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Are emotional support cats good for seniors?

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

When a senior thinks about adopting a cat, consider:


1. Physical ability: Seniors may have physical limitations that can make caring for a cat challenging. Tasks such as bending down to clean litter boxes, scooping litter, carrying heavy bags of cat food, or playing with an energetic cat may be difficult for some seniors. They may need someone, such as a friend, family member or visiting cat sitter to assist with these tasks.


2. Allergies: Some seniors may develop allergies to cats later in life, even if they have never experienced them before. It's important to ensure that the senior is not allergic to cats before bringing one into their home. Exposure to cat dander can cause respiratory problems, skin irritation, and other allergic reactions.


3. Maintenance: Cats require regular grooming, feeding, and veterinary care. Seniors should be prepared to meet these responsibilities or have a support system in place to help with these tasks. If a senior has difficulty with memory or cognitive issues, they may struggle to remember essential cat care tasks or medication schedules.


4. Mobility and safety: Seniors with mobility issues may face challenges in providing a safe environment for a cat or themselves. For example, consider whether the cat could be a tripping hazard and determine ways to address it .


5. Long-term commitment: Cats can live for 15 years or more, and seniors need to consider their long-term ability to care for a pet. Aging individuals may experience changes in their living arrangements or health conditions that could make cat ownership difficult or impractical. They should have a plan in place for the cat's care if they are no longer able to provide for it.


Despite these concerns, adopting a cat can bring numerous benefits to seniors, such as companionship, reduced stress, increased physical activity, and improved overall well-being. It's crucial to evaluate each senior's individual circumstances and ensure they have the necessary support and resources to meet the cat's needs throughout its life.

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