I finally felt mature enough to have my own cat about two years ago.
The hunt for my future feline started as most people do: by going through the kitten lists at my local shelter.
By default, I started looking at kittens because I felt like it was the right thing to do – plus they’re almost too adorable for words.
Sarah Zito, senior scientist at the RSPCA, tells me that this thinking is quite common.
She says another reason people look for puppies or kittens instead of older animals is because they think that fasting their pet will allow them to “shape the animal into what it is. ‘they want “.
But it’s often more complicated than that.
Animal adoption rates have skyrocketed during the coronavirus – and Dr Zito says unprecedented demand has meant fewer babies are available to go to new homes, leaving many to consider instead older animals.
So how do you find what is best for you?
Why did I decide against a kitten
While I had lived with cats as a child (and many dogs, as well as birds, rabbits, lizards, fish and hermit crabs), I had no illusions about the fact that my parents were doing most of the work when it happened. to our pets.
The idea of training a kitten not to be an incredibly intense child for the first time began to overwhelm me as I flipped through bios dotted with descriptors like “energy bunch.”
And then I thought about how I would feel leaving a kitten home alone whenever I had work (not great).
Many hours of research, chatting with friends and family later, and an older cat started to feel like the right choice – although I still had concerns.
What about insurance? Have less time together? What if the cat I chose had terrible habits?
Kittens and puppies VS cats and dogs
Dr Zito says these are all things future pet owners should consider before adopting a baby animal or examining an older animal.
Beyond the cute element, she understands why people turn to puppies and kittens in the hope that they will be able to shape them.
The pandemic has also posed new socialization challenges.
“If you’re in and out of lockdown, it’s harder to do the things you need to do for a set period of time when [pets like puppies] must be socialized, ”says Dr. Zito.
Most older pets, on the other hand, have often already learned a few good behaviors (like where to go to the bathroom) and are generally prepared to quickly learn how things work in their new home, she adds.
Older pets also tend to be calmer, have lower energy needs and an established personality, which makes them easier to match with adopters, says Allie Small, shelter supervisor for The Lost Dogs’ Home.
Dr Zito says all of these things can make it the best choice for seniors and young families.
And there’s also the fact that older animals need homes as much as babies.
Determine what is best for you
When you start looking for your perfect pet, Ms. Small recommends writing down whatever you like.
From there, she advises researching the general needs of the animal you are considering (if you know the breed, research it), with the goal of finding one that fits your current lifestyle (by putting focus on not future).
Next, she suggests talking to people you know with animals (especially similar or single-breed animals) about their experiences and seeking advice from your local animal shelter.
If you decide that an older animal would be the best fit for you, both experts say you should accept the fact that you’ll obviously be spending less time together.
But Dr Zito adds that there are a lot of older pets that live for many years after moving to a new home – it just depends on the individual pet.
“There is a lot of reluctance for people to go past six or seven [years of age]. This is usually the case when people are worried about the longevity of their relationship, ”adds Small.
But she says some people actually like the idea of having less time together.
“Some people like to travel or just don’t want to commit to 15 years,” says Dr. Zito.
Dr Zito and Ms Small say you should also consider that your potential older pet may have greater care needs than a younger one.
It is also essential to think about what you will do if you are unable to obtain an insurance policy: most insurance companies have a (variable) age limit.
Meet the fig
I ended up finding the perfect senior cat for me a few months into my search.
Fig has been in my life for a little over two years, and she is now seven.
She is gentle, loving, patient and ridiculously well behaved. Ever since I had her as an adult, I knew that (including what she liked and disliked) before I brought her home.
Because she came into my fully actualized life, I didn’t have to train her to do – or not to do – anything. In fact, she taught me more than I have.
And there were plenty of pet insurance companies happy to cover her.
It took a while for her to come out of her shell (that’s pretty normal for older cats), but the slow nature of our relationship made her stronger.
A few months ago, she started to feel secure enough to sit on me.
I’ll never forget the night she shyly climbed onto my legs for the first time, kneading her way to ultimate comfort.
Sure, I missed her kitten phase, but as Dr. Zito says:
Daily ABC in your inbox
Receive our newsletter for the best of ABC Everyday every week