Silver sweetness: adopt a senior pet from the shelter
August 7, 2019 6:06 AM   Subscribe

The benefits of adopting a senior pet: This series of print ads from The Animal Protective Association of St. Louis featuring shelter animals has an adorable and silly theme: “Grown-Ass Adult." Along with the hashtags #grownassadult and #adoptadult, this campaign showcases all the reasons why adult animals make great companions. I used to volunteer at the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Ann Arbor and fondly remember the day that someone adopted three bonded elderly kitties that needed a new home together. Here's to our companion animals and all the ways they make our lives better.

(And because all animal-related posts are better with pictures: here are my kitties, four-year-old Gravyboat and five-year-old Lady Sage. They are alumni of the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, DC, and I hope to be their staff through their old age.)
posted by wicked_sassy (41 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
If senior here means “having an authoritative position or a high rank,” I am pleased to report that all cats view themselves as senior.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:25 AM on August 7, 2019 [14 favorites]

I love this! If you're looking for a pet, please please please consider adopting a "grown ass adult" cat or dog. My cat Laney was about seven years old and had been in a shelter for more than two years while people had passed her over for hundreds of kittens. Willow had been turned back in to an animal rescue at three for unspecified reasons from her second home. (I think the first was owner surrender due to the owner's health, so that's understandable...) And Bubby was down to one day in the shelter, he was an owner surrender at 14 because his owners said they couldn't afford insulin anymore.

They are all awesome and deserved a good home. There are so many more like them that need good homes. We do kitten fostering and kittens are so easy to adopt out. I think we're reaching 40 kittens adopted out in about two years. It's so much harder to find homes for adults and kittenhood only lasts a little while.

The great thing about looking for an adult cat to adopt is that adult cats (and presumably dogs) is that you know much more what you're getting. Their personalities are much more obvious.
posted by jzb at 6:25 AM on August 7, 2019 [13 favorites]

Yeah, I've dealt with kittens and they're cute but if I was ever actually home to have a pet, I agree with GrownAssAdult.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:33 AM on August 7, 2019

Just before the 2016 election season, my partner and I adopted an 11-year-old cat that probably saved my life. She's calm, and affectionate, and incredibly well-behaved. And a pushy, picky, goofy fluffbutt.

I can't imagine life without her. I hadn't originally wanted to get a cat quite so old, but I fell in love as soon as I met her. I worry about her sometimes because of her age (turning 14 pretty soon) but right now she's in great health. I would adopt an older cat again in a heartbeat.
posted by Gordafarin at 6:35 AM on August 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

jzb, so true. In my lifetime I have lived in households with two cats that were adopted as kittens, and a dozen that arrived as adults. The kittens were darling as kittens, because kittens are like that. But both grew to be grumpy standoffish cats. The adult cats were all charming. I'm going to say it is selection bias because otherwise I'd have to conclude I don't have what it takes to nurture a kitten. Either way I don't plan to get another kitten.
posted by elizilla at 6:36 AM on August 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

My kitty was about a year old when I got her, but she's 15 now. A common refrain in our household is:

"How is she so good?!"
"Lots of practice."

Get yourself a pet with lots of practice being good.
posted by brook horse at 6:40 AM on August 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

Losing my sweet boy a bit ago hurt so much. Mostly because of how it happened, maybe. I loved getting him at 3-4 and they said his last owner had died. He blossomed so much over the years. I don't know if I can get another even older cat like I just was looking at a 10 year old boy whose owner had to give him up after getting sick. I haven't gone to meet him yet.

But yeah, people who get older pets are amazing.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:43 AM on August 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

We adopted our cat, Meowser, from a shelter. She's missing a lot of teeth and their best guess was that she was 10. She was caught in a feral cat trap, skinny and living on the streets, but it's really clear that she lived with people at some point in her life. When we brought her home she know all the rules: no knocking things over, poop and pee in the cat box only, claw only the welcome mat, find a human and meow at them until they follow you if you need anything. She likes to hang out with us during family reading time and in general is good at being there when you need a cuddle and doing her own thing when you need space.

