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Senior Cat Adoption: How You Can Help the Most Vulnerable

silver tabby with a grey scarf

If you are considering adding a cat to your house, you may have automatically found yourself looking at cute, cuddly kittens. There is no denying that they are adorable! However, kittens aren’t the only cats searching for their perfect forever home. In fact, there are many incredible older cats that will live out the rest of their days in a shelter or rescue for no other reason than their age. That’s why I am going to take a moment today to focus on the importance of senior cat adoption!

According to Humane Canada, Canadian shelters took in more than 81,000 cats in 2018 alone. It’s a staggering number and a reflection of just how important the work of animal shelters and rescues across the country continues to be today.

Many of these cats will go on to find their forever home while others will live out their remaining days in a shelter or foster home.

What decides which cats are adopted? There are several factors, but one big consideration is their age.

Related: ‘Easy Homemade Cat Treats with Pumpkin

Cute, cuddly kittens are often the fastest to be adopted, while senior cats are often overlooked.

These sweet older cats have so much love to give.  

I will admit, we adopted both of our cats at a young age. Jinx was just a baby needing additional care due to her age while Pippen was 9 months old.

However, as they have both grown older, we have had the opportunity to see the incredible cats that they have both become.

At this point, our sweet girl Pippen is 13 years old and still a loving and playful companion.

As the old saying goes, age is just a number and Pippen is a perfect example of just how true that is!

long-haired tortoiseshell cat
Our sweet senior girl Pippen

5 Benefits of Senior Cat Adoption

Calmer Companions

While kittens are cute, they are also a lot of work. They are high-energy, playful, and mischievous, getting into anything and everything that they can get their little paws on.

This means that you will have to do more work to kitten-proof your home and keep them safe.

On the other hand, a senior cat has already been through their ‘crazy kitten phase’ and is often more concerned with finding a quieter, stable place to live out the rest of their lives.

They often sleep more and may even be more affectionate.

You Know Their Quirks and Personality

When you adopt a senior cat, they are already familiar with who they are and what they like which means that what you see is what you get.

You can find out from the rescue or shelter whether they are comfortable with dogs or children, if they are more energetic or more laid back, if they have a more dominant personality and more.

Kittens are still learning and developing, making it all a guessing game.

Related: ‘Get Rid of ‘Cat Smell’ For Good with These Tips

They are Cleaner Housemates

With their curious and energetic personalities and their need to learn by engaging directly with their environment, kittens tend to leave a path of destruction in their wake.

This includes broken or chewed-up belongings, litter flung all over the house, and more.

Depending on the age of the kitten that you are considering, there may also be some messes and accidents as you work through the process of litter training.

Additionally, many kittens are still learning how to navigate the basics, like food dishes, knocking their food all over the place during mealtimes.

Senior cats aren’t perfect, by any means, but they are usually less messy and destructive.

Senior Cat Adoption Means Saving a Life (and They Know it)

This may sound a little ‘out there’ to many of you, but if you know, you know…

Senior cats tend to have a better understanding of their situation and the fact that you have rescued them and given them a better life.

They are grateful for what you have done, and this can quickly lead to a close bond built on their true appreciation.

Be An Inspiration to Others

Not only will your decision to foster or adopt a senior cat make a difference in the life of the cat that has come into your home, but it can inspire others to make the same decision.

Your friends and family will have the opportunity to follow your journey and see how much joy it brings you.

In the future, when they are ready to bring a cat into their own home, this can inspire them to also consider senior cat adoption.

Active on social media? You will never know how many people you may be inspiring!

white Persian cat being held in an elderly woman's lap

Silver Whiskers Foster Program

I recently learned about an amazing program being run right here in Ontario, Canada by a local organization called Street Cats Rescue.

The Silver Whiskers Foster Program is focused on creating a mutually beneficial situation for cats and their fosters.

The program pairs senior cats with elderly individuals in a permanent foster home arrangement.

This means that the cats that otherwise would have lived their lives in a shelter will live out the remainder of their days in a loving home, giving their love and affection to someone that is also in need of companionship.

At the same time, the cats are considered fosters meaning that the rescue is responsible for costs such as their veterinary care and any special foods that they may require.

Related: ‘How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching Furniture

The pilot program started with two sweet senior cats, 18-year-old Roxy and 17-year-old Lakeside Lady, both of which were placed with loving foster parents.

Street Cats Rescue is now looking to expand on this effort; however, it will depend on their ability to cover the program’s costs.

This program has the potential to help many more!

If you are inspired by their efforts to make a difference for the senior cats in their care, consider donating to help keep this program running.

Other Ways You Can Help

Are you looking for other ways that you can make a difference for senior cats in your area?

