Four Reasons to Give Senior Cats a Lifesaving Chance

March 10, 2020

senior cat being pet

By ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker

Older shelter cats are just as loving, loyal, and delightful as young ones, but typically the last to be adopted. 

Among the 3.2 million cats entering U.S. animal shelters every year are countless senior felines—those over 10 years old—tragically overlooked by potential adopters due to their age. 

Dangerous myths about these older animals often prevent them from being chosen, and in some cases, result in senior cats being among the first shelter animals to be euthanized. Common misconceptions include thinking that senior cats are less healthy than younger animals, less friendly and harder to train.

None of those assumptions are necessarily correct, and older pets actually have several advantages over their younger counterparts. Because adopting senior pets is so crucial to saving their lives, it’s essential to know and share these four key benefits: 

  • Predictable personalities: While the personalities of kittens change as they grow up, the personalities of adult animals are fully formed, which makes them more predictable. That doesn’t mean adult cats can’t learn. In fact, they can be amazingly adaptive.
  • Older cats may settle in more quickly: By the time adult cats are grown up, they are used to experiencing new sights and sounds. These animals acclimate more easily due to their typically calmer dispositions, their familiarity with home environments, and their experiences living with other animals.
  • Less need for constant monitoring: Adult cats require less supervision than kittens, who sometimes can’t distinguish between safe situations and dangerous ones. If you have children in the home, keep in mind that every cat is unique. Some are great with newborns or high-energy kids, while others are better off with older children who better understand boundaries. Always have your children spend time with potential pets as part of the adoption process.
  • They create new bonds: Age is not a determining factor in an animal’s affection or ability to develop new relationships. One of the benefits of adopting a senior cat from a shelter is that shelter staff are fully aware of the personalities and temperaments of the animals in their care and can recommend best fits for your family.  

All animals deserve safe and loving homes, but some cases are more urgent than others. Making a strong match is most likely when adopters leave their expectations and presumptions at the shelter door and understand that each animal is unique and deserving of fair consideration.

If examples help, consider the stories of NataliaGregMerv and Patty—senior cats who fortunately overcame the odds and were adopted by families who adore them no less than they would an energetic kitten.

You can play a vital role in helping senior pets by adopting one yourself, as well as by encouraging friends, family and colleagues to keep an open mind and do the same. Remember that when older animals get adopted, lives are not only rescued, but restarted.

Previously published on Animal Wellness.