There is no hard and fast rule about when a cat is considered “old”. Definite age-related changes occur in the cat’s body from about 7 years. Most vets and behaviorists consider cats to be geriatric at the age of 10-12 when the cumulative effect of such changes start to affect the cat’s body and lifestyle.
Cats are longer-lived than most other domestic pets and this longevity means that there is no shortage of adult and older cats needing homes. They also age gracefully and, with a little understanding and care, there is plenty of mileage left in most 10 year old cats.
The Benefits of Older Cats
Older cats are generally quieter and more sensible than kittens or young cats and generally need less supervision. They are already used to household life and know the ground rules of living with people. Instead of becoming bored and needing to let off steam in your absence they are more likely to doze, leaving your furnishings intact. An older cat will already be housetrained and adult cats adopted from shelters will probably already be neutered and possibly already vaccinated.
Although there is less variation in size between cats than in dogs, an older cat is fully grown so you can see what you are taking on – large, medium or small, longhaired, semi-longhaired or shorthaired, placid or active. The cat’s previous owner may have provided details of its character, allowing you to select a cat that suits your own needs and lifestyle.
As cats grow older they are less likely to hunt successfully, a boon if your cat is allowed outdoors but you don’t appreciate regular “presents”. They are more home-oriented and settled, making them excellent companions. If you enjoy pampering your cats, an older cat will be much more appreciative of this attention than a kitten.
Older cats have less energy and are more placid than kittens and are content to spend much of their time watching the world go by. As they slow down, their play becomes less energetic and less alarmingly acrobatic.
Cats are at their most companionable in these later years. They enjoy attention and companionship, but will not pester you continually for games. Most owners find caring for such cats a very rewarding experience and in turn, an older cat will enjoy the love and security that a caring cat owner can provide.