Most cats can live up to 20 years and usually accompany people over this long period of time through all the ups and downs of life.
Cats are suitable companions for people in every phase of life. It doesn’t matter how you look or how old you are: If you give your love to cats, they will love you back. Since cats can live up to 20 years, they are often at the side of their people for a particularly long time, becoming family members and constant, loyal companions. Here you can find out what you should pay attention to in the different stages of life when keeping a cat.
Cats – Companions for Life
Partners come and go, children grow up and move out, the cats experience all of this together with their owners. They are often an important support for living together or one’s own psyche. There are many stages of life in which one or more cats can come into the family, your own apartment or house, and enrich life. It is important to reconcile the needs of humans and animals and to set up the home for the new roommate, but also to adapt to the change yourself.
Children and Cats – Tips and Recommendations
Many children want a pet to play with, pet, or learn something new. They often want an animal very early on and many families only get one because of the vehement demands of their children. However, please only get a cat if you have dealt extensively with your husbandry requirements and have ensured that the cat can be cared for in a species-appropriate manner – for the next 20 years. Cats (and all other animals) are not birthday or Christmas gifts!
These are the Effects Cats Have on Children
Children and cats are a sometimes difficult, but also an enriching combination. On the one hand, keeping cats can reduce the risk of allergies, because if children have contact with the animals at an early age, their immune system can develop corresponding antibodies. However, living with pets from an early age does not lead to more pet dander allergies than in children who grow up without pets. In addition, keeping a cat has a positive effect on many areas:
- Responsibility: By feeding, caring for, and interacting with the animal, children learn to take responsibility for someone else.
- Self-confidence: The child realizes how important it is in the cat’s life and consciously carries out the responsible activities so that the cat is happy.
- Balancing emotional stress: The greater the stress in kindergarten or school, the more likely it is that boys and girls will return to their pets and accept them as silent counselors. You always have a playmate or someone to listen to.
- Increased fitness and activity: When playing with the cat, the children do not sit in front of the television for hours, but move with it, throw balls, toys, and strings, or, as far as their age and space allow, romp through the garden or apartment together.
- Positive effect on social behavior with other children and adults: Children living with cats can have a positive effect on their social behavior because the children take what they have learned with them into every environment and situation. Many children who are used to dealing with cats are more sociable, open-minded.
Getting to know empathy and boundaries: Since cats naturally have a mind of their own, the children learn very quickly to react sensitively to the moods of others and experience the given boundaries of others.
When is the Right Time for a Cat?
It is impossible to say when exactly the right time for a cat is. It all depends on the child’s willingness to take responsibility and the child’s understanding of the cat. The important thing is that the child must be able to understand that a cat has its own needs and does not want to be petted and carried around everywhere and everywhere.
Children from about three years can be introduced to the cat. If there is time and space, a young baby cat can also be brought into the family. The main responsibility for the cat always lies with the parents! You must also ensure that the child learns how to handle the cat properly and instill knowledge about cats.
If the cat is already in the house and children come along, this is usually not a problem for the child and the animal, as both can get used to each other well.
Attention: A cat should never be bought just because it has positive effects on children. The cat’s welfare comes first and if you can’t take care of a cat properly and give it the love and attention it needs, don’t get a cat!
Cats as Companions for the Elderly
Pets and especially cats are not only educational and lovable creatures for children. Even in old age, living with a cat can be a wonderful time that enriches everyday life and provides variety. Loneliness, depression, and addictive behavior can occur later in life when social contacts are absent and isolation takes place. Cats provide companionship and can sustainably improve well-being and health.
Physical contact with the cat alone helps many people to lower their heart rate, relax and relieve emotional stress. The purring of cats also has a healing effect. Some psychologists confirm that being with the cat can interrupt negative thought processes, making crises and difficult times easier to overcome.
dr Andrea M. Beetz from the University of Rostock is an expert in the field of human-animal relationships. She found out that regular physical contact with stroking releases the bonding hormone oxytocin, which makes you feel good (other examples: release at birth, being in love, or positive interaction). In her study, she points out that this can reduce pain, restore trust in other people and increase empathy.
Which Cats are Suitable for the Elderly?
When choosing a cat, however, older people should keep in mind that they can live up to 20 years and expect a certain amount of costs for food, care, vet visits, and accessories. In addition, there is the problem of care if the owners are prevented by health or if they are to care for a longer period of time. A contingency plan should therefore be in place for every pet in case the (single) owner has an accident, has to go to the hospital or something else happens that makes them unable to look after their pet.
As a rule, it is not advisable to bring a very young and agile cat into the retirement home, as it requires a lot of care and activity. Instead, optimal partners for older people are slightly older cats from five to ten years of age, who have a calmer disposition. Many senior cats are less active, sleep a lot, and tend to play less than their young counterparts.
For older people, living with a senior cat is ideal, as both can get used to a shared routine that includes regular hours of the day and activities. The regulated daily routine is not always easy for single and elderly people to manage, but the cat demands its food at regular times and in many cases wants affection and activity, even at an advanced age.
Cats in Nursing Homes
More and more retirement and nursing homes use the presence of animals such as dogs or cats to provide positive support for the elderly. Many retirement homes allow you to keep your own pets if the space allows and the pet is not too big. Some dormitories welcome the keeping of cats and co., as the pets lift the spirits, make everyday life more bearable, and also have a supportive effect on cognition and memory.
Alternatively, some clubs and volunteers bring their animals to retirement homes and help people with dementia, for example, on levels that are no longer possible through human communication.
There are also many so-called therapy cats, which psychologists include in their treatments in order to achieve a positive effect on anxiety, depression, and other illnesses. Cats are sensitive and can adjust to the emotions of their counterpart. In this way, therapists have easier access and patients open up more easily when they are with the animal.
Alternatives to Your Own Cat
Anyone who cannot afford a cat or who cannot take care of it properly due to illness has the option of volunteering at an animal shelter or as a cat sitter. So you don’t have to do without a life with cats and volunteering helps people and animals of all ages!