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April 9, 2020

Senior Cats & Kittens 180° of Separation

I frequently hear cat people say they are adopting a kitten to keep their older adult cat company. In some cases these older cats have been the king and queen of their households, enjoying the luxury of having their person all to themselves. And there are also situations that involve older, adult cats who have suffered the loss of a bonded or maybe not so bonded resident other.

Some cats enjoy the company of another cat—others prefer a solitary cat-free life. Before bringing home a new kitten for your cat, consider the needs of both your resident cat and the new kitten. Older cats who have lived successfully with other cats may appreciate a new friend—a cat friend who is similar in age. Kittens usually love to roll and frolic excessively with others—preferably another kitten with the same active, crazy life style.

180° of Separation
The activity levels for older adult cats and kittens are on the opposite sides of the spectrum. Older adult cats invented power napping whereas kittens are poster children for Energizer commercials. Senior cats prefer to nap and lounge by the window, entertained by the neighborhood viewed from the comfort of a safe perch. Kittens, by definition, don’t nap the day away—they prefer actively exploring their world instead of observing it. And there is nothing more fun for a kitten then to engage every resident animal and human in persistent, rollicking play. Understandably, senior cats are not on the same page. The constant demands from kittens annoy and can seriously stress them.

It is also unfair for the kitten. Kittens need every opportunity to rough house, play and chase another willing companion—preferably another kitten. It’s an important part of the physical and social development of kittens. Kittens learn vital skills from play—including how to hunt and survive. And play teaches kittens important social boundaries.

Cat Company
Choose wisely when searching for a cat to keep your senior company. If your cat had a friendly relationship with another cat in the past, then seek out a new cat-friend who is similar in age and activity level to your resident cat. The new cat should also have a history of successfully getting along with cats the same age and temperament as your senior kitty.

Avoid adopting a kitten as a friend for your senior cat. Most likely both the kitten and the elderly cat will be unhappy with the pairing. Instead of becoming best buddies, the kitten will be frustrated with not having a friend who can keep up with him. And the older adult cat will become annoyed and stressed by the kitten’s natural need for constant play and attention.

Both cat & kitten have valid points.

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