What Advice Would You Offer Someone Adopting a Senior Cat?

Making the decision to adopt a cat is a big deal in and of itself, and opting to bring home a cat who’s well past her kitten years is something pretty much any cat lover would applaud.

While rescuing a senior cat can sometimes come with some challenges — after all, there can be age-related health and care concerns to consider as well as potential baggage an adult cat could bring along — there are also plenty of perks to giving an older cat a second chance. Hey, kittens are cute, but there’s a lot to love about a cat who’s already lived through her crazy youth and may be ready for a nice, calm existence, right?

If you’re considering adding a senior cat to your family, there are a few things you should know, like the fact that she could have some mobility issues that require slight modifications (like easy-to-enter litterboxes and ramps), she might require a little extra help or encouragement when it comes to eating, drinking and grooming, and she’ll do well to see the vet at least twice a year. If you’re looking for tips on caring for a senior cat, we’ve got loads!

But we had a feeling our readers would have some advice of their own to share, so we took to Facebook to ask: What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer someone bringing home a senior cat? They came through as expected with thoughtful and practical words of wisdom.

Offer Love, Patience and Proper Care

Far and away, the most popular answer had to do with showing your senior cat love — and lots of it. “Just love them with all your heart — they will love you right back,” said Janice Goss. Jacque Nielsen Barnart agreed, saying, “Be prepared to love them to the end.” Merryanne Kagan said, “Love them. They love sunshine and laps and curling up with you.” And Glenna DeBrota smartly suggested, “Enjoy every minute you are lucky enough to have this cat.”

Along with recommendations to love your senior cat came many comments on the importance of patience. “Give them love. Let them get familiar with their new space. Then more love,” Suzanne Fanning said. ”Be gentle and kind, they may do things you don’t understand,” said Diana Bailey. “Patience. Compromise. And unconditional love. Remember they are the ones in a new place, not you,” added Mark Thompson. Readers, like Michael Clavelli, also advised that you give your senior cat space. “Give them space. And wherever the cat wants to sleep, that’s where the cat sleeps.”

Regarding the special care and allowances senior cats can require, readers had some solid tips as well. Kathy Briscoe Edwards said, “Give them lots of love and proper veterinary care.” Marsha Schauer suggested, “Feed them high quality cat food designed for seniors,” which is something we’ve also touched on. And, if you live in a home with children, “Don’t let little kids roughhouse with him,” said Sandra Garrett.

Readers also cautioned against assuming your senior cat will just be like a big kitten. Vanessa Hadley said, ”Having a senior cat is like taking care of an old lady or old man. My senior cat has  trouble jumping up onto things.” And Susan Chappelle offered this kind reminder: “Be gentle with them. They are still the same cat they always were on the inside, but they get  aches and pains just like we do.”

Enjoy Them

It’s important that you enjoy the awesome things about bringing a senior cat home, and while every cat is different, generally speaking, older cats tend to have a more established personality and calmer demeanor, so you’ll likely have a better idea of what you’re bringing home — that can be a real plus! Our readers agree, like Nora Coombs, who said, “[Older cats] know and trust humans and will give you unconditional love for giving them a second chance.” Doris Gainer echoed this, suggesting, “[Older cats] don’t usually need much training, are content with humans, readily affectionate and delightful company.” Patty Turner agreed: “Oh, the love they’ll give! Having a cat in your lap is one of the most peaceful feelings ever. Older cats are calmer and smarter. You’ll feel their gratitude!”

When it comes right down to it, though, we had a few commenters offer some very simple action steps. Kathee Kraft Burkhiser and Carla Hunter both said, “Do it!” And Debbie Wesgate took it a step farther, suggesting, “Adopt two.”

By Kristen Seymour | Vetstreet.com

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Jane R.
Jane R2 years ago

An older cat is no different than a kitten. They just aren't as active, although mine were. The only advice needed is to show them the love they deserve.

Pat P.
Pat P2 years ago

A few months ago, my 20- yr old senior cat, Troy, died--part of me went with him. Our bond was, particularly, strong and unique. It will never be duplicated.

Treasure your older/elderly cat. Provide additional safety, security and attention. Know that some cognitive issues may arise, often due to physical changes, that your cat my not understand and can't be explained to him/her. Do your research. Know what MAY/MAY NOT happen as a cat ages. They appreciate warmth (both physical and emotional) and gentleness. Be observant, sensitive, empathetic. Not only will those qualities help your sweet cat, but they will make you a wiser better--less selfish person. The bond you can develop with a senior cat is different, possibly stronger and more rewarding. Nurture it.

Karen F.
Karen P2 years ago

My advice would be when taking pud to the vet, keep a VERY close eye on pud's kidney health. There is so much conflicting advice out there! When my (late, RIP) cat got older, he started peeing everywhere, it turned out to be a kidney infection, crystals in his urine. Told one minute to feed them special dry food from the vet, the next, feed them wet food. He drank lots of water on the dry food diet but eventually developed diabetes and he had to be put to sleep, luckily we gave a cat who was about 5 when we got him 15 hopefully mostly happy years.

Tomoko Harris
Tomoko Harris2 years ago

Healthy cat can reach 20 years age, more maybe.

Toni W.
Toni W2 years ago

Thank you for sharing and caring.

Toni W.
Toni W2 years ago

As with any rescue - regardless of age - it's a matter of time, patience and lots of love.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Justyna L.
Justyna L2 years ago


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R2 years ago

Just love them and give each other a period of adjustment! Any efforts will pay off tremendously! I've had wonderful experiences with all senior cats and dogs that I've adopted! Thank you for sharing.