By: Robin Desmet – April, 2017
I can’t walk by Wheezy’s cage without opening the door and showing him some love. He looks up as if to say “you again” and dutifully walks over when you approach his cage. When you start patting him he responds instantly with purrs and head butts. He is a gentle, affectionate cat that clearly loves attention. Wheezy currently resides at Nevins Farm in Methuen and he is one of a handful of senior cats that are available for adoption.
Along with Wheezy, cats like Milo, Oreo and Sierra (age 15, 10, 11 and 10 respectively) will remain at Nevins Farm until the day that they capture someone’s heart and get to go home. It is not unusual these days to see older cats like these at the shelter. Last year alone, 448 senior cats found homes through the MSPCA. Contrary to popular belief, older cats like Wheezy are not euthanized when they are brought to the shelter. Due to low cost spay/neuter programs for owned and free roaming cats, there are actually fewer cats flowing into the MSPCA these days. Since 2011, the number of cats surrendered to the shelter has decreased by over 50%. Because of these declining numbers, there is more room for adult cats and older cats, and with an adoption rate of over 90%, these older cats have a better chance of finding new homes than in the past.
When I see a cat in the adoption center that is 10 or 11 years old labeled as “Senior” I have to chuckle. My beautiful Charlie cat that I adopted in my twenties lived to be 23 years old. People would always ask me how old he was because he looked old to them. He never looked old to me. Luckily for the senior cats up for adoption, I am not the only one who sees the beauty in these more mature cats. There are people who will come to the shelter specifically looking for an older cat, or the cat that has been at the shelter the longest. They know the lure of the kitten, but they also know the advantages to adopting an older cat.
Kittens need entertainment, excitement, and stimulation. They get into everything. They need to be supervised and trained. Older cats tend to be less interested in mayhem. They are done shredding the toilet paper and batting at your eyelashes when you’re sleeping. They know what the scratching post is for. They like naps.
With older cats, what you see is what you get. You know how big the cat is going to get and how much grooming it is going to need. The personality of an older cat is already developed. You know if the cat is a lap cat or an aloof cat. You know if the cat gets along with dogs or kids, or if it doesn’t.
I see the beauty in cats of all ages. I do think that kittens work great in some households and older cats work better in others. If you are thinking about adoption, consider all of your options. We all love kittens, but does an older cat make more sense for your household? Take a look at the adult cats and the senior cats–one of them, like Wheezy, might just steal your heart.
You can email Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org