She did end up getting pretty sick after we adopted her and almost completely stopped eating at one point. The vet bills were no joke, but worth it considering that we had the world's most considerate cat. If I could do one thing over it would be to buy insurance.

But overall: A+++ adult cat. Would adopt again.
posted by Alison at 6:44 AM on August 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

I just told a Moth story last night about my old cat Rita, who I adopted when she was 17 years old. I figured I'd have to brace myself for her passing in a very short amount of time. She did eventually leave this existence...8 years later. Sometimes, grown-ass animals last longer than you'd think, and that's pretty awesome stuff.
posted by xingcat at 6:45 AM on August 7, 2019 [16 favorites]

About a month ago we adopted a 7 year old half lab, half canoe ballast, half vacuum cleaner. 10/10 would recommend.
posted by LegallyBread at 6:50 AM on August 7, 2019 [19 favorites]

We have only ever had rescue/shelter dogs. The first one came as a puppy, and that experience was enough for me to never want a puppy in the house ever again. They are cute, but so much work and destruction! Starting with an adult has been so much easier, and it is really heartwarming to watch them blossom with love and kindness.

Once our situation is more settled, I would love to add a cat to the mix; that also will be an adult, hopefully well into the mellow stage of life.

Personally I find the "grown-ass" phrasing too cutesy, but the message is good and hopefully lots of people see it.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:56 AM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I adopted our pair of cats at 9 years old, and they're total cuddly sweeties. Highly recommend. Currently trying to talk a friend of ours out of a pedigree puppy and into an adult shelter dog, because ethics aside I think it's an obviously better choice for someone who works full time.
posted by stillnocturnal at 6:57 AM on August 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

Battleship is close to 12 now, and we got him when he was 8, 5! pounds underweight, dirty, beaten up and needed a hefty trim. 100% recommend a big lazy cat who just wants cronches, a warm human and someone to headbutt.

Kittens are excellent but exhausting. Older cats can be left for a weekend without a worry and mostly just look concerned that we've disturbed their sleep. We would totally get a second cat, if we didn't think battlecat would get bullied (he's a wimp and a sucker)
posted by larthegreat at 6:57 AM on August 7, 2019 [10 favorites]

OMG I love Battleship!
posted by jzb at 7:19 AM on August 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Just adopted Sammy about a month ago. He is estimated to be between 5 and 7. He is a sweet dog who loves people and other dogs.
posted by Justin Case at 7:54 AM on August 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

We have three cats, two of which are senior. Emma, 15, is a precious little mouth siren. Arwyn, 14, is truly a best cat. She will help guide me back to bed in the dark by chirping when I’m about to walk into furniture. She will come sit on the arm of my recliner when I’m playing PS4 and will watch intently. I have chronic health issues and cannot take any direct weight on my stomach so Arwyn has learned she can only sit on my lap if I have a pillow there for her, and even then she will tap the pillow and make eye contact before climbing on to let me know she’s coming.

If her automatic feeder is empty at meal time, she will come find me and tell me, leading me back to the empty bowl. She will wait for me to fill all five feeder slots and close the lid before eating. Arwyn has learned to open the bedroom door and will come check on me if I don’t get down to breakfast on time before work. During afternoon naps she will quietly let herself into the room, climb on the bed, and lie down for a nap with her head resting on my shoulder. If the lights are visible under the crack in the door, she will pop the door open all of the way and loudly announce herself before coming in. When I work from home due to illness, she lies down next to my desk and stays with me all day long.

I was never a pet person before I met Arwyn but she and my girlfriend converted me. Cats don’t get more best than Arwyn.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:06 AM on August 7, 2019 [19 favorites]

We did just adopt a puppy from a shelter, but that was only because it was feared that any older dog could provoke a very bad reaction from the dog we adopted last year, a shelter dog with a dark, mysterious past (tripod, lots of little scars, extremely loving to people but with multiple no-warning attacks against other dogs since the adoption--she's now not allowed to leave the house without a muzzle).

