Modern Veterinary Care

When A Senior Cat Has Stolen Your Heart: Is It Too Risky To Adopt An Older Feline?

When you're looking to adopt a cat, you have a vast number of choices to make, from going to a shelter or using online classifieds to adopting a big, small, young, old, mixed, or pedigreed animal. For a lot of people, adopting an older cat doesn't seem to make sense, because they expect to somehow be short-changed. Ultimately, this isn't an accurate reflection of reality, though, since adopting an older cat can be just as sweet and rewarding as adopting a kitten, especially if you've fallen for the older feline, and really want to make them your own.

The Perks Of Welcoming An Older Cat Into Your Home

Older cats, in a sense, are less expensive than kittens, because they've most likely had all their vaccinations and been spayed or neutered. Also, genetic defects and other problematic issues that tend to surface in the first few years of life won't be a problem for you. 

Cats that have been around a while may have more refined manners, too, such as neat and tidy litter box habits, scratching on posts instead of furniture and less of the explosive energy that gets them into trouble, along with breaking items around your house. Older felines whose owners have passed away may be very affectionate and grateful toward you since you're filling a gaping emotional hole in their lives. 

What To Expect With Your New Adoptee

Depending on the cat's personality and what they may have gone through on the road to adoption, such as losing a long-term owner, being abandoned or living on the streets, your new adoptee may take to you and your household right away, or a little time may be needed for the adjustment to be made. It's typical of cats of any age to be cautious in a new environment, including hiding under beds and shying away from humans, at least at first.

Because your feline is a bit older, you can expect the proverbial cat naps to be longer and more frequent, although you can still expect curiosity, attention-seeking, and even playfulness, albeit on a milder scale than if you brought home a younger cat. Be sure to provide appropriate food, which may be indoor, weight-management, or senior formula, according to the new family member's needs.

Establishing A Health Baseline With Your Veterinarian

Once your new cat acclimates to your home and feels comfortable and secure in the new environment, or sooner if you think it's necessary, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for an examination. If you've adopted from a shelter, the cat should have had a checkup, to ensure no communicable diseases or other issues were present, but it's still a good idea to establish a baseline of health for your senior sweetie. 

The vet will thoroughly check the animal's eyes and ears, teeth, heart, bone-health and mobility, and more, looking for indications of normal age-related complications. Thereafter, on your annual visits, you can gauge the aging process accurately, treating any problems that emerge along the way. Some senior felines develop arthritis or thyroid conditions, just like older humans, and they also face challenges with obesity, similar to their human owners. Catching these things early, however, puts you at an advantage in terms of managing them.

Any animal you adopt may come with potential health and other challenges, but that's part of the process of getting to know and falling in love with a new pet. If a senior cat has caught your eye or stolen your heart, don't automatically think it can't work out because of age. Talk to your vet and take the animal in for a check-up, then you should get the green light to sign on the dotted line of the adoption papers and start enjoying your lives together.