Too Old To Rescue A Cat?

Senior Person with Cat

Senior Person with Cat. She looks great company for a cat.

Can you be too old to adopt a rescue cat? Well, yes, if you are very ill or infirm as well as old because you’d be incapable of looking after a cat. What if you are 90 years old and still fit mentally and physically? Would it be fair of a person at a cat rescue center to say to you that you are too old to take a young cat and that you should only be given an old cat or no cat at all?

The reason is obvious, a young cat is likely to outlive an elderly person. But the cat might not. And the cat might not find another person who comes up to the shelter to adopt the cat. And what about the 90 year old? Does a cat rescue center take her feelings and needs into account at all? What if she is desperately lonely and loves the cat she has chosen at the shelter and the cat has chosen her?

Why can’t a rescue center let a 90 year old person who is otherwise a really good candidate take a young cat with the proviso that when she dies the cat is returned to the shelter if the cat outlives her. This would seem fair to me rather than the shelter insisting on the 90 year old person having to provide a stand-in person to take over cat caretaking on her death.

I would seem to me that anyone who has the facilities and the correct mentality and funding should be allowed to adopt a cat of any age from a cat shelter because the cat’s life is almost guaranteed to be better at least for a while. And then, if needs be, the cat can restart the adoption process if it goes wrong. To restart would not be ideal but how many young people adopt from cat rescue centers and bring the cat back soon afterwards with a poor excuse.

The difficulty in refusing to allow an elderly person to adopt a rescue cat is that the shelter management have to guess whether the person is likely to survive the cat. That will be a vague guess because, for example, someone of 82 could be very fit and ideal. If you refuse that person a cat perhaps no one else as good will come along to step into his shoes.

Old people are the best people to care for cats for obvious reasons. They are at home all the time usually and they have the funds, facilities and often a more sensible approach tempered with a bit of wisdom. The ideal nature of the older person should be weighed against the short remaining lifespan and the disruption that that might bring.

Do cat shelters have an unwritten rule about the age of candidate adopters of rescue cats? And if they do, what is it? My bet is that there is no common rule. It is probably down to individual shelters and even individual people.

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Comments

Too Old To Rescue A Cat? — 12 Comments

  1. Good argument Michael, I can dimly remember hearing that this happened in our area a good few years back, an elderly man was refused a young cat purely because of his age and in a way you can see the point of it not only because the cat will probably outlive the human but also because as we all know a kitten is hard work at first. But I don’t see why someone who adores cats should be denied the pleasure, and why a young cat should lose the chance of a loving home on the basis of age alone. It’s a tough one. I think if I was left alone in my old age I’d ask a shelter for a cat that had been unrehomeable, one that had been there for a long time for any reason, hopefully one that wouldn’t want to go outside, but as a fosterer on the understanding that if I popped my clogs and the cat was left it would then be taken back by the shelter.

    • I agree. Thanks Babz. I just feel shelters could manage this with a little imagination and discretion because sometimes a old person might be just perfect for a cat and the shelter people won’t realise it. They’ll write him or her off just on age. It seems too black and white for me.

  2. I think its a good idea to allow it with the conditions mentioned. Either it returns if the owner dies or goes to somebody else who the owner chooses and who then registers with the shelter as the person who will take over caring for the cat should the owner die. These are logical and good ideas. And maybe an elderly person can save an elderly cat which is even better. Why not? As long as possibilities are officially and legally accounted for so the cat is looked after one way or another then it would be silly to not allow it. I am guessing there are no rules about it in general throughout shelters.

    • I feel there might be a slight prejudice against the senior citizen who is say in his or her 80s. These people might have 5-10 years to go and the potential to give a cat a really nice life. I hope people at shelters realise it.

  3. Michael, wheather caring for cats or living life to the hilt, age is just a “NUMBER”. A person of 30 years of age can be physically older than a person of 50 years of age, similarly a person at eighty can be fitter than a person at 60 , hence using age as a criteria for disqualification is absurd.Thanks to modern medication, health care, elderly people are leading active lives post retirement age, indulging in hobbies they couldn’t while employed or running their own private enterprise.Owning pets by the elderly population is the best companionship, besides the pets are better cared if the elderly person rarely leaves the residence.Hence a person at age 90, 80, or 70 should not be denied from maintaining a pet unless totally physically or financially unfit to maintain the same.

    • I agree with everything you say. It makes sense. For the reasons you give, to discriminate on age is incorrect. There is a lot of age discrimination in the world, certainly in the West.

  4. My friend Ingrid was 41 when she succumbed to terminal cancer last year, leaving her beloved cat Zuli behind. She found someone to care for her furry friend, but until arrangements were made I know Zuli’s fate worried Ingrid. How could the shelter who gave Zuli to Ingrid have known that a woman barely middle aged would be gone in a few years? On the other hand, there is Adela at my church who soon will turn 99. She lives on her own, doesn’t use a cane or walker and is mentally sharp. I don’t know if she has a pet. But had Adela come to a shelter for a cat at the same time Ingrid took Zuli home, that shelter denying a cat to Adela and giving one to Ingrid would have done that exactly wrong. We can only judge by how things are today. We can’t see tomorrow. If shelters are going to start making elderly people show they have made arrangements for an animal after their demise, then make all clients do so. I’ve often thought about what would happen to my sister’s cat Kobe and my Monty if my husband, sister and I all perished in a car accident. We often travel up north together, in all types of weather. It is a problem I am working on solving, but it’s hard because all the best candidates already have dogs, or they are elderly and not really willing to take on the burden of caring for a pet again. My mom had to see my last childhood pet Mittens through her final illness and make the decision to put her down finally. I would not want to put her through that again. Both cats are not good with strangers– Kobe is skittish and Monty growls at new people. Does this mean we shouldn’t have cats , since there is a risk that they would be left homeless? I guess this topic should motivate all of us to make preparations for our pets in the event of our death or serious illness/accident. But I think shelters should simply allow the elderly to foster the cat they desire. Then it is already arranged that the cat comes back to the shelter when the inevitable occurs. In the meantime the animals have a foster home, which saves their lives and opens up space on the adoption floor.

    • In the right hand column you’ll see a subscription panel where you can drop in your email address and get notifications of new articles by email. There is no sign in other than that. Nice to meet you.

  5. i dont know how old is my grand mother is..but she is very old and she had 2 cats.. one died because its too old and the other one her name is “bird” is 24 years old 🙂 .

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