Benefits of Owning a Cat in Your Golden Years: Improving Mental Health, Creating a Safe Home, and Assessing Your Ability to Provide Care


Cats make for the perfect companions later in life. They don’t require daily walking and are more independent than pampered pooches, but they still love to cuddle and play with you.

The companionship that a kitten brings to your life can significantly improve your mental health and well-being, too. Cats can help you overcome mental health challenges related to loneliness and provide emotional support throughout the day.

Caring for a cat can give purpose to your day, too. This can be a powerful change in lifestyle if you’re new to retirement and are struggling to find a routine that works for you. However, before you bring a kitten into your home, you need to make sure you’re ready to take on the responsibilities associated with caring for a cat in your golden years.

Benefits of Owning a Cat

Cats are more than companions who laze about your home and eat all your tuna. Cats can significantly improve your health and help you overcome challenges like:

  • Stress: 10 minutes of stroking and cuddling your cat can decrease your cortisol levels and improve your mood.
  • Addiction Recovery: Caring for a cat gives your day a clear structure. This can help you quit alcohol and gives you something to do other than turn to drink or other substances.
  • Physical Health: While you shouldn’t walk a cat on a lead, playing with your kitten is a great way to improve your balance and coordination.

Caring for a cat is deeply rewarding, too. The pride you’ll feel while caring for a kitten or an older cat is all but unparalleled. If you are considering adopting a cat, make a trip to a local shelter to find a kitten or older cat that needs a new home. Adopting in retirement is a great way to ensure that you find a kitten whose personality suits your own. Just make sure you do your research and assess your own home before you decide to bring a cat back with you.


Assessing Your Home

A cat will brighten up your home and make your space feel alive again. However, you need to make sure that your home is a safe, engaging space for your cat before they come home with you. The Battersea Shelter suggests a few simple remodels and decore changes like:

  • Make your home escape-proof — this includes chimneys!
  • Choose one room as a base for your cat. Ideally, this room will be quiet enough for them to settle in without too much sensory overload.
  • Give them a place to hide. Even a small blanket nook or cat igloo can help your cat feel at home quicker.
  • Use a pheromone diffuser to reduce your cat’s stress and help them settle in.

These small changes will make your home a safer, more relaxing space for your kitten. Take the first few days and weeks slowly and make small adjustments to your home if you notice that your cat becomes attached to certain blankets or toys.

Remember to adjust your home to better suit your needs, too. As you enter later life, you may need support with mobility aids and extra lighting. For example, if you develop cataracts, you may notice double vision and “halo” effects in your sight. Cataracts are caused by aging but usually take years to form. Get your house in order by installing overhead LED lighting and touch-based switches. This will help you care for your cat and will ensure that you are both safe and comfortable in the space.

Your Ability to Provide Care

Cats are more independent than dogs and more engaging than other pets like fish or rabbits. However, you still need to be in good enough health to be able to take care of your cat. Before bringing a kitten home from your local shelter, touch base with your doctor to better understand your current physical abilities.

If you’re concerned about your health impeding your ability to care for a cat, speak to your general practitioner and book yearly preventive health check-ups like:

  • Physicals: Your doctor will check your vital signs like blood pressure, heart function, and lung capacity.
  • Hearing Test: Audiologists can assess your hearing and check for damage that may undermine your ability to hear your cat.
  • Dental Check: A dental check can prevent gum disease and spot early signs of conditions like oropharyngeal cancer.

Yearly check-ups can help you get ahead of health issues and ensure that you are able to care for your cat in your golden years. Your GP may even be able to recommend a series of strengthening exercises in preparation for your adoption, as you’ll need to do plenty of lifting and stretching when your first bring your new feline friend into your home.

You should also draw up a budget before bringing your cat home. Cats cost at least £11,000 over their lifetime and you’ll need funds available immediately for things like chipping, screening, neutering, and toys. Plan these costs out beforehand to reduce your stress and plan your expenses.



Adopting a cat can give you purpose and help combat loneliness in your golden years. They make for wonderful companions and know how to break you out of a funk. However, before you adopt, you need to consider your ability to provide care and should make a few adjustments to your home. This will prevent any mishaps and ensure that you can provide a safe, happy environment for your new feline friend.

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