest of your home at his own pace. This allows for a smoother adjustment and ensures he won't have to wander a seemingly vast distance to relieve himself. "If you already have a cat at home, make sure you have enough litter boxes and food bowls around, so that the cats do not have to compete for these items," says Agapis. If you brought your furry friend home in a carrier from the shelter or you have any other toys or items from his former life, make those a part of his new safe space, too, and aim to feed him the same kind of food he's been eating to ease the transition.

"It could take as long as three weeks or even longer for a shy cat to settle in," says Hurley. "You might notice irregular bowel movements or diarrhea, too, as they adapt to their new surroundings and process the change." It's smart to quickly establish a relationship with a trustworthy vet, as well. The cat will have had the basic shots necessary to stay healthy in the shelter, but may need additional flea control, heart-worm testing, or other preventative treatments depending on where you live and his new lifestyle.

Why You Should Adopt an Older Cat

Veterinarians share advice on welcoming a senior feline into your family.

While cute kittens tend to draw the gaze of shelter visitors, adult cats are far more likely to be overlooked. And as a result, they face the greatest risk of being euthanized, says Kate Hurley, director of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. Although that's reason alone to scoop one up, these older cats also bring other advantages to the table. They're generally calmer and less likely to cause trouble, says Loukia Agapis, shelter medicine service head at University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine: "You won't have to guess whether they're going to ruin your new shoes or chew on your laptop charger!"

Contrary to the public misconception of shelter cats, they're also not any "lesser" than a feline you'd pick up from a pet store. "These animals are examined by veterinary staff, screened for illness, and given vaccinations and other treatments before they're put up for adoption," says Agapis. "Many times, they're just in a shelter because their families ran into a bit of bad luck and could no longer care for them." That's precisely where you come in. If you're considering adoption, Agapis suggests fostering first: Offer up your place as a weekend escape for one lucky kitty and see how it goes. Once you're fully convinced, follow these steps to add your new furry family member.

Watch the video: This My Cat From Hell Cameraman Couldnt Leave Without Adopting A Kitty Of His Own (October 2021).

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