Life is sweet at home

Cats Make Great Pets for Seniors

Marla with her mom, dear friend and kitten.

Marla with her mom, dear friend and kitten.

While I have owned and loved many cats and dogs, I can see how for older adults cats are especially easy to care for in an apartment and make great companions. In her later years, for example, my mom enjoyed the company of her kitty very much.

Many of my older friends swear by cats as the perfect housemates. One sends me valentines every year with photos of her two “rescue” cats, a mature mom and daughter duo, in some sort of adorable, cuddling pose. Not only are Lucy and Gabby well-mannered and affectionate with my friend, they love one another and are totally entertaining, wrestling, grooming and napping together.

Why More Cats Than Dogs in the U.S.

kitties make great companions.

Kitties make great companions.

According to a pet products survey, there are about 93.6 million cats living in US households, while there are only about 77.5 million dogs. Part of the reason cats have overtaken dogs in the house pet popularity contest is that cats adapt more easily to indoor life and can cope better with their humans’ busy lifestyles.

Why are Cats Good Companions for Seniors?

A Human Society article about the benefits of feline pets for seniors says older adults often enjoy a boost in mood and health from caring for a pet. Pets help them overcome loneliness, provide affection and a good reason to get up, get dressed and feed their pet.

As a result, older adults get more exercise and mental stimulation, which benefits their overall health. Even seniors who have arthritis or other physical limitations can easily care for cats.

Kitties are easy to care for and very affectionate.

Kitties are easy to care for and very affectionate.

Although dogs can also make great pets for some seniors and provide the same benefits as cat ownership, many of us simply can’t keep up with a dog’s needs, which makes adopting a cat a much better choice:

• Unlike dogs, cats are happy staying indoors all the time.
• Most adult cats require only 20 to 30 minutes of playtime per day, and interactive play does not require the owner to be mobile. A kitty fishing pole or laser toy lets senior cat owners engage their cat in play while sitting in their favorite chair.
• Cats are also very content to spend most of their time sleeping on their owner’s lap or bed.

How to Choose a Feline Friend

When helping an older adult pick the right kitty, it’s important to think about several considerations. For starters it’s important to think about longevity issues such as: What is the pet’s lifespan? Who will care for it after your death? Will it be happy in a small apartment?

Also, what will be best for an older individual, kitten or adult? The Humane Society suggests an adult cat is often a good choice. They have fewer exercise and training demands than wild, but cute kittens. When picking out the pet, look for a kitty with sweet temperament, one that is calm, easygoing, healthy and a great lap cat.

10 Reasons Senior Cats Rule

1. When senior cats are adopted, they seem to understand that they’ve been rescued, and are all the more thankful for it.
2. A senior cat’s personality has already developed, so you’ll know if he or she is a good fit for your family.
3. You can teach an old cat new tricks (I do every day with my own cats!): Senior cats have the attention span and impulse control that makes them easier to train than their youthful counterparts.
4. A senior cat may very well already know basic household etiquette (like not attacking your feet at night) anyway!
5. In particular, senior cats are often already litter trained and are less likely to “forget” where the box is.
6. A senior cat won’t grow any larger, so you’ll know exactly how much cat you’re getting.
7. Senior cats are often content to just relax in your company, unlike younger cats, who may get into mischief because they’re bored.
8. Speaking of relaxing, senior cats make great napping buddies.
9. Senior cats often know that scratching posts (not furniture) are for scratching and toys (not hands or feet) are for biting.
10. Senior cats are some of the hardest to find homes for – so when you adopt a senior cat, you’re truly saving a life.

Cats with Apartment Friendly Personalities

While most any sweet, old “alley” cat from the local animal shelter will do wonders for your favorite elder, according to a pets product survey, some breeds are better living in small spaces than others.

Apartment Friendly Cats:

1) The British Shorthair is quiet and friendly with its owner. This hardy breed is also a good fit for first-time cat owners. If you want a lap cat, this breed is for you.
2) Persians are easygoing and affectionate, but need lots of attention and daily grooming.
3) The Russian Blue is an affectionate but independent cat. Shy with strangers but very loyal to their favorite person, they need little grooming and are moderately active.
4) The Javanese is playful, affectionate, and vocal. This breed is best suited for first-time cat owners and would do best in the household of a retired senior.
5) The Ragdoll is known for its laid-back and gentle temperament. If you’re looking for a lap cat that enjoys playtime but isn’t especially demanding, a Ragdoll could be ideal.

Do you have a cat? How does it bring you joy?