The 6 Cat Life Stages

The American Association of Feline Practitioners has outlined the 6 distinct cat life stages, and what cat owners can do to provide the best care for their cats at each stage of life, from kittenhood to geriatrics.

Here’s a quick overview, and be sure to visit the AAFP website for the full details, and for lots of other useful cat care information as well!

Kitten (0-6 months):  This is the easiest stage to introduce your kitten to children and other pets.  It’s also the best time to establish a regular routine for nail trimming and tooth and coat brushing.  Teach your kitten to become comfortable with the carrier and rides in the car.

Junior (6 months-2 years):  Cats become sexually mature as young as 6 months of age, so be sure to have your cat spayed or neutered by this stage to avoid unwanted litters and improve your cat’s behavior.

Prime (3-6 years):  While cats are often at their healthiest at this stage, it’s still important to bring your cat to the veterinarian for regular wellness checkups and preventive care like dental cleanings.

Mature (7-10 years):  Some cats become more sedentary and less playful at this stage.  Be sure to keep your cat at a healthy weight to avoid the health problems associated with feline obesity, a common problem in older cats.

Senior (11-14 years):  Cats at this stage are roughly equivalent to human seniors in the 70+ age range.  Consider increasing vet visits to once every 6 months at this stage of your cat’s life.

Geriatric (15 years and over):  While the average cat lifespan is around 15 years, many cats can live well beyond their teens and into their 20s.  Monitor your older cat for health and behavior changes and talk to your vet about managing chronic health issues.

 

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“Mission Adoptable” Videos Spread the Word About Senior Pet Adoption

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, a great time for animal welfare organizations to raise awareness about adopting homeless dogs and cats that are 7 years of age and older.

As part of this awareness campaign, Animal Planet has created a series of heartwarming videos about special pet adoption stories called “Mission Adoptable.”  Be sure to check out their website for all the adorable videos.  Here are just a couple of our favorites!

Diamond’s Story:

 

Matti Jo Jo and Beau Beau Jones’s Story:

 

Nutmeg, World’s Oldest Cat, Passes Away at 32

Many pet health experts consider cats to be “senior” after the age of 7.  If your cat has reached the age of 20, then he or she is definitely in the senior range.  But what about a 32-year old cat?  That’s roughly the equivalent of 144 human years!  One British cat named Nutmeg reached the ripe old age of 32 before passing on in late August.

According to Nutmeg’s owners, interviewed in a recent People Magazine article, this sweet guy enjoyed very robust health for most of his long life.  He lost most of his teeth and did suffer a stroke back in 2015, but he recovered and went on to live two more years.  His owners, a couple with no children, considered Nutmeg to be their child.  “We both feel like our hearts have been ripped out.  He was our little boy,” they said.  Anyone who’s ever lost a beloved pet, regardless of age, knows that feeling.

Here’s a video of Nutmeg from back in 2016.  His owner lovingly refers to him as a bit of a grumpy grandpa, but it’s obvious that he was a real sweetheart!

 

Image of Nutmeg from Westway Veterinary Group Facebook page.

Senior Dog Adoption Rate is On the Rise

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Senior dog advocacy group The Grey Muzzle Organization has released the results of a survey on the adoption of senior shelter and rescue dogs. There’s been a growing interest in the adoption of senior dogs over the last few years, and the numbers prove it. Once considered virtually unadoptable, senior shelter dogs (and cats) are now benefitting from a senior pet “trend” across the U.S.

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Why the growing interest in senior dogs? Grey Muzzle reports that more people are open to the idea of adopting an older dog, and they recognize the benefits of bringing a calm, well-trained, and adaptable dog into the family.

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Grey Muzzle provides grants to organizations that assist at-risk senior dogs (including the FACE Foundation!) and they surveyed 30 grant recipients that helped dogs in 2016. Here are the key findings:

  • Two thirds of respondents reported that the situation for homeless senior dogs has improved over the last 2 years.
  • 80% of the respondents said they have seen positive changes in the public’s perception of senior dogs.
  • The majority of senior dog adopters choose older dogs for altruistic reasons…to provide them with a comfortable home for their remaining years.

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  • One half of the respondents said that more younger people are seeking out senior dogs. Social media may be a factor…seeing pictures of dogs they want to help, and also the “trendiness” dynamic.
  • Two thirds of survey respondents report that senior humans are still the most likely adopters of senior dogs, since a low-key pup is just the thing for humans who have slowed down a bit.
  • Most respondents agree that the main factors in not adopting a senior dog are fears of the dog passing away quickly, and also high veterinary bills. Advocates note that the word “senior” can be used for dogs as young as 7. For many, that’s just middle age. As for vet bills, Grey Muzzle notes that they and their grantees (like FACE) provide assistance for veterinary care to qualified pet owners.

 

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month

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It’s always a good time to adopt your new best friend, but why not consider adopting a senior dog or cat during the month of November in celebration of Adopt a Senior Pet Month? Open your heart to a senior pet from your local shelter or rescue group. Many of these sweet animals have lived most of their lives with a family, only to have been surrendered as older adults. You can help turn their lives around…and get a calm, loving, and well-trained companion while you’re at it.

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Here in San Diego, the San Diego Humane Society is waiving adoption fees for all animals 7 years and older during the month of November. You can find similar incentives at shelters and rescue groups all over the country.

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Check out this heartwarming video of adoptable senior pets from the Best Friends Animal Society, as if you needed any more inspiration: