Are Cats Therapeutic for Seniors?

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
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There are many things that are comforting about cats, which is why they offer so many therapeutic benefits for seniors.

Anyone who shares their home with a cat – or any pet, for that matter – knows just how much animals can be therapeutic on a daily basis. They can bring you joy, laughter, and comfort, and they keep you company when no one else is around. Plus, let’s not forget all of that unconditional love that they gladly shower upon you.

People of all ages, including kids, may find that having a feline companion in the family enriches their lives. But elderly individuals, in particular, could really benefit from having a cat. Here are a few reasons why cats can be therapeutic for seniors.

Cats Give Seniors Something to Care For

Elderly people can benefit from having someone to care for, and a cat could be the perfect solution. After their kids have grown and established families of their own, seniors are often left living alone, but a companion animal could provide them with a positive daily responsibility that keeps them alert and active.

Related: The Importance of Environmental Enrichment for Cats

In other words, a cat (or cats) can provide an elderly individual or an elderly couple with a sense of purpose. And because so many seniors live alone, pets can provide them with the company that they need so they are less likely to become bored, depressed, or lonely. And it doesn’t matter what the pet’s age is, as kittens to senior cats can all be loads of fun and full of love and loyalty.

The Health Benefits of Having a Cat

Seniors can receive a lot of love and attention from companion animals. Like dogs, cats show their affection in a variety of ways, from snuggling up with you when it’s time for bed to staying nearby while you’re preparing a meal in the kitchen. And what’s interesting is that these interactions can promote wellness in a variety of ways.

Studies have proven that pets, including cats, can provide a host of health benefits. For example, they can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, relieve stress, and improve mental health.

Even a cat’s purr may be healing to the human body, and simply petting a feline can help bring about a sense of calm, reducing feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Plus, in addition to cuddling with you and keeping you warm, having a quirky kitty around can also help boost your mood.

Overall, living with a cat can help a senior feel mentally, emotionally, and physically better. And if you’re adopting a kitty from a shelter or rescue group, that simple act can also make you feel amazing because you’ll help save lives and play an important role in helping animals. So, it’s definitely worth considering bringing a cat into your home if you’re a senior who wants more companionship, purpose, and laughter in your daily life.

Related: How To Bond With Your New Senior Cat

Cats Are Easy to Care For

Because cats are generally low maintenance pets, they are a great option for any senior who wants to have a furry companion to call their own. Indoor-only cats can be a constant source of affection, as well as entertaining when they play with their toys. And lap cats are more than content simply being near their owners, purring and being petted.

Any type of pet can be beneficial, but if you’re a senior who isn’t able to take a dog for a walk, a feline companion might be a better fit. With a few supplies, such as a litter box, bowls, toys, scratching posts, and pet beds, a kitty can start to feel right at home. Unless you want to take your cat outside (e.g. for a walk on a leash, into a catio or outdoor enclosure, or for a walk in a stroller), you don’t have to.

All of this means that adding a cat to your life doesn’t have to change your routine too much if you don’t want it to. But if you do want to find new ways of being more active while spending time with your pet, you can certainly do that with a kitty. It’s up to you, so taking your lifestyle, preferences, and activity level into consideration can help you find the ideal furry friend.

Choosing the Right Cat for a Senior

Cats of all ages can make lovely companions, so seniors can decide if they want to go with a kitten, an adult, or a senior cat.

There are several things to think about when it comes to caring for cats at different stages in their lives. For example, an adult kitty will already be trained in a lot of ways, whereas a kitten will need to learn a lot. Also, while a senior kitty can be the perfect companion because of her calm disposition, older cats might already have or develop health concerns or mobility issues, so they might require a bit more care or veterinary attention. Keeping these types of things in mind can help an individual bring home a feline companion that will be just right for their lifestyle.

If you want to help a senior in your life find the ideal companion, adopting an older feline may be the right solution. Visit your local shelter, as adult cats are always looking for homes. Again, these animals are calmer and just as sweet and loving as kittens, but they have already been trained and they already have established personalities. A kitten, on the other hand, may be too rambunctious and might require too much training for a senior to handle. Plus, adopting adult and senior kitties could save their lives before they are euthanized.

Considering Veterinary Care and the Future

Some seniors are concerned about the possibility that they may someday be unable to care for their pet, leaving their cat behind, and this could prevent them from adopting a kitty of their own. It is always a good idea to have a plan for pet cats, such as having a family member or friend adopt them, in the event that they need to be rehomed.

In terms of veterinary care, there are mobile services that can provide much-needed exams and treatments to kitties that are owned by seniors who don’t drive or who would have trouble transporting their cats. Another option might be to have a family member or friend help with trips to the vet.

Seniors and Cats: A Perfect Match

Whether you’re a senior or you know a senior who loves animals and could benefit from taking care of a pet, it’s clear that cats can be a good choice. Overall, kitties are wonderful companions to people of all ages, and they can be great pets for the elderly because they can help improve a senior’s quality of life while bringing endless amounts of happiness and love into any home.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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