By John Gilpatrick
Kittens often get all the glory, but senior cats make wonderful pets, too. Just ask Marci Koski, a certified feline behavior and training consultant and owner of Feline Behavior Solutions in Washington State. She’s had her cat, Jesse, since he was 3. He’s now 18, but Koski wouldn’t change that for anything. “He sleeps more than he used to, but I know his personality, habits, and routine, and he knows mine,” she says.
Even if you haven’t had the pleasure of spending a decade or more with a cat and developing that relationship, an older cat might be the right choice for you, says Dr. Bruce Kornreich, associate director for education and outreach for the Feline Health Center at Cornell University. This is especially true if you’re no spring chicken yourself. “We’ve seen that adopting cats can be psychologically beneficial to older people, and in many cases, an older cat is the perfect match,” he says. “They’re generally calmer and make for great companions.”
If you decide to wade into these waters, it’s best to be prepared. A senior cat’s needs are often different from those of their younger counterparts. Here are five myths about senior cats, debunked by experts.
By Victoria Schade
Socialization isn’t just for puppies. Perhaps you’ve opened your heart and home to a senior rescue and you want him to enjoy all that life has to offer. Or maybe you’ve decided that your beloved but sedentary older pooch needs to get out and have some adventures. Tackling socialization with dogs who are well past the formative stage of development requires a gentle touch and patience, since older dogs have a well-established pattern of likes and dislikes. But much like puppy socialization, it’s important to remember that your senior sets the pace. That means that if he opts to hang back from unfamiliar people, or doesn’t want to immediately interact with other dogs, you shouldn’t push him. Forcing your dog into a scenario where he feels uncomfortable or overwhelmed can backfire and derail your socialization goals.
Keep in mind that attempting to socialize a dog with longstanding reactivity to other dogs or people requires a more choreographed approach and the help of a positive trainer and/or a veterinarian who specializes in behavioral medicine. The following tips are geared toward older dogs who are appropriate with others, but might need some extra support as they brush up on their socialization skills.
By Helen Anne Travis
Even the most well-behaved cats can’t help but wreak havoc on our furniture. It’s not their fault they think our couches are giant scratching posts. Fortunately, there are ways to cat-proof your furniture and prevent further destruction. All it takes are a few supplies and some positive reinforcement training.
Your account has been reactivated.