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You may have been thinking about getting a cat for the first time, or maybe you've recently lost an elderly cat and you feel it's time to acquire another one, or perhaps you would like to have a companion for an existing cat - but have you thought about the possibility of adopting a slightly older cat rather a kitten? Everyone knows how adorable kittens are, but they don't stay like that for long, although it might feel like it as they go charging round the house, racing up the curtains and tripping up you and your visitors! You might have reached the stage in life when you don't necessarily want to take on the training of a young kitten, and maybe an older cat would suit your lifestyle better. And if you're looking for a companion for an existing, and perhaps slightly older and more staid cat, then maybe they too would prefer not to have a small kitten jumping all over them, wanting to play all the time, and then sleeping in their favourite bed! Whatever your reasons are, there are plenty of older cats looking for somewhere to call home, where they will be loved and looked after on an individual basis. Cat rescue centres always say that older cats are harder to re-home than kittens, as they don't have the cute factor, but they often make the ideal pet. Sometimes an adult cat has had to go to a rescue centre because their previous owner died, or was too ill to look after them, or they weren't allowed to have pets in a new home if they had to move. Some adult cats may have been taken in as they have been reported as being a 'stray' whose previous owner is unknown as cats do sometimes get abandoned. You will occasionally find pedigree cats in a rescue centre, but if you have set your heart on a particular breed of cat, breeders sometimes have older cats available for a variety of reasons - some reasons are similar to the rescue centres as responsible breeders will always try and help with re-homing where somebody is unable to keep a cat that they (as the breeder) have bred, or it may be the case that the breeder has had to neuter one of their breeding cats who now no longer gets on with all the other cats in the household, as can sometimes be the case. And occasionally breeders have instances of personality clashes with their own cats, and will have to re-home one in order to regain some harmony. Another way of finding an adult pedigree cat is to contact the Secretary of the one of the GCCF-affiliated breed cat clubs as they often know of adult cats of your chosen breed that are in need of a new home. Of course, you can also use pets4homes to find an older cat for adoption, via our cats for adoption page. You will need to discuss your circumstances with the rescue centre, breeder or cat club to make sure that you are paired up with a feline companion that provides the ideal match for both of you. You will probably be asked questions about any other pets you have, whether you are out all day, if you have small children or whether you live on a busy road. Some cat adoption centres like to pay a home visit first as they are keen that the cat in question is going to the right sort of home that will suit him as well as you, as they don't want to find in a few months that it hasn't worked out and the cat has come back to them again. So try and be patient about all the questions - the centre or breeder is trying to find a perfect match for you both! And if you already have a cat, or a dog, or have small children you will need to find a cat with the sort of temperament that will be able to cope with these situations. Sometimes you might be told that a cat needs to go to a home as the only cat, and you need to respect that request - the centre or breeder will have recognised that this particular cat will be happier with just human companionship, and may be best suited to someone who is retired or works from home, rather than someone who is out all day. In these circumstances, an older cat may well be free of charge, although you might be asked for a donation or to pay for the vaccinations or even a neutering operation as you will not be offered an 'entire' male or female cat. If you are re-homing an older cat from a recognised breeder, they will probably ask you to let them know how the cat settles in with you and they will appreciate some news from time to time in the same way as if you had purchased a kitten from them. Older cats sometimes take a bit longer to get used to their new surroundings, as it is all rather a shock to them. Try and keep them fairly quiet with not too many visitors for the first few days until they learn that this is their permanent home and that they can trust you to look after them and not hurt them. It's a wise precaution to keep a new cat in for at least a couple of weeks, until they are well established. Don't be cross with them if they do not use their litter tray at first - cats are very clean creatures, but for an older cat to have to get used to a new home is quite a traumatic experience and they may just panic slightly to begin with, preferring to find a dark corner to hide in until they feel reassured that this is a safe place to be. Let them have a bed in their initial chosen place, and give them a soft toy to cuddle up with until they choose to come to you. Be careful about how you introduce your new cat to an existing pet, as older cats are not quite as resilient as kittens, and your existing cat or dog might not be so tolerant of an older addition to the family. Try not to leave them alone together until you are quite confident that there will not be any serious problems - even the most established pets have the odd disagreement from time to time! And try and keep to the kind of food they have been used to, at least to begin with, and you can then gradually adjust their diet to fit in with any other cats you have.
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