If you aren’t able to foster or adopt and this time and prefer to keep your support local, there are many ways that you can still help.

Contact your local cat shelter or rescue organization to discuss any programs that they may have.

Many shelters will be open to the possibility of people donating towards the adoption fee of a senior cat to increase their chances of finding their forever home.

Additionally, you can volunteer at the shelter, donate much-needed pet supplies, and help to share the word about senior cats that are currently on the search for that perfect family.

silver tabby with a grey scarf, text asks: senior cat adoption, how can you help those in need?

Cat Parents – I would love to hear all your stories about senior cat adoption and the joy that your senior cats have brought into your life in the comments below!

About Author

Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her ‘pack’ which includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.

34 Comments

  • Nkem
    September 16, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    This is the first commentary I’ve seen on senior cats, Most are about dogs. Thank you for sharing such great tips!

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 9:35 am

      Sadly, cats are often overlooked and overshadowed and it can be seen by the number that are found in rescues and shelters across the country.

      Reply
  • Edith Aguirre
    September 16, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    This is a great blog, I hope one-day people will be more aware and help out even more. I love animals and me too I do everything I can to help.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 9:34 am

      It doesn’t take much to help and make a difference, does it?

      Reply
  • Alexis
    September 17, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    Such a great post and message to share! After one of my kitties passed, we decided to take the step to get a new furry friend. We wanted a cat around 1-4 years old so they’d be calm but still fairly young at the time. We walked out with a 9-year-old cat, which we didn’t realize until we got home that we got the wrong paperwork and she was actually years older than we originally thought. But now years later she’s a big part of our family! We didn’t expect to get a nearly senior cat, but we love her nonetheless.

    Sorry for the long story! I really appreciate you posting this and help save cats.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 9:34 am

      That’s such a beautiful story. I am a firm believer that sometimes it’s just meant to be. Clearly she was meant to be yours, even if you didn’t realize that your planned age bracket was off lol

      Reply
  • Michelle & The Paw Pack
    September 18, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    Senior pets rule! I never knew how much I loved senior animals until some of my personal pets got older. I used to always prefer younger animals, but now thinking about the one and only kitten I ever had literally climbing the walls makes me cringe, lol. I’d totally adopt a senior cat if I could. Sadly, my partner is very allergic to cats. I do donate quite a bit to our local shelters, though. One of my favorites specializes in adopting out senior animals.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 9:32 am

      Both of our current cats were adopted young. That being said, if we were to consider another cat, I would definitely go older! I love that they are more affectionate and a little calmer, so they don’t tend to get the dogs as worked up either lol

      Reply
  • Ruth Epstein
    September 18, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    I have never adopted a kitten or puppy, I always adopt older pets as they need homes and are more settled and mellow. Layla as a senior speaks out for seniors all the time as unfortunately there are so many in the shelters. Senior pets rock

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 8:22 am

      They really are often overlooked and it breaks my heart. They still have so much love to give to their new person. Lucifer is the first puppy that we have adopted at the puppy puppy stage but we did get both of our cats young. That being said, I would be completely open to bringing an older cat into our house after seeing how incredible they truly are first-hand.

      Reply
  • Terri
    September 18, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    I love the Silver Whiskers Program idea! There’s research on how, cats in particular, help to improve the health and quality of life for the elderly, which makes perfect sense. This type of program really should be worldwide. Great article!

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 8:03 am

      I would LOVE to see this program extend far beyond the one rescue here that is running it. It’s a true win/win for everyone involved. Hopefully other rescues and organizations will look to this arrangement and be inspired.

      Reply
  • Marjorie Dawson
    September 18, 2021 at 6:42 pm

    We adopt seniors by choice. Our Harvey was the most amazing cat, a tough life behind him, he had years of joy and love with us, so I loved the idea of Silver Whiskers. How brilliant is this! An older cat a relaxed older home – perfect.

    YES, senior cats know they are lucky to find a home, and yes they let you know they appreciate you. How? By relaxing into your trust and accepting your love and care. They are there fore you and they are happy.

    Out of choice? I’d adopt a senior every single time.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 8:02 am

      I am absolutely in love with the efforts of the Silver Whiskers Program and will definitely be supporting it moving forward. It’s truly a win/win for everyone involved.

      Reply
  • Robin
    September 19, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    I have a senior cat. I adopted her as a kitten, but Manna is now 15 years old. She has gotten so much sweeter in her later years. She didn’t start sitting in my lap until she was about 10 years old, now she is in my lap all of the time. I wouldn’t skip Manna’s golden years for anything! Senior cats are totally pawsome.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 7:55 am

      That sounds so much like my girl Pippen. She was a very nervous and high-energy kitten but now she has settled into her golden years as a total cuddle bug.

