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Adopting Older Cats: Cat Adoption Tips for Adult Cats

Several years ago I adopted Prince Albert, an older cat, and I am very thankful that I was able to give him a loving home.

My adopted Prince Albert—why do you stick out your tongue, my sweet prince?

My adopted Prince Albert—why do you stick out your tongue, my sweet prince?

Adopting an Older Cat Can Be Rewarding

While the majority of people wanting to adopt a cat will choose a kitten, there are unexpected joys to adopting an older—or even elderly—cat. I do love kittens . . . their curiosity, their playfulness, and their darn cuteness!

A couple of years ago, though, I was put in the position to take in an old cat: a skinny, gray, half-blind, outdoor cat whose owner had died.

Having fed Prince Albert for several months next door while his human mama was ill in the hospital, I had developed a bond with him. Still, I had no plans for him to end up with me, and I had no idea what his addition to my little furry family would bring to my life.

My dog, Gizmo, with Prince Albert. "Okay, Mom, he can stay . . ."

My dog, Gizmo, with Prince Albert. "Okay, Mom, he can stay . . ."

Challenges of Adopting an Older Cat

Bringing the old guy into my home had its challenges. When the Prince lived next door, my dog would bark and chase him across the yard back to his own yard if he ventured through the picket fence over into our territory. I worried about my dog’s acceptance of the old cat. Plus, I already had five cats and wasn't looking to adopt more. And would they get along? I had learned how to acclimate cats to each other over time, but I had never taken in a cat this old, whose estimated age was 17.

I had heard from a family member that the old guy had incontinence problems and would pee in the house. That was something I would have to watch, too. Where would he sleep at night? Where would I leave him during the day with the other cats? These were questions I would have to answer once I committed to taking him in.

Tips for Taking in an Older Cat

If you are considering adopting an older cat, these tips will guide you through the process and prepare you for when your new friend comes home.

1. Consider the Older Cat’s Health Issues

When I agreed to take Prince Albert home, I asked a family member of his former owner what veterinarian he had been taken to. Soon, I took him there for a complete check-up and to learn his past history. I learned that his glazed-over apparently blind eye was not a cataract but was most likely from an injury.

I also learned that his blood work was good, his organs were working well, and that he could live a much longer life. Oh, great, I thought, especially when I got the vet bill for $160. I’m stuck with this old, incontinent cat till death do us part. And I was just trying to do a favor.

A new, pampered life for Prince Albert

A new, pampered life for Prince Albert

2. Give the Older Cat Extra Time to Get Used to the Other Cats

This goes both ways. The cats in the home also need time to get used to the idea of a new cat in the home. As a cat lover, I have been adopting cats for many years. Each time the newcomer comes in, I keep him or her in the bathroom with food, water, and litter for about a week or two, bringing the newbie out for a short time in the evenings for the other cats to see. During the day when I work, the cats get used to knowing that there is a newcomer on the other side of the door, as they sniff and swat their paws under the door.

With the older cat, I gave it even more time, as it seemed there was more resistance from the other cats. And old Prince Albert isn’t as resilient as a kitten that keeps coming back for more. Protect your older cat from unwanted advances until he or she is ready, both day and night.

3. Explore the Older Cat's Litter Box Needs

Since I was told that Prince Albert had been known to pee in the house, I was careful to let him in from the screened porch too much. Out there, he could pee in the litter box, out in the dog/cat covered run, or even on the concrete. So, once he moved over to my house, during the warm months, he spent a lot of his time out there, with infrequent or short indoor visits.

With the onset of cold weather, I brought in the old guy to stay in the bathroom overnight. As I had caught him urinating on throw rugs inside (now I’ve pulled all the rugs up until he passes away!), I started to experiment with different types of litter areas for him. He immediately took to pee pads for dogs. As these are expensive, I also tried an “as seen on TV” potty patch for dogs, and he took to that, too! Now, over time, he has even found the traditional litter box, so he has several options. I guess you can teach an old cat new tricks!

4. Consider the Older Cat's Food Needs

Prince Albert can eat the dry food with the other cats, but when I treat them with canned cat food, I sneak him some extra. Many older cats may find chewing hard food more difficult, so keep that in mind. Also, with the sweet old man, I make sure that whether he’s out in the sunshine on the screened-in patio or secluded in the bathroom, that he has plenty of food and water at all times. I just don’t want the old guy to go hungry or want for anything. I think I’m falling for him.

Prince Albert and me—adopting an older cat can bring new love you never imagined!

