by Soojin Um
When most people plan to get a cat, they invariably think kittens. Even if one is adopting a cat from a shelter, people still go for the kittens. No one can blame them really. If you’re going to invest your heart and soul into raising a cat, you want your life together to be as long as possible. There’s also something about kittens that make people melt. Sadly, that also means there are many adoptable older cats that go unnoticed and unwanted. However, it doesn’t always have to be that way.
There are many reasons why having an older cat may be advantageous. For example, a lot of people seeking to adopt don’t necessarily want surprises, and older cats can be the perfect solution. An adult cat has gone through the growing pains of kittenhood. Generally, what you see is what you get. That can be a tremendous help to a new cat owner, particularly if they’ve never owned pets before or if it’s been a long time since they last had a cat. With older cats, you can gauge fairly accurately what a particular cat is like from spending just a few minutes with them. With kittens, it’s difficult to form a real bond right away, but with an older cat, an instant connection can be just a serendipitous eye contact away.
One common misconception about older cats up for adoption is: they must have behavioral problems, and that must be why the previous owners gave them up. While that may be occasionally true, in a great majority of the cases, these cats are victims of circumstance. The reasons can vary greatly, from owners who never realized that it takes effort to raise a cat, to cats whose owners have passed away and were left homeless. Some people will have a cat when single, but then later get married or have children who have allergies. Further still, some people may become physically or financially unable to take care of a cat anymore, such as a senior citizen who has to go into nursing care. People in those cases will give up their cats so that they have a chance to find a new owner that can provide the love and care they deserve. Those cases are especially heartbreaking. In adopting and loving those cats, you could be the answer to their prayers and a saving angel to those cats.
Also, the flip side of that is: older cats could be perfect for older people. Many seniors used to have cats. As they got older, they may have decided that raising another cat is out of the question for them. Who has the energy to deal with kittens and young adulthood? Training kittens require a lot of time and effort, and on top of that, they also require plenty of exercise. Seniors may not have that kind of energy and mobility. However, they still love cats and miss being around them, so what to do? Older cats could be the solution. Older cats are calmer and less energetic, they also require less exercise, and they just want to relax with those they love. It seems older people and older cats share the same goals. Perhaps they could share their lives together as well.
Even if these reasons don’t apply, it doesn’t mean adopting older cats should be ruled out. These cats deserve love too. It’s not their fault that they’re in the situation that they are in. They know how to use the litter box, and they usually have a calm, friendly demeanor. Those are qualities that all cat owners love. There’s also one last thing to consider: kittens are great, we all love kittens, but kittenhood only lasts a year. After a year, they’re full grown. Kittenhood is a fantastic, wonderful thing, but it should not preclude you from considering adoption of an adult cat. But there is hope. Attitudes are slowly starting to change, and more and more people are starting to give these wonderful older cats a chance to start anew in a loving home.
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