Chasing an adolescent cat around, or fearing that a tiny kitten will get into trouble around your home often requires more stress, energy and time than people are willing to give. Most of us dream about having easy-going pets that are neither too demanding, too emotionally needy, or too time-consuming to care for. This is where pet adoption comes in. Opting for a mild-mannered older cat, who knows how to use the litter box, and is not interested in vying for the “alpha male” position in the house, or spraying his scent everywhere, might be just the ticket! Here are some tips to keep in mind if you decide to adopt a senior cat.
Divulge all the details early on. When you visit a rescue shelter to view the animals there, make sure you communicate clearly with the staff about what you are looking for. Let them know all your living arrangements, your work schedule, availability, the frequency of visitors, the noise level in your neighborhood. The more information you can give them, the better prepared they will be in connecting you with a cat who will fit in that environment. Some older cats can really struggle to adapt if the conditions are particularly chaotic or challenging, so the more the staff know, the better.
Have the cat examined by your vet. One of the benefits of choosing to adopt a cat from a rescue home is that the animals there are provided with the basic quality healthcare needs. However, if the pet was a stray for a long time, or brought to the shelter later in life, much of their health history will be unknown. As soon as you have adopted your pet, get him a full medical examination with a health care professional.
Be patient. As the adage goes, old cats struggle to learn new tricks too. From the moment you bring your pet home, everything will be different to him. The smells, the sights, even you. All of this will take time adjusting to, making it hard for a cat to feel comfortable in his new home right away. Give him plenty of time to make the space his own, and be cautious not to approach him too suddenly or expressively while he is learning to trust you as a “safe” person.
Keep everything simple. Try to avoid loud music, or leaving windows open where the sound of the streets can send your cat into a tizzy! Have friends stay away for the initial 1-2 weeks while your new pet is learning the ropes. Feed on the same schedule, keep routines, and don’t move the litter box or the cat bed once you have decided on a space. The simpler you can keep things in the first few weeks, the more well-adjusted and content your elderly cat will be.