Prince Albert and me—adopting an older cat can bring new love you never imagined!

Rewards of Adopting an Older Cat

I joke about taking on a cat hospice patient, as I made him as comfortable as possible. I had doubts about taking in this guy, as I thought it would be more of a burden than a pleasure. I didn’t think he would hang on so long—over two years so far since he came to be a part of my household! Now, he comes in from the patio more often, laying by me on the couch or a nearby chair.

One of the older cats has taken to him and will get fairly close to him. After all this time, the other cats are finally learning to accept him. They don’t cuddle up to him, but the hisses have lessened as they are realizing that he is here to stay. Prince Albert has made the place his own; he comes into the kitchen with the dog, watching me as I cook, looking for crumbs. Surprisingly, once Prince Albert came home with me, my dog stopped pestering him. My little smart canine buddy realized, “Oh, he’s one of us now!” I've even caught them in the doghouse together when the weather is chilly!

Prince Albert has thrived in his new “hospice setting.” He is totally an inside cat now and doesn’t seem to miss the harshness of the outdoors. This pampered old cat now has a softer, thicker gray coat, and seems to be thriving, as he now comes to the sliding glass door to be let in, then scampers into the house. He looks up at me with his sweet blind eye, and my heart melts.

This gentle, grateful soul is about 19 years old now. I hope he’ll be with me well into his 20s. Adopting an older cat is so rewarding. Giving new life to an elderly cat who needs you and begins to thrive not only helps that little creature, but it gives you new life, too, adding a sweetness you never dreamed possible.

Consider adopting an older cat! The rewards for both of you are well worth it.

Prince Albert's Death

As an update, since this post, my sweet soul Prince Albert passed on on June 25th, 2012. I am still so sad. I miss his sweet countenance, his trust, how he finally got comfortable and would claim his spot on the couch next to me. Prince Albert was old, which brought its challenges. He would only pee on certain things (yeah, a problem, sometimes), and the other cats had a hard time warming up to him. Still, I loved him. He was part of my home, and I feel grateful and fortunate that I had the honor of taking care of him in his last years.

The rewards of adopting an older or special needs cat are immeasurable.

More on Adoption


Shirley Leach on August 27, 2018:

I adopted a six year old cat from a family of ten cats because they no longer could keep any of them. I chose one of the quiter ones. He uses his box and eats good. I found that he has used the carpet in the living room to poop on. He is also using his box. How can I get him to stop using my carpet in the living room. I have had him only one week. He stays under a bed during the day and you can hear him run up the hall at night.

Judy on September 14, 2017:

I loved the story of Prince. My husband and I are adopting a 14 and 17 year old cat whose owner died. This gave me hope and made me smile.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on November 02, 2015:

I totally agree, Snowsprite!

Fay from Cornwall, UK on October 28, 2015:

I too was owned by an older cat. It is a rewarding and challenging time, but well worth it.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on April 01, 2015:

Lynn--owned by two cats! ha! I can relate! Thanks for reading.

Lynn Savitzky from New Jersey on March 24, 2015:

Great article. As someone who's been owned by two adult cats in her lifetime, I found this really informative.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 24, 2013:

nArchuleta--Thanks for the comments. I love it that you got Lindemann at the shelter. There are so many cats out there to save! :-)

Nadia Archuleta from Denver, Colorado on March 22, 2013:

What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. I got my sweet Lindemann at a shelter. He wasn't an older cat -- 3 years at the time. I've adopted both kittens and adult cats, and I prefer adults.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on January 13, 2013:

Rebecca--Glad you like the hub--and the pictures, too! Thanks!

Rebecca Furtado from Anderson, Indiana on January 12, 2013:

Really nice informative hub. Love the pictures.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on December 05, 2012:

Debby, I do love cats. I think I have a special place in my heart for them partly because they are so often cast off. They deserve to have a safe, loving home. I could definitely do Cat Hospice. It is so rewarding, even though my Prince Albert died this past summer--June 25th. I miss him greatly, but he was old and is in a better place now, I guess. He did look like a Russian Blue; I bet he was beautiful when he was younger. Thanks for your comments, Debby.

