I I . G e t t i n g a n a d u l t c a t
After all of the mayhem of kitten days is gone, you will share your home with a proud feline adult. However, if an idea of intense daily action in your house is not the one you feel comfortable with, you can adopt an adult cat straight away. By “adult” I mean a cat that is 1 year old or older.
I must stress out that getting an adult cat means getting something second-hand. It is a harsh term to use, but it is honest – you take on an animal which has already had a home, certain habits and certain routine. The past experiences in its life might have been positive, but also negative. In absolute majority of cases adult cat adoption works out fine, but sometimes more patience and understanding might be required.
1. What to look for when adopting an adult cat
1-2 years. A cat of this age still behaves a bit like a kitten – playtime is a must and the world is still full of plenty new things to explore. No wonder, as compared to human years, you are dealing with somewhat 15-24 year old here. That is, if you adopt a 1 year old cat, you effectively adopt a teenager!
Positive thing is that most of the cats have little to no health problems in this period, if properly looked after. That is, vaccinations and worming is performed in due course, nutrition is appropriate and basic care procedures are not put off. Having said that I must also say that risk of various accidents is a bit higher in this age group, due to still discovering the world.
At 3-6 years a cat is a true adult, like a 28 to 40 year old human. While it still loves to play, hours and hours could be spent just laying around and watching something. Or napping. Or grooming. Health problems should not be the issue as well.
7-10 year old cat can be called mature, like a 44-56 year old person. Activity levels are not so high like before, but still sufficient; some health problems appear, and some of them can be serious.
11-14 years is like 60-72 years for a human, a senior age; this is an age of retirement. Food should be adjusted for senior cats, to help their digestive system. Senior cats sleep a lot and seek warmth – it is quite common for them to get under a blanket, a heater or just doze in the sun. Hearing and vision worsen. Serious health problems are very likely, as well as frequent trips to the vet.
15+ cat is called geriatric (76+ human years). Usually these are indoor cats, it is unlikely that a free roaming feline would reach this age (unlikely does not mean it does not happen; it is just more of an exception than a rule, usually due to various poisons, infectious diseases or fights with other animals, which are not part of the life of an indoor cat). Activity levels are low, most of the time is spent sleeping or napping. Jumping and running becomes a problem, for example, a cat may require some help to climb on a sofa. Kidney failure, heart problems, overactive thyroid, diabetes, renal disease or intestinal problems are likely. There are usually no cats offered for adoption in this age group.
It is not that easy to tell whether a cat has health problems and if yes, of what kind. The usual signs of a healthy cat should be present, such as no obvious difficulties moving, eyes bright, no extra discharge from eyes or nose. Teeth and gums should be checked more carefully; red, bleeding or swollen gums indicate a periodontal disease, which may lead to losing teeth. Shiny, maintained and good looking fur is a sign of good nutrition and health.
It is very beneficial to speak to a previous owner about illnesses and problems they had with the cat. Asking about vaccinations and worming is a must and one of the first things to do.
If you adopt a cat from an animal shelter, they usually know a lot about the health of a particular animal, as all of them are checked by a vet. This may give you a piece of mind.
I have tremendous respect for people who have courage to give their love to a disabled cat. This requires a lot of experience, patience and … well, just love. A cat may have lost a leg, it may be blind or deaf, or there might be other illnesses to deal with, such as feline leukemia, FIV (human HIV) and genetic defects.
Having such a cat usually means that you might see your vet more often than your friends. A disabled cat should not (usually, depending on disability) be taken on by a family with small children or toddlers, as this might result in stressful situations for everyone involved.
Once more, a huge thank you to those who adopt a disabled or ill kitty.