According to the ASPCA, approximately 3.4 million cats enter animal shelters every year. Though many of the cats that are rehomed are kittens or young cats, senior cats very often never find a new forever home. Adopting an older cat occasionally comes with some challenges, but those are easily outweighed by the love and companionship senior cat adoption offers. Here's a true-life story of one pet parent's experience adopting an older cat.
Melissa and Clive
The idea of senior cat adoption came to Melissa after she spent time volunteering for the MSPCA. "As time went on, I noticed that more and more kittens and younger adult cats were being adopted daily, while the senior cats spent more time at the shelter," she says. There are many reasons why younger animals are adopted quickly. They're cute, cuddly, and expected to have a long life ahead of them. However, older cats have some perks too. They're often house trained, calmer, and looking for love and attention.
Melissa loved volunteering and knew she wanted to bring home one of the cats, but first, she needed to consult with her partner. "I had spent time with many cats during my service–my job was to write personality descriptions for each kitty–but I was drawn to Clive right away. His previous owners had declawed and surrendered him and his brother who was somehow adopted first." So, she says, "I finally convinced my now-husband that it was time to adopt and bring a cat into our home."
So, one day, the pair took a trip together to see if they could agree on one. Melissa says, "At the shelter, he also immediately noticed Clive, sitting calmly in the 'social' room with other fellow cats who were not vicious or shy. 'What about this guy?' he asked me. I smiled because I had been hoping he'd choose Clive."
One reason people may be hesitant to adopt a senior cat is that they fear the costs will be higher than bringing home a kitten. In some cases, older cats need more frequent attention from their veterinarian, but that shouldn't be a deterrent to adopting an older cat. Melissa says, "The MSPCA gave us a discounted senior adoption fee, but immediately warned us that due to his older age (10 years), he needed dental extractions, which would cost hundreds of dollars. They also mentioned that he might encounter other health issues sooner than later. This had previously turned off other potential adopters."
The couple decided that while the monetary investment may be immediately higher, the relationship they'd build with Clive would be worth every penny. "Despite his dental issues, which were fixed, Clive has been quite healthy and low-maintenance, even now at 13 years old."
And life for the happy family is great! Melissa says, "I love that he is a 'mature gentleman' rather than a hyper kitten because he is the most relaxed and social cat I have ever met! I've had cats previously, but neither of them were as affectionate as Clive, who has no fear of humans, other cats or dogs. Even our friends who are not 'cat people' absolutely love Clive! His main priority is simply cuddling with anyone and everyone as much as possible."
The bond between a cat and his human is strong, and Melissa and Clive are no different. "I could not imagine living without him," Melissa says, "adopting a senior cat was the best decision we ever made."
She also has advice for anyone considering adopting an older cat: "Please don't discount a senior pet simply based on their age. They still have plenty of energy and lots of love to give! They are also ideal pets to bring in to your home if you are looking for a calmer, lower-maintenance lifestyle."
So if you're in the market to adopt a cat, make sure to spend some time with some of the older cats in the shelter. You might just find out that what you really want is companionship, something that older cats certainly have a lot left to offer.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform–and even transform–its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.