Debby Bruck on December 05, 2012:

Dear Victoria - You must have a special place in your heart for cats; and have shown others the potential for older cats to find a loving home environment. "Cat Hospice" is a new idea and very much needed! Your Prince Albert looks like a Russian Blue to me. Blessings, Debby

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 29, 2012:

SylvianeNuccio--Nice to meet you. Thanks for your comments. I'm sorry about your Tony. It's so hard to lose a pet. Some time after I wrote this hub, my old Prince Albert also died--this year on June 5th. I wrote a poem about that. I miss the old guy. I'll keep a look out for your tribute to Tony. :-)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on June 10, 2012:

That's wonderful, DzyMsLizzy! I have "only" 5 cats now since Prince Albert passed. If I get the chance, I will adopt another old cat who needs a place to live out his last year. Maybe that's my calling! (one of my callings, anyway!) I bet your household of felines is lots of fun. I would have a hard time letting go of the ones I fostered! You're welcome about the links. Your article is a perfect complement to mine. Thanks for reading, the votes, links, etc! Blessings to you and your wonderful cats and kittens!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on June 09, 2012:

What a wonderful story and tribute! They can, and do adapt. We have, at this point, 6 cats, and are fostering 3 kittens. Wow!

It gets interesting, as we don't have the space or luxury of an "extra" room or the newcomers generally just get tossed into the mix, and we let them all sort it out, squirt bottles at the ready... ;-)

Thanks very much, too, for the links to my article. I'll be linking back to yours!

Voted up, interesting and awesome.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on April 06, 2012:

Hi, homestead! I think people who rescue animals are great; that means YOU! 5 of them! Do the cats at least tolerate each other? That's how some of mine are. The ones that used to hiss at each other at least can walk past each other now without too much noise. LOL! I'm glad you appreciated the hub.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on April 06, 2012:

Audra, I appreciate your comments. Gizmo and the old Prince Albert ARE really special. Thanks for recognizing that! thanks for the vote and share, as well!

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on April 06, 2012:

I am an animal rescue person as well. All three cats and both dogs are rescues. Two of the cats were adults when I got them. After 10 years 2 of the cats still do not get along, but we love them all.

This was a beautiful story.

iamaudraleigh on April 06, 2012:

Victoria, this article is great! I think Gizmo and Prince Albert are so cute! Thank you for including them in your article to tell your story! Voted up and shared!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 19, 2012:

Sharyn--My adopting Prince Albert has been a great experience. I will definitely plan to rescue another elderly cat if I get the opportunity. Sounds like you had a wonderful experience with your cat and many more years to pamper her in her old age!

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on March 18, 2012:

Aw, I loved this Vicky! I wish more people would be open to adopting older animals. All the cats that I have had have been rescues and one was much older, maybe 15 at the time. She quickly adapted to being an indoor cat and was so extremely lovable. She lived for another six years or so with me. She had a great life.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 04, 2012:

Gemini--I usually adopt younger cats, but, after my experience with Prince Albert, I will definitely look at taking in an older cat again. One that really needs a home. It's a good thing to do.

Gemini Fox on March 03, 2012:

Aaaaaaawww! So glad to hear that others believe in adopting older cats. So many people seem to want only the youngsters but kittens can be such a handful . . . sweet but a handful. I have one cat (who likes being solo) but if I ever did try to adopt another, it would be an older cat.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 02, 2012:

Well, thanks, Troyangeluk! Cats are great....

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 02, 2012:

Well, that's cool, nybride. I need to visit Red Gage again soon. Glad you found this article. Thanks.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 02, 2012:

Ah, mar, how sweet. Prince Albert is an angel, too, then. Thanks for the great comments and votes.

Troyangeluk from UK on March 02, 2012:

I love cats haha :) great hub keep up work like this!!!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

JS--Sounds like your cat has his own mind, which is one of the things that I love about cats. And, yes, Albert is such a sweet soul. :-)

nybride710 on March 01, 2012:

This gives a lot of good, detailed information. I followed your link from Red Gage, then see we are cross-linked on each other's stories about older cat adoption.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Kathleen--What a great name Lady is! And what a great lady you are for saving her. Amazing that the shelter even kept her for a year. Was it a no-kill shelter, thank God!? Bless you for taking her in. I'm sure you miss her terribly, but you gave her some good years. Thanks for the great comments!

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on March 01, 2012:


What a precious story you have relayed in your Prince Albert. His sweet little tongue made me grin from ear to ear! God bless you for making his senior years such special are an angel on Earth!

Voted UP & across the board. Hugs, mar.

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on March 01, 2012:

I think he is older but I never knew his age. He came to us fixed and fat so I think he had a decent life! He just hates being picked up and is not a lap cat! The cat is "Fattass" from my cat Hub. I should ask the vet how old he is. I would say 5-7 because although he is lazy, he likes to play! He is loaded with freckles! It is funny when he opens his mouth! Albert sounds really sweet!


