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Why Adopt an Older Cat?

Updated on November 4, 2015

Holly Enjoying the Day on My Lounger


Meet Holly My Very Own Golden Oldie. Why foster or adopt an older Cat?

To foster or adopt an older cat can be very rewarding but just what can you expect from this new relationship? Each cat is different and each situation is too, but it is very rewarding to give your new found furry friend comfort and love in their retirement years.

So often older cats find themselves without a home or love because either people just can't afford the spiraling costs of vet bills or they are just passed over for the newer more entertaining kittens.

Lens Photo by Author

How I Discovered The Joys of Older Cat "Ownership"

I sat in tears all my cat things scattered around me with the only reminder of my cat the constant stream of cat fur no matter how many times I vacuumed! The day had come when the cat things had to go to charity and I would have to put my best friend behind me.

I just couldn't do it. I popped them all in a bag and put them away.

I was not going to get another cat.

But I felt guilty, I had a loving home complete with everything a cat would need or want just waiting and there were so many cats in need of homes.

Holly Relaxing


Fostering or Adopting an Older Cat

I discovered that you can foster older cats and help out the charities and unlike fostered younger cats they stay with you for their retirement. It is unfortunate that the charity has stopped doing this now and I feel very strongly that they are wrong to do so and depriving old cats of homes.

Cats over the age of 16 are usually left on the shelf in favor of young cats and kittens, so what they do is rather than people own a cat they have a group of foster carers who take on the old cats. They pretty much do everything as an owner would but the charity continues to pay for vet costs and maintain ownership of the cat and the say of the treatment. This frees up the pen for another cat and gives the old cat happy and loving retirement years.

This is what I decided to do with Holly.

Photo by Author

A Bit about Golden Oldie "Ownership"

Life of An Older Cat Called Holly

Holly enjoying the sunny weather having acquired my old lounge chair. Guess where I get to sit? Yep that's right on the floor!

Looking after an older cat is very rewarding and much more demanding than normal cat ownership because let's face it cats don't really need us anywhere as much as we need them. But when it comes to the Golden Oldies they do need us.

Holly is really good for her age but it is clear that things are starting to give out. Sometimes she jumps up and just can't do it anymore. It breaks my heart. Yet at the same time I admire her dignity and determination in the face of her aging body. Holly is being treated for arthritis and she is missing most of her teeth.

The truth is I don't think we every really own a cat, but with the Golden Oldie Scheme (which sadly has been closed now) you only foster the cat. The cat continues to belong to the charity and the charity decides and pays for any vet bills.

My Very Own Golden Girl

What is life like with an older cat?

When you adopt an older cat what can you expect? Truthfully I don't know. I don't know either you or your prospective cat or where you live etc. I can only share my own experience.

The Meeting

The meeting did not go well. Holly was in a small introduction cage having just been transported across the county then taken to the vets and now in the home shelter. She was stressed and didn't want to know about anything.


When she arrived she just went crazy looking in every corner, climbing everything. She did not actually really ever settle while I lived in the Annex.

The Coldest Winter on Record

Things didn't go well that winter. Normally a mild climate it was really cold. Where I lived was impossible to heat you'd just as well roll up the money and burn it, you'd get just about as much heat. We were both miserable. Although I wrapped her up and kept her as warm as possible it was miserable so when somewhere else came up we moved.

New Home

Holly settled to her new home immediately and we both saw in the New Year in our New Home. Yep that's right moved in for New Years Day! Things improved when we moved to a cozy cottage and we were both warm. Holly settled in very quickly enjoying her new surroundings.

Please Don't Overlook Older Cats

Older cats are often overlooked for various reasons. It is so sad as they make great pets and are often best as they has seen it all and got the Tshirt. Older cats sleep longer and often like more time with their new owners.

If you cannot afford an older cat perhaps one of the charities will let you look after their cats as often charities will pay vet bills as they have many older cats. Sometimes these come from older people who for different reasons can no longer keep their pets.