At the moment, we're a lot happier with our older dog than our puppy, who's busy doing all the things that are so adorable and so frustrating about puppies.
posted by Four Ds at 8:19 AM on August 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

The last cat we adopted was a fully grown adult -- five or six years old, maybe -- and the adoption clerk was *delighted* we chose him, as he said he was the sweetest cat but kept getting passed over in favor of kittens.

Since we took him home, the second part proved not true but the first part most definitely was. He's a good, handsome boy.
posted by Gelatin at 8:23 AM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have adopted a middle-aged dog; he was such a sweet, funny guy. Current very good pupper was @ 1 year old. Recommend.

In many parts of the US, there are way too many dog and cats, and they will be killed. So many puppy mills are miserable, and breed dogs with poor health. Spay, neuter, adopt.
posted by theora55 at 8:38 AM on August 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

We got Jake the yellow lab at 2 years old, from a family that couldn't keep him. He's a terrible food but otherwise well behaved. We like to say that he's a good boy, mostly.

A year later, we took Jake with us to the shelter to get a cat. David went to the cat room with the volunteer, and announced, "Who wants out of this joint?" George stepped to the front of his cage and stuck a paw out, meowing. The volunteer brought him out to meet the dog, they were both good, and he was ours. He was between 1 and 3 years old, we think.

George was a sick kitty when we got him, but he's living his best life now, except we don't let him out. (I know, we are monsters.) Animal control had picked him up as a stray, but he has clearly lived with people before. We don't want to lose him.
posted by corvikate at 8:42 AM on August 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

Puppies and kittens. Been there, done that! I don't need to be talked into adopting an adult. The truth is that infant animals are just cute little hell raisers. They don't become people you treasure having in your life until they've got a few years under their belts.
posted by Transl3y at 8:57 AM on August 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I adopted my current cat, Phoebe, almost 3 years ago—the shelter thought she was about 3-4 years old. She’d been at the shelter for a year because she was very shy and cautious and didn’t “play to the crowd” during adoption showings.

Now that she’s home forever, she is absolutely full of personality and antics and opinions and I love her so much. In fact, she’s sound asleep on my lap as I write this. I think older kitties—and dogs—are especially grateful to be chosen.
posted by bookmammal at 9:02 AM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I did this with an 8 year old large dog with arthritis. I loved him and and he was awesome and just the best dog but being on that old age watch was too much for me. After 4 years he just was in too much pain and that visit to the vet had to be made.

Next time I couldn't do it. I got a one year old dog. Adopting seniors is great but it also has its drawbacks and that is the waiting for the goodbye almost from the start.

Also it was expensive. Not every one can afford the level of care some animals need. I don't regret any of it, but still there are drawbacks.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:03 AM on August 7, 2019 [9 favorites]

Any idea how to predict how well an older cat will travel? Been thinking of an older cat but also wondered about taking them on road trips since I started thinking about that as well.
posted by aleph at 9:06 AM on August 7, 2019

Oh good, I get to post a picture of Sally. My wife and I adopted her when she was 8 - she's 11 now. She's a sweet girl, and my only regret about getting her as an older dog is that I won't have her for as long.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

My husband and I adopted a bonded pair of senior cats who were dropped off at the shelter after their owner died. They are the best cats I've ever had.

Previous senior cats were a 17-year-old kidnapped from my neglectful ex-inlaws and a stray of indeterminate age but the vet said she was likely 10+ years old. They were also good cats.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:20 AM on August 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

We thought Sugar was an adolescent when she adopted us out of our back yard, because she was tiny and terribly skinny. Turned out she was four years old, just a very small person. We are madly in love with her. While she was cat#3 in our house for a while, cat #1 passed on and then cat #2 passed on, and Sugar has made it clear she is delighted to be an only cat at twelve. She's playing more and talking more, and luxuriating in getting all the petting she wants.

Be aware that the existing female cat in the house tends to be the matriarch, and cat matriarchs keep a firm paw on upstarts, so if you adopt a senior cat be prepared for squabbles and behavior issues.
posted by Peach at 10:02 AM on August 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

lesbiassparrow: I did this with an 8 year old large dog with arthritis. I loved him and and he was awesome and just the best dog but being on that old age watch was too much for me. After 4 years he just was in too much pain and that visit to the vet had to be made.

