"I'm looking for a new cat, but I don't want an animal that's older than 1 year. I want to be able to watch it grow and inform its personality. I don't want an adult cat that's been broken by someone else."
People who walk into animal shelters often say things just like this. On the one hand, I applaud them for coming to a shelter to get a new baby. Anyone who rescues a shelter cat is a bit of a hero in my mind. But, in my animal shelter, I've seen cats adopted from the shelter as tiny babies, and then returned to the shelter at the 10-month mark for things like:
- Rambunctious play
- Night antics
- Bullying behaviors
Take Fergus, here. Our morning consists of feeding him, removing him from the counters 3 times while we're trying to eat, removing him from the recycling 2 times while we're trying to clean up breakfast and then stopping him from pouncing on his siblings 3 times before we go to work.
He has structured play sessions lasting 15 minutes about 6 times per day. He walks on a leash in the afternoons. He has access to a zillion toys. But he gets into things. He gets into trouble. He is busy.
And you know what? All that is normal. Every little bit of it. Seeing him through this stage takes a combination of grit, compassion, planning and time. People who don't have those components shouldn't get a kitten.
But that doesn't mean they can't get a cat.
Consider Popoki. She's just a year older than Fergus, so she's a young cat with a lot of life left in her. But all that kitten crap? She has no time for it.
Popoki enjoys a good play session. She likes to "hunt" for birds she will never reach in her catio. She takes leash walks around the yard. She runs up and down her cat stairs. If I am doing a project, her big head is in my way much of the time.
But she listens to commands and is willing to obey if I make a good case. She settles down for cuddles a lot faster than a kitten would. She prefers to observe, rather than attack, her roommates. In short, she is very close to the perfection people look for in a cat.
And when she was in the shelter, she was about 1.5 years old. For some, that's too old. For me, that's about perfect.
I know some of you would say this is a false equivalency, as I am comparing two very different breeds of cats. And the gender thing might play a role. I get that. But it's been my experience that 99.999999% of cats go through a mellowing process around age 2 that makes them loving and sweet. And that persists throughout life. I know kittens get there. I have no doubt Fergus will mellow with time.
But if I can convince even one adopter, someone who is pressed for time or new to cats or not that patient, to take an adult over a kitten? That's a great thing. If this post helps, I'll be happy.
What do you think? Did your cats mellow at 2, or was there another time in which they grew into great companions that took a little less work? Leave me a note in the comments and let me know!