The Painful End

It is with great sadness that my time with Holly came to an end. She died on March 2, 2015 at 8.30 am after a brief but intense time. Her poor little body was failing her, but her spirit was as strong as ever.

I had her almost 5 years in the end, in spite of being told it could only be weeks or months.

Having an older cat was indeed a challenge. Emotionally more than anything. For those who are reading this and have a younger cat. Please consider keeping them, but get insurance so that you can give them the best of everything they need.

Holly needed lots of vet check ups. Rearrangement of furniture and a lot more warmth than a younger cat.

She became senile and fussy with food (no I mean FUSSY!!!). She'd change her mind on a meal by meal basis.

But I wouldn't change a thing. I know I gave her 5 years of the best I could do and 5 years of comfort and love.

RIP Holly

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Looking After an Elderly Cat

Special Needs of Older Cats

While this will vary from cat to cat I have found that there are special needs of an older cat and these increase as they near the end of their life. Some things are quite common. And I am fairly sure I went through most of them with Holly. (NOTE: I am not a vet. This is just my experience. Always go to your vet for professional advice)

  1. They are more likely to get arthritis.
    Although this can be maintained. Visit your vet for advice. Holly was on Meticam.
  2. They cannot always eat very much in one go, and as mentioned can become fussy. This could be due to several factors which can include illness, becoming senile, difficulty in digesting or just losing appetite. I found little and often a great help. Sometimes the only way I could get her to eat anything was if she thought the food was mine and if I hand fed her. Seriously once I even did that baby thing where I pretended to eat her food!
  3. They need more warmth. Holly had a heated pad in a covered bed and lots of blankets to keep her warm. Heaty pads should only be used it the cat can move away.
  4. Sleeping. Cats sleep a lot anyway but older cats sleep even more. (Yes I know I didn't think that possible either!)
  5. Weight loss. This may be due to a medical condition but it can also be just ageing.
  6. Pooing. Oh Joy. Older cats can have difficulty in this area so keep an eye on it.
  7. Litter tray. As they are not so mobile they will need a tray. It should be easy to get into and not too far away but not too close to their food either.
  8. Peeing. If they have kidney problems they will pee a lot. Even if on medication the peeing will increase.
  9. Last but not least - Unconditional love and lots and lot of it. Not easy sometimes when there is a trail of blood or poo all through the house. But there is no point in making them feel bad if you can help it.

Adopt an Older Cat Guestbook Comments

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    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 2 years ago

      Wonderful story. I'm glad you and Holly had five good years together. All my cats have been rescue cats, mostly kittens that have come to our house or that have been given to us. In the last 30 years, all but three have been healthy and happy animals, however, one only lived to be about five years old and it broke my heart when he died. Right now we have a 14-year-old diabetic cat. We've had him since Halloween 2001. His insulin runs us about $1,000 a year in addition to the vet bills, but we wouldn't consider putting this beautiful, loving family member down.

      When our 19-year-old baby died four years ago, Tas went into a big depression, so we got an older kitten similar to her as a companion to him. There was a beautiful older cat that I wanted, but we were afraid to adopt an older cat because Tas is so fragile and we were afraid an adult cat might injure him. It took two years, they now are best friends and Tas is more active than he was with our older cat that died.

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      I would have no qualms about loving & nursing an adopted older cat. The issue is the expense, based on the vet bills for our 2 previous cats in their last couple years of life. I love your pix of Holly!

    • profile image

      johnsja 5 years ago

      I love cats no matter what age. Great lens.

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 5 years ago from State of Confussion

      With our family age doesn't matter. We get all kinds of pets at our house.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 5 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      I really admire you for your courage. The older cat will only be with you for 2 to 3 more years and then you will be doing it again. I imagine that is what puts people off, but Holly is adorable and would melt most people's hearts.

      Robin our cat just walked in and adopted us, we had not wanted a cat as two dogs and 5 horses were plenty to keep us busy (3 are ours and 2 board). This said he is a joy to have around. I wish more people would be like you and adopt the older cats too.