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Feline Maturity: Adopting an Older Cat
Kittens are difficult to resist, with their huge eyes and penchant for falling all over themselves. It takes a lot of work, though, to train kittens not to develop bad habits such as sharpening their claws on your cashmere scarf.
Shelters often have difficulty finding homes for older cats, but adopting a mature cat has hidden benefits. Choose the right adult or even senior feline for you, and she's likely to return the favor with years of sedate but heart-felt affection.
10 Reasons to Adopt a Mature Cat
- Older cats tend to be less destructive. As veterinarian Karen Becker puts it, mature felines are "well past the search-and-destroy phase."
- Older cats have established personalities. Once you're past the initial get-to-know-you phase, you know what you're in for.
- Adult cats have been trained. Not only do they use the litter box, but they're more likely to get the concept of "approval and reward."
- Adult cats can tolerate rougher treatment than kittens. If you have small children at home, an older cat is less likely to accidentally scratch or bite – she knows enough to make herself scarce if necessary.
- You're less likely to be in for unpleasant surprises with mature cats. You already know how big she'll get, what type of fur she'll have and what her temperament will be like.
- You're more likely to bond quickly with a mature cat. They somehow sense you've given them a second chance, and they react with gratefulness.
- Mature cats are more relaxing as companions, especially for senior citizens. They don't have excess energy and require less maintenance than a kitten.
- Mature cats are less needy. They're independent, likely to while away the hours in a cozy spot while you're away at work.
- An older cat makes a better patient. When you need to take her to the cat clinic for a booster shot or teeth cleaning, she already knows the drill.
- An adult cat is ready-to-go. She's more likely to have been spayed or neutered and fully vaccinated.
Adopting a Mature Feline
What do you think about adopting a senior cat?
How to Choose a Mature Cat
If you're adopting an adult cat from a shelter or cat clinic, she's been checked out and is certified to be healthy. However, you may be thinking of answering an ad in the newspaper or heeding a colleague's plea to adopt a cat headed for the shelter. Look for the following signs to ensure the cat is healthy:
- Weight: The cat should have a discernible waist. You should be able to feel her ribs, but they shouldn't be protruding.
- Fur: Her coat should be glossy and tangle-free. The skin underneath needs to be clean and unbroken.
- Mouth: Her gums should be pink with no red or white spots. Though older cats naturally lose teeth, ensure she has enough to eat easily.
- Face: Her eyes and nose should be clear and free of discharge. Her ears need to be clean and white.
Spend a little time with an older cat, and you'll get a sense for how she'll fit into your life. Once you've decided to welcome a mature feline into your home, keep her healthy with regular visits to the cat clinic. You'll both be grateful for the low-maintenance companionship.
Lindemann was by no means a senior cat when I adopted him. At seven years old, he still isn't. However, he was already three when I rescued him from the Boulder Valley Humane Society.
When I was younger, I always opted for kittens. However, with my last two cats, I specifically chose adult cats. It's not so much I didn't want the hassle of a kitten. It's that I felt I was doing a good deed in adopting an adult cat. Kittens always get adopted. Sometimes adult cats don't. Senior cats rarely do.
I wonder sometimes about Lindemann's former family. He was neutered as a kitten. He is not only house trained, he's a love bug -- he genuinely loves his people. He's a terrible hunter. Yet the Humane Society picked him up on the streets, and no one came looking for him in two months' time. I wonder how they could let him go.
Well, ultimately, their loss was my gain. Kittens are great. But I enjoy the fulfillment that comes from having adopted an adult cat.