One of my local pet stores occasionally hosts adoption events for a community animal rescue group — and I enjoy petting and talking to the adult cats looking for new homes. I joke with my kids that if I had the space and the resources, I would end up adopting one of these sweet, older cats every time I attended such an event. (I’m not sure how my resident adult cats, Phillip and Jack, would feel about that.)
Are you considering adopting a cat? If so, take a closer look at the adult cats, those between 3 and 7 years of age. These sweet cats can make perfect pets.
Don’t just take my word for it. John Van Zante, the public relations director for the Rancho Coastal Humane Society in Encinitas, California, says that there are advantages to adopting adult cats — or even senior cats (over 10 years old) — instead of kittens (up to 6 months old) or adolescents (7 months to 2 years old).
“Kittens and adolescents might show some personality characteristics, but they are furry little ‘works in progress,’” he explains. “Adult cats, generally, have developed their personalities.”
Other benefits of adopting an older cat, according to the no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization North Shore Animal League, include:
- Less Maintenance: You do not need to “raise” an adult cat through kittenhood.
- More Independence: An adult cat can spend more time on his own.
- Already Trained: The majority of adult cats already know how to use the litter box, and while your new adult may need a short period to adjust to his new surroundings, chances are he’ll know the basics.
- Known Physical Characteristics: You’ll know exactly how big your cat will be and how long his fur will be, because he’s already full-grown.
- Up-To-Date Veterinary Care: Most adoptable adult cats have already gone through the full series of vaccinations, and most are already spayed or neutered.
- Good Manners: Many adult cats come from previous homes and already know how to fit into a household. Such a cat usually wants to please the people he lives with.
Getting Other Opinions About A Cat
Another benefit of adopting an adult cat is hearing another animal lover’s impressions about the cat’s temperament before you bring your new pet home.
“In most cases, animal shelters and rescue groups are able to tell potential adopters about the personality, activity level, likes and dislikes of more mature cats,” Van Zante says.
Some of the things shelter workers and volunteers can tell you about your potential adult pet include:
- If he gets along with other cats (and to what degree — friendship or simple acceptance?).
- If he gets along with dogs and other pets — and if he tolerates them or actively enjoys their company.
- How the cat interacts with children of all ages. In other words, can your 6-year-old dress him up in doll clothes? Or will he hide under the bed when he sees your toddler coming?
- What type of physical interaction the cat enjoys — does he like to curl up in laps? Or is he content to sit next to someone on the couch?
- If the cat is outgoing with family members and visitors or takes a bit of time to warm up to people.
- If he enjoys long grooming sessions or prefers shorter, less-intense grooming.
- If he is a “talker” or the silent type.
Other questions Van Zante suggests asking a shelter volunteer include:
- Does the adult cat need a companion (human, feline or otherwise)? Or is he content to be on his own? This can be especially important if you work outside the home.
- Does he have any medical issues? If so, are they easily manageable?
- Does he have a microchip? If so, is there an extra fee included with the adoption charge?
- Can you contact the shelter with medical or behavioral questions after you get home?
The goal is to find an adult cat who will fit well with the lifestyle you already have, Van Zante says.
“We don’t want to convince anybody to take a pet that they will return.”
Making A Perfect Match
You can help a shelter employee match you with the perfect adult companion by sharing information about yourself, your family, your work schedule and your lifestyle.
“Talk about pets you’ve had in the past and your level of experience as a pet care provider,” Van Zante suggests.
Another key step to finding your ideal match, Van Zante says, is ensuring everyone in the household wants the same type — and age — of pet.
“We suggest a family meeting before visiting the shelter,” he says. “Decide your preferences before you even leave home — but be prepared to be flexible.”
Ultimately, being open to the idea of adopting an adult cat may lead you to the cat of your dreams. Shelter staff and volunteers want to help you find the perfect pet, too.
“The goal of the counselors is to send the pets home with families that will care for them until their last breath,” Van Zante says.