Next time I couldn't do it. I got a one year old dog. Adopting seniors is great but it also has its drawbacks and that is the waiting for the goodbye almost from the start.

I agree, and that is a good way to put it. I think adopting a senior pet is a great thing to do, but I also think one needs to be realistic about where one’s capacity for handling grief and loss is at that particular moment.

I had never had an upper age limit for adopting a pet and generally adopted whoever needed a home...until a two year period in which we experienced two pregnancy losses punctuated by the deaths of all three of our beloved elderly pets. I know there are no guarantees in life, but after all that grief we simply could not face purposely setting ourselves up to grieve another senior pet’s death in a few years and adjusted our upper age limit to five years old max, which still seemed a good compromise.

(As fate would have it, after saying “no puppies, adult dogs only” we ended up with a puppy who needed a home, but ye gods puppies are no joke. I wouldn’t purposely choose a puppy though he was cute as hell and he’s a great dog!)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:28 AM on August 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

My husband Tommy and I adopted Judy, a long-haired Chihuahua, from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco. She's great, and so is the organization. They have open houses on weekend afternoons and you can visit with the dogs.
posted by larrybob at 11:15 AM on August 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

A+++ content on this thread.

Having watched friends with puppies, they're really not that far short of human babies in terms of the attention needed. If and when I ever open up that margin in my budget to pay the $400/mo. for a Manhattan dogwalker (sigggggggggh), I'm definitely looking for one a little older. But I'm also bracing for the loss of another friend's dog right now (doing great on chemo now, but that only lasts as long as it lasts) and I don't know, I couldn't do that again on purpose in the near future.
posted by praemunire at 1:36 PM on August 7, 2019

Grandpa Mason should be enough to sway the hardest heart towards our senior animals.
posted by delfin at 2:57 PM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

We got PurrPup when he was "6 months old", but probably closer to 8 months/1 year, and although tiny puppies are cute, I really appreciated that he was already housetrained, out of the chewing phase, and knew some basic commands. It took us a few years for him to settle down to an adult temperament, so I could see really enjoying the heck out of a 2-4 year old lab mix.

A local rescue org is encouraging dogventures, where volunteers take a dog out of the shelter for a ride, walk in the park, and a treat. Hearing how the older dogs come out of their shells on their dogventure makes me want to snorgle them all.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 3:05 PM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

You won’t catch me humping your loafers.

I guess you haven't met our senior rescue dog. She's awesome.
posted by flyingfox at 4:20 PM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

We housesit and our specialty, entirely by accident, has become senior cats. We have adored every senior cat we have looked after. We decided that when we settle down, we will adopt only mature cats (senior if possible) and make sure they have a really loving golden years.
posted by rednikki at 6:37 PM on August 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

We do kitten fostering and kittens are so easy to adopt out. I think we're reaching 40 kittens adopted out in about two years. It's so much harder to find homes for adults and kittenhood only lasts a little while.

This is certainly true, although there are so many more kittens that really any adoption is very helpful. (The shelter we work with adopted out over 3,000 kittens last year, and it's just one of many in Los Angeles which has tens of thousands of kittens a year through its shelters). Kittens actually have the highest kill rate in shelters, sadly (both because there are so, so many of them and because the common agreed-upon definition of 'no kill' uses a definition of healthy animals that excludes kittens/puppies under 8 weeks).

But senior cats are more likely to get stuck in shelters for a long time (especially those that make it to no-kill shelters). And long-time shelter life is pretty stressful, so adopting them really makes a big difference.

And it can be hard to predict a kitten's adult personality, so when you adopt an adult cat you have a much better idea what they will be like (although they are likely to change some once they are no longer subject to all the stresses of a shelter).