Kathleen Kerswig on March 01, 2012:

This is a great hub. I adopted a 9 year old cat years ago and it was the best thing I had ever done. She had been at the shelter for over a year because of her age. Lady was the best cat I ever had. I gave her extra time to adjust to her new surroundings and the other cat in the house. She lived for close to 9 more years. I still miss her. Thank you for sharing this useful information. Definitely Voted Up!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

JS, I think the sticking out the tongue is hilarious! Is it because they have lost control over their tongue muscles? ha. Is the cat with black freckles in his mouth and gums an older cat? I've noticed that happening with one of my 12-year olds. My vet said that is normal with age. Age spots, I guess. haha. So I wouldn't worry about it. I think you're right about older cats. They grow on you. My Albert is just so gentle and sweet, and he seems so appreciative of being taken in and living the good life. Lots of love to your cats! Thanks for reading, commenting, voting, and SHARING! :-)

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on March 01, 2012:

Victoria, my cat sticks out his tongue too! He also has black freckles in his mouth on his gums so it is quite strange! My last 4 cats were adopted and I think it is the right thing to do. There are just too many animals in need out there. I find that older cats (that are fixed!) grow on you quickly. This is a very useful Hub and I am voting up and SHARING!


Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

That's great, CassyLu! good for you guys! Since Prince Albert came into my life, I would definitely again adopt an older cat down the road. They need us! Good luck!

CassyLu1981 from Wilmington, NC on March 01, 2012:

Wonderful Hub! We are adopting two cats on Saturday. Both are females, sisters actually. They are older cats and since we've done this before I think we can handle it. Thanks for sharing the tips, I'm sure I'll put it to use!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

onegreenparachute--Thanks! Having a good soul--that's the best compliment I could ever hear! Yes, Prince Albert has messed some stuff up in my house, but he is worth more than stuff. Thanks, Carol, for the kind comments.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Thanks, rebeccamealey. I think the good Prince and I are lucky to have found each other. :-)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Deborah, I love cats, too! Glad you loved the hub and my Prince Albert. He has brought a lot of sweetness to my life. I hope I have him and you have your Muffin for many, many more years. thanks so much!!!

Carol from Greenwood, B.C., Canada on March 01, 2012:

Your story touched my heart. I'm so glad there are kind people out there who will go to any lengths - even take up their carpets - to accommodate elderly animals! You have a good soul! Good information and voted up & useful!


Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Entourage--glad you're finding a good home personally for your cat. I couldn't give up an animal to a shelter, and it makes me angry when people dump them and leave them to fend for themselves. Good luck with your search. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on March 01, 2012:

Prince Albert is one lucky cat! It sounds like you have done a good job adopting this older cat. Bless you!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Flora, they really are awesome! I'm surprised at how well Prince Albert and the others have adapted. They just pretty much live and let live!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Thanks, Marcy! I appreciate your appreciative comments!

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on March 01, 2012:

Oh I love Prince Albert..I love cats.. I love your hub.. older cats are so wonderful I have had my Muffin for 14 years I cannot imagine life without her.

voted way up


Stuart from Santa Barbara, CA on March 01, 2012:

I am glad you adopted an older cat, it is very sad - but now I am trying to find a new home for my cat that I've had for 1.5 years.... I have finally realized that my allergies are completely cat related and I wasn't sure what was making my eyes so red every day until now.... One thing is for sure though, I am going to find her a home personally - I'm not going to take her to the animal shelter or let her roam as an outdoor cat.

She needs a good home

FloraBreenRobison on March 01, 2012:

My cat would not do well with all those other animals. Older cats are awesome!

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on March 01, 2012:

What a neat hub! I love kitties - and I love the idea of adopting an older kitty who might need some loving care. Thanks for these wonderful pointers to help us provide the right environment for a pet. Voted up, useful and awesome.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Many times, Susan, it's the older ones that get passed over. Makes me feel bad for them. Thanks for reading! Prince Albert is a beautiful boy. Quite the Prince!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on March 01, 2012:

Most people that I know adopt younger cats. It's nice to see that you adopted an older one. All cats deserve a nice loving home. Beautiful cat!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on March 01, 2012:

Hi, Anamika! There's a lot to consider when taking in a pet, especially an older ones that may have special needs. Thanks for the votes!

Anamika S Jain from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India on March 01, 2012:

Cat adoption? Interesting. I never thought there is this much to the process. Good hub, Voted up and useful!