May 31

Feline Friends: Why Cats Make Great Pets for Seniors


Each June, AOS’s OutreachNC newsletter focuses on pets, the beloved companions so many of us rely on for love, comfort and bonding.

Since the COVID pandemic hit, seniors have become more isolated than ever before. According to research from the National Council on Aging, seniors face loneliness and isolation more acutely than others due to the following factors:

  • Seniors are no longer in the workforce
  • Seniors are more likely to live alone
  • Seniors are often geographically separated from extended family
  • Seniors often have fewer social connections, which are key for wellness

Pets can help ease the loneliness and isolation many seniors face, particularly since the onset of the COVID pandemic.

Why are cats great pets for seniors?

Cats are great pets for seniors for several reasons.

Cats are easier to care for than other animals including dogs. Dogs often require outdoor exercise like walks or playtime, which can be difficult for owners with mobility issues or health issues. Cats are happier living indoors and, according to the Humane Society, require only 20 to 30 minutes of play per day.

Cats can offer companionship, emotional support and can actually improve physical health as well as mental health. Having a feline companion has been linked to improved mood. According to the Human Society, having pets has been linked to getting up more often and moving around, going outside and talking and smiling more often.

Cats are also easily cared for by seniors with arthritis and other physical limitations can easily care for cats. The movement (scooping, cleaning, playing) involved in caring for a cat actually contributes to better physical health for the owner, too!

What to Consider When Adopting a Cat: 

Things to consider when adopting a cat for a senior owner include:

Age – Both dogs and cats live about 15-20 years. Consider how long you may be able to live on your own before moving into a facility that does not allow pets. Rather than adopting a kitten, an older cat might be a better option.

Personality/Temperament – visit a shelter or adoption agency before adopting a cat to ensure a good fit between the owner’s and the pet’s personality. Talk to the staff and ask for a calm, easy-going and affectionate cat.

Health – Talk to shelter or agency staff about the cat’s health requirements and issues before adoption. Cat’s can have health issues such as urinary tract infections or tapeworms. Ensure the cat is healthy and up to date with all shots and vaccines before adoption.

What will You Need to Care for a Cat?

Caring for a cat is relatively simple, but there are a few things you’ll need to keep the cat healthy and happy.

Human companionship. Cat’s might seem antisocial at times, but they need companionship and affection just like their human owners.

Treatment for fleas and worms, which you’ll need to do regularly. Your vet can help you with this, and the treatments are simple and easy.

  1. A clean and comfortable place for the cat to sleep.
  2. A clean and sanitary spot for the cat to use the bathroom, like a clean litter box (which should be cleaned daily).
  3. Regular grooming. Some cats require more brushing/grooming than others, so this is a consideration before adoption.
  4. Regular, suitable meals and fresh water daily.
  5. Human companionship and attention.

With these simple, easy requirements, cats can thrive and live happy, healthy lives.

Next Steps:

If you’re considering a feline companion for a loved one or for yourself, consider your ability to meet the above needs and reach out to a shelter or adoption agency for more information.

Local humane societies area great first stop for pet adoption. Local rescue organizations are also helpful.

The Sandhills Cat Coalition is also a wonderful local cat rescue resource.

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