In Praise of Older Cats
REHOMING AN OLDER CAT
All cat charities find it very difficult to rehome older cats and many older cats are therefore stuck pining away in pens or living rough without proper food and shelter for months and sometimes years. Any cat over 6 months old is likely to be more difficult to rehome.
Our former Branch Co-Ordinator wrote an article which appeared in our August 2006 Newsletter and it is reproduced here in the hope that it will help deserving older cats to find a home:
In Praise of Older Cats
Nowadays, cats live much longer than in the past and the fact that some ailments are more common in older cats doesn’t mean that your cat will develop them. A great many cats reach their teens and twenties with little or no sign of deterioration, gliding gracefully into old age by simply slowing down their pace of life.
Older cats are generally quieter and more sensible than kittens or young cats. They are usually used to household life and therefore more likely to doze while leaving your furnishing intact.
The mature cat is more home-loving and settled, making an excellent companion. If you enjoy pampering your cats, an older cat enjoys the attention more than a kitten. With adult and older cats, it is easier to find one that matches your personality and lifestyle.
Older cats' digestive systems become less efficient and they will require several smaller meals a day rather than two main meals.
You may consider changing the food to one that is specifically formulated for the older cat. There are many complete foods readily available in pet shops and supermarkets.
Many cats enjoy dry complete food and the crunchy texture may help to keep their teeth healthy. If you feed dried food regularly ensure there is plenty of fresh drinking water available.
There is some evidence that a cat's sense of smell deteriorates with age and this can lead to him becoming a finicky eater. Try not to be manipulated.
Older cats are less supple so may enjoy a helping hand with their grooming. Combing prevents the need for shaving or clipping later on and stops fur balls forming.
Position your cat’s bed away from draughts. Older cats cannot withstand extremes of temperature as easily as youngsters. They may have less insulating fat than young cats and so need a cosy, draught-free bed. Placing your cat’s bed beside a warm radiator at night ensures that they stay warm, especially in winter. (Although on a personal note I have found that mine still prefer my bed to anything else that I provide.)
An older cat usually snoozes through the colder times of the year. Shake out the bedding frequently to keep it fresh, vacuum and treat regularly with an anti-flea preparation.
Older cats will happily potter about the garden with you. They are usually much more home-centred and less likely to wander off on long hunting expeditions than a younger cat. If your cat has poor sight or hearing, make sure he is in a safe place when you want to mow the lawn.
One advantage of homing an older cat as opposed to a kitten is that you already know if they are a hunter or not. You may find that an older cat prefers to sit near you rather than on your lap. This is not a sign that they are snubbing your affection; depleted fat stores mean that older cats often become bonier and simply find a human lap uncomfortable to sit on. Putting a cushion or folded blanket on your lap makes it more comfortable for them to have a cuddle.
Going on Holiday
Since older cats are content to spend more time dozing, they will be quite happy if a neighbour pops in twice a day to feed and fuss over them while you take a short holiday.
If you use a cattery it is recommended that you pay an initial visit to the cattery of your choice to make sure you are happy with the standard of care. If you board your cat you will need to produce an up-to-date vaccination certificate.
I can strongly recommend the adoption of an older cat; they are great fun but in a different way from a younger one.
I have two 13 year old cats, a male called Indigo and a female called Ochra. Indigo still does his daily rounds after breakfast to the neighbours to say hello and to see if he can cadge a soft bed for a while before heading home for his tea. Ochra now rarely leaves the house but can usually be found in one of two places. She is either on the back of the sofa, which is above the radiator and in front of the window, a fantastic vantage point and with under floor heating! What more could a cat want? - or on my bed, snoozing the day away. What a life!
Both are extremely affectionate and still have their mad 5 minutes every day. Both like to be on my lap, so I spend a lot of time sitting down with my feet up to ensure I have enough lap for both cats. It’s a great excuse to relax for so long!
You should try it too !!