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Adopt an Older Cat

So you're thinking of adopting a kitten. They are so cute aren't they? But have you considered adopting an adult cat? Take a look around your shelter the next time you visit. How many adult cats are waiting for someone to come along and take them to a loving home? Unfortunately, the adult animals are among the first to be euthanized because they are less likely to be adopted. In a few short months your little kitten will be an adult anyway, so why not take an adult cat home with you right from the start?

Courtesy of Sue's Graphics

Some good reasons to adopt an older cat are:

  • Adult cats are less delicate and better able to ward off potential health problems.
  • They've usually been vaccinated already, and their health history is often available.
  • Adult cats are usually calmer and less destructive.
  • Many adult cats are already trained.
  • No 2:00 a.m. kitten-crazies to disrupt your sleep. Your adult cat will be interested in sleeping instead of tearing through the house and pouncing on imaginary prey.
  • Many of the older cats in shelters are accustomed to living with children and other pets.
  • The adjustment period is more likely to be smooth and fit your lifestyle with an adult cat.

Give an Older Cat a Second Chance

Adult cats, while still curious and playful, have all the admirable qualities that come with maturity. Adult animals are often easier to train than younger pets. After all, they've lived a little and are wiser - just like their guardians. Even if you adopt a senior kitty, you will still have years of companionship and unconditional love to look forward to.
Older Cats Are Loyal Companions.

This Old Cat

I'm getting on in years, my coat is turning gray.
My eyes have lost their luster, my hearing's just okay.
I spend my whole day dreaming of conquests in my past,
Lying near a sunny window waiting for its warm repast.

I remember our first visit, I was coming to you free,
Hoping you would take me in and keep me company.
I wasn't young or handsome, two years I'd roamed the streets.
There were scars upon my face, I hobbled on my feet.

I could sense your disappointment as I left my prison cage.
Oh, I hoped you would accept me and look beyond my age.
You took me without pity, I accepted without shame.
Then you grew to love me, and I admit the same.

I have shared with you your laughter, you have wet my fur with tears.
We've come to know each other throughout these many years.
Just one more hug this morning before you drive away,
and know I'll think about you throughout your busy day.
The time we've left together is a treasured time at that.
My heart is yours forever. I promise . . . This Old Cat.

~ Used with permission of the author, KC Bingamon ~
Written for Misty-Dawn ©1998~

Visit KC's World of Beloved Cats and Poems to read more of her wonderful poetry and see a beautiful site.


The old "multiply by seven" rule no longer is recognized as a means of converting a cat's age to that of a human. The age conversion chart below is based on the very latest veterinary and behavioral research.

The general consensus is that cats reach middle age by about seven years old. Most veterinarians and animal behaviorists consider cats to be geriatric at age 10 to 12 and beyond.

The average life span for a cat has increased over the years. It is now estimated at 16 years, with some cats reaching 20 years old and more.

Age of your Cat The Human Equivalent
1 month10 months
3 months7 years
6 months14 years
9 months18 years
1 year24 years
2 years36 years
3 years42 years
4 years45 years
5 years48 years
6 years51 years
7 years54 years
8 years57 years
9 years60 years
10 years63 years
11 years66 years
12 years69 years
13 years72 years
14 years75 years
15 years78 years
16 years81 years
17 years84 years
18 years87 years
19 years90 years
20 years93 years
20+ yearsadd 3 years per
cat year
...and keep up the good work!

This chart is from Catnip - A Magazine for Caring Cat Owners, a publication by Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Petfinder and ASPCA have declared November the first annual "Adopt A Senior Pet Month."

November is


Your cat's nutritional needs vary throughout its life. Check with your vet to make sure which food would be best for your kitty and particularly if you notice any problems or reluctance to eat at mealtime.

Most cats will experience metabolic changes beginning at around seven years of age. Beyond the age of 10, specific physiological changes occur each year. For example, the immune system will begin a slow decline, the cat may begin to lose muscle mass and its body composition may change, as well. In addition, the cat's metabolic rate slows down and its sense of smell and taste fade.

An increase in vitamin E will boost the immune system. Feeding an increased protein diet helps slow down loss of muscle mass. You will also want to lower fat intake as it is common for an older cat to become plump due to a decrease in activity. These steps can be accomplished with a good senior formula cat food.

Older cats are also prone to a variety of illnesses, such as kidney disease, that require special veterinarian-approved diets. Many problems your older cat may experience can be hindered or even stopped by appropriate changes in diet.

If your aging cat appears to be in good health - it isn't too heavy or too thin - there is no reason to change your cat's diet. The rate of the aging process varies significantly between cats. Age itself is no reason to change. Many cats can tolerate an adult maintenance cat food well into their teens.



As your kitty ages, probably the most important thing you can do for him/her is to keep an eye on the gums and teeth. Tartar buildup can cause serious problems for your aging cat - as I found out with my Sam.

Sam has always been a very healthy cat and only required visits to the vet for immunizations and his Program flea injections. One day it dawned on me that he had been sitting in front of his dish and just staring at it. He did this the next day, then the next day. About this time it also dawned on me that Sam was getting thin. Since he had always been a very large cat, this was quite disturbing.

