by Rita Reimers, Multi Cat Behavior Expert
In this 4-part series, Rita discusses the various ages of cats and how to choose the right one for you!
Part 3 – Adopting Adult Cats: Middle-Aged Cats
Adopting adult cats might be the PURRfect choice for you. They are already settled, litter trained, and in desperate need to give and receive love.
Not up for the high energy of a kitten or adolescent cat? Then adopting an adult cat may be the perfect solution for you and your family. With so many kittens available, older adult cats often get overlooked even though they are the perfect choice for busy families.
Some of adult cats who are available for adoption have grown into adulthood while at rescues and shelters, their sibling long ago adopted. Others are cats that have been given up for adoption by their owners for various reasons. No matter why they are there, some pretty fabulous adult cats are at rescues and shelters across America just waiting for their forever home.
Adult Cats Make Great Pets
What’s wonderful about adopting an adult cat is what you see is pretty much what you get. Their personalities are pretty well set, there’s none of that non-stop energy those baby kittens have, no biting your toes through the blanket at night, no need to kitten proof your house. Adult cats aren’t constantly getting into everything as they explore everywhere. And they already know how to use the litter box, too!
A friend of mine recently adopted a stray adolescent cat she had been feeding outside in her backyard. She already had two cats and a dog inside, so naturally she was a little concerned about adding this new cat to her household. After taking the cat (whom she named Allister) to the vet to make sure he was healthy, she brought this 8-year-old boy into her home and introduced him to her other pets. It took them about one minute of sniffing for them to welcome Allister into his new family.
Choosing Your Adult Cat
At this stage of life, we do still see those same three distinct personality types (high intensity, low intensity, and shy) in the adult cats as we do in kittens. However, the constant hyperactivity is pretty well gone, and the adults have already been through the process of learning how to socialize.
Begin by taking your potential adoptee to a quiet room at the rescue or shelter, where you can get to know one another. If he interacts well with toys and chases them around without hesitation, this is probably one of those former high intensity kittens and he is now a confident and self-assured adult adventurer. This is a cat that needs mental and physical stimulation from toys, cat trees and other places to climb, and also perhaps a playmate or two in addition interaction with you. He should also be comfortable being touched and petted, and perhaps sitting or snuggling on your lap once he gets to know you better.
An adult cat that purrs and rubs against you immediately and wants to be held or sit on your lap almost right away is more of a low intensity adult cat. These are often the lovers and snugglers. They may also enjoy some spirited play but largely just want to be close to you or curl up and snooze. Adult cats still play with toys on occasion and will enjoy climbing up a tall cat tree. But their favorite place will most likely be at your side or on your lap.
Shy cats will be the nervous ones who shake or hide when you try to interact with them. However, not every adult cat that appears to be shy is truly that way by nature. Take into account that some of these adults may have been through abuse, have been uprooted from their homes, or have just been living in a cage for so long that they may take some time to warm up to you. Upon getting them home and giving them some time to get acclimated, you may discover that you in fact have a high or low intensity cat on your hands that truly enjoys various levels of interaction, affection, and play.
My Experience Adoption Adult Cat
I myself have adopted many adult cats from both rescues and shelters, and they are all wonderful companions. My Abby was 5 years old the day someone returned her to the rescue where I was volunteering. In fact, it was my first day there. Abby is a Maine Coon, a breed known to be very laid back and going with the flow. In fact when I took her home, she had some medical issues that had been misdiagnosed, but once we got that under control she became a very docile and loving kitty that all the other cats accepts. About a month later, I brought home 3 foster kittens, and she treated those kittens like they were her own.
While Abby was a low intensity laid back kitty, when I adopted 4 year old Hope, I knew right away that I had a shy scared cat on my hand. She had been in the shelter for quite some time, coming from an abusive situation. It took quite a long time for Hope to relax in her new home and learn to trust me, and even longer before she trusted the other cats to get near her. But today, 3 years later, Hope is a sweet loving cat. She interacts with a select few of the other cats in our household, loves to be brushed and petted, and will get involved with some spirited playtime on occasion.
Whichever adult cat you decide to adopt, remember it may take some time to establish a relationship and bond with them. Develop a routine with your adult to ensure you give him plenty of attention and playtime, so that he learns to trust you and his surroundings. Once he decides to give you his love, you will have an unbreakable bond that will last a lifetime.
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