When I had to say goodbye to my 17-year-old cat, I knew that when I was ready to be adopted again, I would want a cat just like her – calm, calm and easy-going. Of course, I remembered her as a big, not an energetic young woman. So, when you were ready to adopt again, what did you do? I gave in to the fear of having to face the pain of saying goodbye again and I adopted not one, but two kittens who had long lived in front of them. Oh boy.
I soon found out that they had a different idea of what our life together should be like. They were full of energy and didn’t care about the clock or my schedule. Who wants to sleep while you can play with cool stick toys? Or take things off the table to get my attention? Nap time was definitely not on their to-do list. I soon realized that I had to change my expectations and adapt to the needs of my kitten. Oh boy, again.
Older shelter cats are just as loving, loyal, and cheerful as the kittens, but they are usually the last to be adopted. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 3.2 million cats find their way to animal shelters each year. Some of them—about 90,000 or so—were happily reunited with their owners, and 1.6 million lucky cats were adopted. Sadly, that leaves 860,000 unlucky cats ending up euthanized each year. Many of these are over 10 years old and are tragically ignored by potential adopters just because of their age.
How old is “old” in cat years? Opinions differ slightly, but according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, a 10-year-old cat is about the same age as a 53-year-old, a 12-year-old cat and a 61-year-old cat—a person and a cat Her age is 15 to 73 years old. Cats have been known to live into their early twenties. According to “Guinness World Records 2010”, Karim Puff, from Austin, lived 38 years.
Older cats need a little TLC to live a comfortable life. Regular wellness tests, medication if needed, proper food, warm places to sleep, gentle grooming, easy access to things they enjoy and lots of love will help your cat enjoy her golden years.
There are many reasons why you should consider adopting a large cat. What you see is what you get. Their personalities are well established, so you will know if they are a good fit for your family, while a cat changes as they get older. An older cat has been exposed to a lot of sights, sounds, and smells, so she will often settle into a new home more quickly. They need less supervision than a cat and thrive on routine.
When Larkspeare resident Carol Robinson decided she wanted to adopt a cat, she chose 13-year-old Athena.
“I knew I wanted a cat that would just sit on my lap and I also knew that older cats had a lower chance of being adopted, so it made sense to me,” she says.
In honor of National Pet Adoption Month, consider adopting an older cat. Kittens don’t stay in shelters for long, so by adopting an older cat you really know you’re saving a life. Adding a large cat to your family can make your life richer, happier and more peaceful.
For more information on cat behavior, visit marinhumane.org/oh-behave.
Nancy Wheeler volunteers with Marin Humane, who contributes Tails of Marin articles and welcomes questions about animals in our community. go to marinhumane.org, Twitter.com/MarinHumane, or email email@example.com.