      Reply
  • Jana Rade
    September 19, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    I think that senior cats can be a wonderful choice of a companion for many people. For example, my mom started by adopting kittens, and she was in way over her head. So I’m hoping she’ll try a senior cat next time.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 7:52 am

      I think that’s far too common. People always jump to bring home a young kitten only to find that they are much more work than they had anticipated. It’s great for those that can devote the time and energy necessary, but not everyone can.

      Reply
  • Lindsay Pevny
    September 19, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    I think that’s a great point that the purr-sonality is already known – if they’re a good fit for other cats or can’t live with dogs, you know that from the get-go. Or if you need a lazy cuddlebug, they’ll be there for you! I definitely plan on adopting a senior cat when I have room.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 7:50 am

      Definitely! It makes it much easier to find a cat that is going to best fit your lifestyle. In doing so, it can help to eliminate issues from an adoption not working out. I think that alone is a HUGE benefit.

      Reply
  • Lyosha
    September 21, 2021 at 5:45 am

    adopting a senior animal is always special, I admire people who do it a lot. especially it applies to cats because cats are open for people so it’s harder to bound with them as they age

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 7:41 am

      It’s sad to see so many incredible pets overlooked solely because of their age. They still have SO much love to give!

      Reply
  • Seriah Sargenton
    September 21, 2021 at 7:05 am

    My parents adopted a senior cat a few years ago and I love him. He’s the most playful and youthful pet we’ve ever had, plus he’s so sweet.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 7:37 am

      Being older definitely doesn’t mean slowing down. Our sweet Pippen is much more cuddly in her older years but she still has a serious playful side. She loves playing fetch just like a dog.

      Reply
  • Erica (The Prepping Wife)
    September 21, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    My little guy is getting up there in age, at 13, and going blind. He has definitely made me slow down and really appreciate him a lot more. Because it kind of forced me to really pay attention to the changes in his behavior and how to help him. He’s still amazing and full of life. It’s just a bit different now with limited eye sight, so his needs changed a bit. I had never thought about adopting a senior cat before, but I can definitely see doing so in the future, because I am loving my time with my little guy even more as he gets older. I’ve found he tolerates cuddling a lot more now! Oh, and I can sneak pics of him much more easily. Lol. There are benefits to an aging cat. It is very different from a kitten, but there are definitely some pros to that too, as you had mentioned earlier.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 7:35 am

      Definitely! Pippen is 13 now and she is much more cuddly than she was when she was a younger kitten. I love that she’s more interested in snuggling up together because I could happily cuddle that little fluff ball for hours lol

      Reply
  • Subhashish Roy
    September 22, 2021 at 3:41 am

    Cats are such cute little things and I notice so much of love for them in the West. However in our country most cats actually roam around on the streets. Very few families own cats. Adopting a Senior cat is such a noble idea.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 7:33 am

      Unfortunately, there are still quite a few running the streets in different areas over here as well. Our town has a pretty bad stray problem and is currently looking at what they can do to address it. I’m glad to see that there are programs like the one mentioned here to encourage people to consider the cats that are often overlooked like senior cats.

      Reply
  • Sweet Purrfections
    September 26, 2021 at 11:42 pm

    I love the idea of the Silver Whiskers Foster Program. It sounds like a win-win situation for all concerned. I wish more senior living facilities allowed cats (and other pets).

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 28, 2021 at 7:27 am

      Right? I love everything about that program!

      Reply
  • Kelly
    September 30, 2021 at 5:53 am

    I would love to adopt a cat (or dog) one day when the time is right. Although kittens are adorable, I feel so sorry for older cats that are stuck in shelters. I’d 100% prefer to adopt a sheltered cat and give them the home they deserve.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 30, 2021 at 7:38 am

      There is something so rewarding about adopting a pet that has been overlooked and seeing the incredible love that they have to give.

      Reply
  • Lisa
    September 30, 2021 at 6:25 am

    Love, love, love this post, Britt! You’re so right, kittens are always adopted but seniors often overlooked. We’ve had a fair few seniors, one of whom adopted us, and a couple of whom we adopted from our local Cats Protection. They are all that you say, and we wouldn’t be without them. Regarding the comment about not seeing many articles on senior cat adoption, I wrote a post about the benefits of adopting a senior cat on my blog last year – and I’m glad to say it was one of my most popular posts. Also, love the Silver Whiskers, what a great name and idea!

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 30, 2021 at 7:37 am

      I honestly believe there is a need for information about adopting senior pets. Those people who are considering it but are unsure can use the reassurance that it’s worth giving it a try. Often, I find that people start questioning that choice when they notice everyone else is opting for the cute, little kittens.

      Reply

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