Despite extraordinary advances in veterinary medicine and significant improvements in the choice and quality of pet food in recent years, the belief that old cats are somehow less attractive and less deserving than young cats is still widespread. So, if grey is the new magnolia in decorating, and lace is the new leather in fashion, I’m going to be bold here and claim that 13 years old is the new 5 in cats!
Here you can see a recent photo of my gorgeous ‘Solo Bear’ who I was lucky enough to adopt from you two years ago when he was 13 years old. I know I have a strong bias towards old cats but, in all honesty, who could deny that he is looking anything other than absolutely fabulous At his first visit to the vet for his boosters a couple of months after I brought him home, the vet queried me about his age: ’13 years old? Are you sure? He could pass for a five-year-old.’
Now, I’m the first to admit that a kitten – particularly a Persian kitten – is one of the most exquisitely beautiful creations on the planet. Given the choice, though, between a kitten and an old cat, I would take the old cat every time. It’s not just that kittens run up your legs and curtains; demand lots of attention; get under your feet – and frighten the life out of you when they hide in little crevices in the kitchen cupboards or under the pile of washing you’re just about to throw in the machine – it’s more that old cats are like expensive mohair cushions: beautiful, soft, comforting – and usually found on the sofa.
Old cats know they’re old and have nothing to prove. They wear an invisible ‘been there, done it, got the t-shirt’ so have much less of a desire to squabble with other cats over food, territory or the position of top cat in the home. They sleep a lot, chat a little and play occasionally. They no longer feel the need to scale six-foot walls to go walkabout or dart out under your feet when the postman rings the doorbell. They appreciate companionship but they also give it – in bucketsful – and not just to older owners; they’re generally more tolerant than kittens and young cats of overhandling by children. It’s worth mentioning, too, that if old cats are being adopted from a reputable rescue such as yours, they will have been vet checked and they almost always come with some information about their background and character. In a nutshell, they are a known quantity.
I’m not entirely sure how the percentages work out for my love of old cats between altruism and the pleasure I gain from their companionship.
However, I do know that if altruism does play a part, it is repaid many times over by the sheer joy of sharing a home with them. Anyone who always overlooks old cats and chooses the youngest and cutest is missing out on something rather good. Actually, no: they’re missing out on something wonderful.
I hope very much that anyone reading this who is ready to adopt but who has not previously considered an old cat will reconsider and ask you to notify them when the next one comes in to the rescue.
Solo and I send you and the trustees a big thank you. We also thank Twiggy and Stephen whose kind agreement to support your tireless rescue and rehoming work really does make a difference.
Love Susan (and Solo) xx