That day I made an appointment for Sam and the vet said he had tartar buildup, a loose tooth and some gum infection. We took him in the next morning for a cleaning. Sam's teeth were pretty bad and he also had to have a tooth pulled -with a caution that he wanted to watch one other tooth, as he was afraid it would have to come out too.

A couple of days later, Sam was eating and his energy level had increased to an amazing level. I know that his weight loss was a good thing for him and is one of the reasons he could run around and play again, but I am thoroughly convinced that having his teeth taken care of is largely responsible for his well-being today.

That was a couple of years ago. Now Sam has to have his teeth cleaned at least once every year. He doesn't enjoy his crunchy food as much anymore, so I am giving him more canned food, which he seems to appreciate greatly. Thanks to Sam, we now make sure that all the kitties get their teeth checked regularly and cleaned when necessary. Believe me, it's worth the investment.


If your kitty is getting stiff and has trouble moving around or getting up and down on his favorite chair or your bed, you might want to consider placing an ottoman, pillow, or something for your kitty to step up to his favorite spot. Sometimes it's just too painful to try to jump up there!

You can also order something called "Pet Steps" - steps made especially for elderly, disabled, or injured pets. They are made of plywood and covered in carpeting. They come in single, double, or triple steps and can be ordered from  C&D Pet Products  or call 1-888-554-7387.

If you're handy with a saw and hammer, the dimensions are: 16 1/2" wide. Single step - 8 1/2" high, double step - 13 1/2" high, triple step - 19" high.


Older and Wiser

Some things to watch for on your older cat:
  • Monitor his water and food intake closely. An increase in thirst can signal the onset of diabetes, kidney problems, or thyroid disease. A lack of appetite may indicate the presence of a fever.
  • Changes in urination can also be signs of illness. Is Kitty going to the box more frequently?
  • Difficulty with bowel movements can mean that he has a blockage, perhaps from a fur ball ~ a common occurrence in older cats.
  • Watch his eyes to see if there is any change in their color or clarity. Older cats often develop cataracts, a condition that is signaled by cloudiness of the lenses.
  • Watch the older cat's gums for redness or other discoloration. Gum disease is common among geriatric cats.
  • How does his coat look? A loss of luster can indicate a change in health.
  • Is he having trouble cleaning himself? You may have to help him out.
  • Nails have to be trimmed regularly because older cats are prone to infection around the nail beds.
  • Trips to the vet every six to twelve months are recommended for the older cat because of the likelihood of deterioration in health with age. Veterinary medicine has come a long way - just as human medicine has. Your vet has access to diagnostic tools and medications that are designed to keep your older cat in the best possible health.



Hyperthyroidism has become the disease of aged felines, just as the incidences of Alzheimer's disease has increased for elderly people. Although potentially fatal if unchecked, hyperthyroidism is a disease that responds well to treatment.

Experts agree that an annual blood check for felines over the age of 10 is in order to help catch early signs of this disease and possibly, more life-threatening ones such as kidney failure.

You can also ask your vet to run a geriatric panel for your kitty, which is a good tool to determine your cat's general health.


Natural Remedies for Arthritis

Sam just received this good information from the Older Cats Society Forum regarding natural remedies for arthritis. We are presently doing more research on natural remedies, but wanted to pass this along.

According to BamBam, a respected member of The Older Cats Society, "Glucosamine Sulphate is good for arthritis in kitty, but not more than 200 mg twice a day for a cat. It can be purchased at your local pet supply store. Also an antioxident sold in health food stores called SOD (sodium oxide dismutase) is a good anti-inflammatory, not more than 100 mg once a day for a cat. It's made of natural sprouts and has no side effects, at least from what I read."


Prayer for Elderly Animals

"God, Bless the Animals and help us always to be mindful of the kinds of challenges they face in the process of aging. Just like us, they find that they can't always do what they used to do, and to all animals, that is no less frustrating than it is to us. Help us to make their years as happy and productive as possible and to provide them with any help we can as they make adjustments to allow for their mounting years. Bless all elder animals, God, and let them know how much they have done and continue to do to brighten our lives. Amen."

This prayer is courtesy of   God, Bless the Animals - a nondenominational Animal Prayer Ministry based in Independence, Missouri. (Animals of all faiths are welcome!)

Please do yourself a favor and take a moment to visit this wonderful site which is strictly for the love and welfare of animals - all animals. You may have your pet prayed for daily for any situation that requires love and strength other than your own. You may also have your pet blessed here. This Animal Prayer Ministry and website are made possible through love donations.


Mature cats make great companions

It's not fun to hear about the illnesses that your beloved pet is susceptible to. I tend to hide my head in the sand when it comes to thinking of one of my kitties getting sick, but since my Sam is approaching 14 years old, I thought it was time I educated myself about older cats, rather than taking longevity for granted. I certainly am not an expert, but I have come across some good information that I thought was worth sharing.

There's Plenty of Steam in my Engine

Be good to your aging kitty. Treat him with respect, gentleness and kindness. He has been your loyal companion all these years, has always given you unconditional love, has comforted you when you were sick or sad. He deserves the very best - especially during his golden years.


Information on Caring for Your Older Cat


Sam just joined the Older Cats Society:
Older Cats Society


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