Senior Musings April 2010

Posted 04.14.10


BobbiThose of you who have read my columns in the past know that I'm a cat-lover. But I actually love all kinds of animals. We had both dogs and cats when I was growing up, but I've never had sufficient room or the kind of schedule that would allow me to own a dog.

And although I love horses and birds, I'm allergic to both.

So I'm not writing as someone who prefers cats as pets, but rather from a practical point of view.

Young families and dogs seems to go together. The children have an active playmate, learn responsibility by having to walk the dog, and there's often a measure of protection by having a dog present when strangers might want to approach.

Even after the kids are grown, couples enjoy having a dog, and feel it's a good way to encourage them to get outside and walk.

But the time comes when a dog is no longer practical. Dogs have to go outside, regardless of how treacherous the weather. They are more expensive to feed and need to be professionally groomed.

Obviously, the ideal pet for a senior is a cat.

But don't be tempted by a tiny kitten. An older cat (2-5 years old is ideal) is already trained, spayed or neutered, and usually healthy, since many of the most serious cat diseases show up before the first few months of life.

Is this a cat who is spotless, with clean ears and eyes, fresh breath (an indication of healthy teeth), and silky, shiny fur? Is he or she friendly or shy? Does he like to be held and petted, and makes eye contact with you? Can you take a paw in your hand without the cat pulling away in fear or attempting to bite or scratch?

Check several humane societies, SPCAs, and rescue groups to find an older cat up for adoption. Select a shelter with a vet who checks the animals as they arrive, where shots and micro-chipping are included in the adoption process, and consider purchasing pet insurance, which can help with any vet bills that you incur later on.

You will be blessed with a grateful pet who might otherwise have not survived, leaving the tiny kittens (who are only cute for a few months) to climb somebody else's curtains.

There are many myths about cats, that they need to go outdoors, and that they can't be trained. Both of these assertions are false. Cats are perfectly happy indoors, especially with a senior who is home a lot. They can be trained to stay off antiques or special pieces of furniture (as well as kitchen counters and the dining room table!), to come when they're called, and to scratch only on the scratching board(s) you provide.

I have an award-winning article on my website called Training Your Cat Like a Dog, along with many pages of helpful information about cats, including facts, resources (including helpful books to purchase or borrow from the library), websites you can check for health and behavioral information. Start at www.SimonTeakettle.com/lovecats.htm

Terzo has a popular blog on the website, and he also has a Fan Club on Facebook! It's at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=246728389800.

(Bobbi shares her website with Simon Teakettle III (Terzo) at: www.SimonTeakettle.com)

E-mail Bobbi at BFG@SimonTeakettle.com, and visit her website: www.SimonTeakettle.com

Copyright © 2010 Barbara Florio Graham/Log Cabin Chronicles/04.10