Do oldies make better pets?

By Danielle from Ark on the Edge

Over the last 4 weeks here at Ark on the Edge rescue centre we have seen a massive increase in the number of elderly cats being adopted. To name just a few: Pod, a 16 year old stray, Suki a 10 year old female black cat, Leo and Barley 10 year old ginger brothers and Binx 10 year old black female stray

Rescue cats Binx and Hattie at Ark on the Edge

Rescue cats Binx and Hattie at Ark on the Edge

So do older cats make better pets? Well, it depends on YOU! Older cats have a defined personality – which sometimes cannot be seen in young kittens until they get a bit older; Older cats tend to be fully litter trained; older cats tend to be less maintence than kittens (who usually have to watched as closely as hawks!)

When someone comes to my centre and they have never owned a cat before, they usually say something along the lines of “I’d like a kitten, so I can teach it right from wrong as its growing up”; however, I tend to recommend older cats for people who have never owned a cat, just from personal experience myself – my first cat was a 16 year old female with hyperthyroidism called Queenie (she is still going strong with me at almost 18 years old) and she taught me an awful lot on how to look after cats and she is no trouble!

Now, don’t get me wrong here – I’m not a kitten hater! Lol. But I think sometimes people don’t realise the amount of effort that goes into raising and looking after a kitten; most of the time, they haven’t quite worked out how to use their claws and teeth without unintentially hurting during play and they require an awful lot of attention as they can get themselves into a few scrapes.

Of course, this can happen with any cat of any age, but getting into scrapes tends to be more common with kittens (we once had a lady who had to call the fire bridgade out because a kitten had gone up her chimney and was refusing to come down!)

Kittens make fantastic pets, for people that have the time and drive into caring for them. And they are incredibly funny to watch rushing around at the speed of light; after some random thing that has caught their attention, and of course the joy, to have an animal from the very beginning of its life, to the very end is a wonderful; kittens normally are adopted like hot cakes. And yet the older ones, are always overlooked. Yes, older cats have their issues also; but I’d be interested to hear stories of your cats.


Associated page: DYLAN The Fundraising Rescue Cat


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Do oldies make better pets? — 14 Comments

  1. Thanks for the post Danielle. I have raised kittens and adopted older cats.

    These days, as I am older myself, I prefer older cats although they are all equal to me.

    Older cats are a bit more savvy and know the ropes and are perhaps less of a worry. Caring for a cat can be worrying at times.

    I wonder if younger people prefer younger cats and older people prefer older cats. If that is true it is people liking their own, animals that are like them so they get on better. Makes sense to me.

  2. Good article Danielle, very thought provoking!
    Kittens are hard work, there’s no doubt about that, so you need a lot of energy and as you say, eyes like a hawk lol
    We’ve had both cats and kittens over 39 years now and had some adventures but our Walter who is twelve years old now was the kitten from hell lol it was a full time job keeping him out of mischief and from pestering poor Ebony who was a lot older.
    Then along came Jozef, another tiny bundle of fluff and yes they did entertain each other but got up to allsorts too and were great fun to watch!
    I think two kittens together are less work than just one, but yes older cats are definitely easier, when Popsy came along at three years old she slotted in with no fuss at all.
    There are so many older cats needing homes so it’s good to remind people about them and what wonderful characters they are.
    The photo is of the young Walt and Jo play fighting.

    • I love the baby picture of Jo and Walt. I wish I could have caught Monty’s siblings and raised them together. It just wasn’t meant to be. I think Monty is too set in his ways as an only cat at this point. He has never had to share. Luckily, there are many days I am home all day and very few days where he is not able to get outside for at least a little while.

  3. I adore all felines. But, I have to agree that older cats are easier in many ways. I’ve had a few that came to me with somewhat less desirable behavior (like doing their business in houseplants), but there was nothing that wasn’t easy to take care of. Since I’m more easily redirected than any cat, I threw out all the plants. I threw out all the miniblinds too!
    Kittens are such a joy, but I’ve known some people who lose interest once they grow up. I tell ANYONE that wants to adopt a kitten not to if they don’t like cats. The cat rescue group that I am most closely associated with works hard to match up older cats with older people.