Also staff and volunteers at a shelter will LOVE you when you adopt one of the long-time residents, who are all very well known and loved. :)
posted by thefoxgod at 8:36 PM on August 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yes, the shelter staff LOVE IT when you adopt a pet that has been a longtime resident! My cat Phoebe was at the shelter for a year before I adopted her, and one of the volunteers cried when I came to pick her up to take her home. She hugged me and was so happy through her tears! I send the shelter a photo each year on Phoebe’s adoption anniversary and they always appreciate it so much.
posted by bookmammal at 9:23 PM on August 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Cheezit (and Macaroni), both rescues, came with my now ex-roommate when she moved in with us in Florida. He was 6 then (and she was 3). Being a flamepoint Siamese he was very vocal and wanted a lot of social contact. He used to sit near my door and wait for me whenever I left the room. I can easily say I couldn't have gotten through the last years of grad school without him.

After graduation we went separate ways. I came to Vienna, my roommates to Oakland. In German class, I even wrote a story with pictures about his adventures with the starship troopers and space wars. Two years later, my ex-roomie was thinking to give him away, as they had a kid now and it was getting too crowded. On a whim I proposed that I could adopt him (as I was alone in Vienna).

Then began the great saga of Cheezit's transatlantic adventures. After a lot of planning and coordination, and health certs, we decided that I would fly in to SFO and bring him back on the same flight. It was a bit scary, we were really concerned how it was going to turn out. We had a cage with water and food and lots of pets before. But Cheezit had no doubts, just his usual being-vocal-at-home manner. The US immigration officer had a deadpan face when I said the purpose of my visit to the US was to pick up my cat. She was probably laughing inside. After 19 hrs with a layover in Copenhagen, Cheezit arrived in Vienna looking none the worse for wear. He was 11 when I brought him here. My wife (then-girlfriend) had doubts and got cold feet. But now they are inseparable and we have to negotiate with each other for Cheezy Jalebi's time. Cheezy Jalebi (aka Bandariya aka Chintu Baba ) doesn't mind and all he wants is to be in the same room as us humans. We have the occasional peeing on my things but it is quite rare. He is an indoor cat though we try to take him outside now and then.

He now has a EU pet passport which is more than I can say for myself. Sometimes he is Supercat, sometimes a pancake. He is very well behaved along with a little naughtiness. He even has his own bed time ritual that we have to engage in so that he gives us about 6 hours of peaceful sleep.
posted by ssri at 2:06 AM on August 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'm pretty sure puppies are more work than a baby. For one thing, babies don't need to be taken outside to pee every two hours, round the clock, in all weathers. Set a baby down and it stays put. They don't eat shoes, fox turds, or entire corn cobs, which seems funny until you find out they can't digest them and need to take puppy to the emergency vet to have their stomach pumped, at a cost of hundreds. Y'know, for example.

Oh yeah, and eventually babies grow up and stop being quite such a liability, whereas dogs, well, let's just say they peak early and low.
posted by Buck Alec at 8:26 AM on August 8, 2019

I adopted my own grown-ass adult cat who was ~5 when he just happened to be in the kitten room of a shelter when I was visiting. I was staunchly against getting a kitten (I was moving into a new space and couldn't handle the stress of training a cat) and this grown-ass cat looked so over being in the kitten room that I had to take him. He is 15lbs of chill, non-destructive, cuddly joy. The only downside is that he is so perfect that I'm hesitant to adopt a second cat because I'm worried that second can't couldn't possibly live up to first grown cat's standards.

Anyway. My experience convinced my sibling to adopt an 8 year-old cat that is also the best cat.

Grown-ass cats forevah!
posted by TwoStride at 8:35 AM on August 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

My pup is 5 and had been in shelters for 4 months before we adopted him. The staff was so happy that the sweet shy dog who hid in his enclosure for weeks was going to a good home. He looked so sad while in the shelter and people may have looked past him at the livelier dogs. He turned out to be the best dog we possibly could have chosen. Everyone should consider adopting older pets. *tear*
posted by Red Desk at 9:39 PM on August 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

We adopted a 5-year-old cat yesterday! We are first-time cat owners (though we had both lived in households with cats before), and we really wanted an adult cat whose personality was a known quantity, and who was somewhat more chill than most young cats. Meet Pepper.

The couple who had been fostering her said that she was their first foster cat who had been adopted. The others all lived out their lives in foster care.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:05 AM on August 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

« Older Move fast and break butts   |   Les Simpson Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments