When people retire, they have more spare time to spend at home than was previously the case. Not surprisingly, many retirees choose to fill this void with pets. Are cats good pets for seniors?
Feline companions form strong bonds with their owners, providing much-needed love, affection, and company. Cats do not require walking, and they are clean animals. However, cats can cause trips, interrupt sleep, or have destructive tendencies (clawing carpets and furniture). You’ll also need to meet the cost of food, toys, and vet care.
We’ll look at how a cat can keep a senior mentally and physically sharp. We’ll also consider the negatives. On balance, the advantages of feline ownership for seniors vastly outweigh the disadvantages.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Advantages of Cats for Seniors
- 2 Disadvantages of Cats for Seniors
- 3 Why Do Elderly People with Cats Live Longer?
- 4 Should an Older Person Adopt an Older Cat?
Advantages of Cats for Seniors
Cats make good pets for seniors because they are easy to care for compared to other animals. Felines are independent animals, even if they live indoors.
As long as a cat receives enough attention to feel loved and acknowledged, it’ll rarely bother its owner. Some reasons why a cat is lower maintenance than other pets include:
Happy to Stay Indoors
You may need to spay or neuter a cat before it moves in. Once this is done, most cats will be content to stay indoors all day. That means no long walks that will punish your aging knees and joints, if you have arthritis.
Their Play Is Not Too Active
The idea of keeping a pet entertained can seem quite daunting. An older person may not have the ability to run or crawl around on the floor to play. Thankfully, cats do not need any such physical endeavor. Many cat games can be enjoyed from the comfort of an armchair.
Chasing laser pointers require no real physical activity from a human. Treat-dispensing puzzles that cats operate themselves will also keep a feline companion occupied for hours.
The idea of bending and crouching to pick up waste outdoors is no fun for anybody. Cats only need their litter changed once or twice a day.
Take Care of Their Own Cleanliness
Cats are very low-maintenance regarding grooming. Owners should brush their cat’s fur daily. This keeps the fur soft and clean, and strengthens the bond between human and cat. It can be an enjoyable, shared activity.
Beyond this basic requirement, cats clean themselves throughout the day. There is no need to run baths or clean up after your cat regularly.
Affordable to Maintain
Cat ownership costs aren’t that high, and insurance premiums aren’t prohibitive. Vet trips should only be required once a year, unless something exceptional happens, such as ill-health.
Toys are comparatively cheap, and you can have just as much fun with many household items. Even though high-quality food should be fed to a cat, these animals aren’t usually greedy.
Disadvantages of Cats for Seniors
Some of the hazards of living with a cat as a senior include:
Risk of Trips And Falls
As people age, the risks of taking a fall are escalated. As cats are so stealthy, they may unintentionally trip a senior over. If you have good hearing, fit the cat with a belled collar. This means they cannot unexpectedly appear underfoot on the stairs or in other high-risk locations.
It’s also important to immediately clean any spills from a water bowl to prevent slips. Don’t leave toys lying around.
Scratches And Bites
According to the British Medical Journal, there were 17.9 cat scratches and bites per 100,000 residents. Injuries from cats were most common among females and older people.
If a cat grows frustrated or bored, it’ll make its own fun. This could take the form of pushing fragile items off tables. Don’t leave anything delicate within easy reach of your cat’s paws.
You also need to be aware that cats like to mark their territory. This could mean that a cat will scratch expensive furniture and stair carpets. This can, of course, be mitigated by getting your cat a scratching post.
Seniors will be more vulnerable to sickness. It’s rare that any ill health that affects a cat will be communicable to humans, but it can happen.
This also means that allergies, or the unwelcome impact of cat elimination, will be magnified. It’s crucial to ensure cats and humans will not have an unhealthy influence on each other’s health.
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to senior citizens. Unfortunately, cats are nocturnal and seem to spring to life as soon as it gets dark outside.
If a feline does not receive enough stimulation during the day, it may disturb its owner at night. It’s important to exhaust a cat during daylight hours, so that you’re able to enjoy a good night’s rest.
Why Do Elderly People with Cats Live Longer?
Bringing a cat into the home can enhance your quality of life, and seniors with cats live longer. The reasons for this include:
Loneliness is one of the leading killers of senior citizens. If a spouse has passed on and children have moved away, a house can feel empty. A cat can quickly become an older person’s best friend. The right breed will be communicative, affectionate, loving, and playful.
Love of Routine
A cat must have a set routine. Felines like to know that they will be fed, played with, and groomed at certain times. Remembering these routines, and acting on them promptly, provides purpose.
Reduced Risk of Heart Attacks And Strokes
According to the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology, a cat’s calming presence reduces stress, anxiety, and blood pressure. This reduces the likelihood of heart-related illness by up to 30%.
Give You a Purpose in Life
Sometimes, the fact that another living creature depends on you for food and attention keeps you going. We all want to be needed.
Should an Older Person Adopt an Older Cat?
Seniors should adopt cats of equally advancing years. Both humans and cats will have similar values and energy levels.
Also, a senior cat will usually already be spayed or neutered and have detailed medical records. An older cat will also have outgrown unwelcome behaviors, and been trained to conduct itself appropriately.
There is also a discrepancy in life expectancy between cats and humans. Cats can live for 20+ years.
Best Cat Breeds for Senior Citizens
The most commonly-advised cat breeds for older people include:
- American Shorthair
You can dig a little deeper into which breed is best for you with Optimum Pet. Just answer a handful of questions, and the site lists the most suitable breeds based on your responses.