    • match up older cats with older people..

      You agree with me 😉 – that older cats suit older people. However, that doesn’t always follow as Danielle states.

      Older cats are easier to care for except for health. Health problems come on at old age just like people. You have to be prepared to deal with them with fortitude. You have to expect them.

      • Exactly! Matching the right cat to the right people is a big part of my job – some people may want a certain cat which I know isn’t right for them or doesn’t suit their lifestyle efc – so it’s a delicate procedure – our return rate is less than 5% at ark on the edge – which is a great news!
        Matching cats to owners is a difficult thing sometimes but it works!!

      • I work in a sheltered housing complex and one of my tenants wanted a cat. I agreed with only one condition; an older cat who was good with other cats. This was for various reasons; a. the tenant had poor mobility so less likely to fall over an older cat unlike a skittish kitten. b. My tenant was in his senior years so a kitten would very likely outlive him and have to be re-homed. c. I have other tenants to consider so a kitten tearing around communal gardens wouldn’t go down well (I have to consider everyone!) d. I have other cats living at the scheme so didn’t want to upset them.

        Harry has been with my tenant for about 18 months now and he’s wonderful :). He was 8 when we spotted him on the CPL website, my tenant had the home visit and it was decided that with a lovely new adopted dad, a ground floor flat and lovely gardens Harry couldn’t wish for anything better!

        He was so scared for the first few weeks and wouldn’t come from behind the chair because he had been with his first dad for 8 years who then died and Harry was sent to the CPL 🙁

        Harry is now the most wonderful confident cat! Neighbours feed him and spoil him when dad goes on holiday and he couldn’t wish for a better life!

        So its is possible to match an older cat with an older person!

  4. Thanks guys – loving the replies – like I said in the article – my first ever cat queenie was 16 when I adopted her and I think for me – it was easier with an older cat as it wasn’t as much work as a kitten and taught me how to look after a cat – but as like dee said – older cats can have issues too
    Working in a rescue I think I would always chose an older cat now – just because I know how much work it takes to look after kittens lol

    • I never would have chosen a kitten. But I caught Monty at about eight weeks of age and the rest is history. I’m enjoying the fact that he’s a little older now. He still does get rambunctious at times, but our routines are established, and that’s so nice. I know he won’t leave the yard– he simply does not climb over the fence even though he could. When he was young I didn’t know what he might do outside. We also discovered what trees he gets stuck in and can’t get out of by himself and we blocked his access to those with chicken wire.

      Inside the house things are easier as well– he’s getting more snugly, tolerating more affection from us. He’s also getting better with company– he doesn’t hiss and growl at strangers as much. Of course, since Monty had no human contact before eight weeks, his socialization has been more of a challenge than for most cats. Had we had access to him at a younger age and had he been able to be with his kitty mom for a longer time, his personality would be quite different. But I love him just as he is: four years old, with a bit of a wild streak, but definitely bonded well to my husband and I, with a love of outside (and inside) adventures and exploring.

  5. I love kittens but I’ve always said that the older a cat gets the more her/his purrsonality shines through, older cats have character and habits that evolve alongside their purrson, the longer they know you, and you know them the stronger your relationship grows just like it does with a purrson. It’s sad the way older cats are overlooked, if only people would make the effort to get to know an older cat they would realise what a loving & pleasant companion they could have without any of the nightmare kitten stage beforehand.

  6. What a lovely article by Danielle I just love stories from Rescue Shelters and it warms my heart to hear about older cats getting adopted.
    It seems worse somehow for older cats being there as it means someone has discarded them for some reason probably someone who should never have had a cat as a cat should be for life.

    • I was just thinking of that the other day, Rose, how I could never give Monty up, but so many people do just that. I remember Elisa writing about people turning in a cat as a stray to a shelter, but the cat smelled of clean laundry. The cat obviously had been sitting in a basket of clean clothes just out of the dryer before it was unceremoniously picked up and dumped at the shelter. Monty was helping me with my household chores and it just made me so sad to think a cat could go from “helping” his human right to being thrown away by his human. It’s so unfair.

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