Should You Adopt a Cat in Your Golden Years? The Pros and Cons of Getting a Furry Friend After 70


The question of whether a 70 year old should get a cat is an important one to consider. On the one hand, getting a cat can provide companionship and comfort to an older adult. However, taking care of a cat is a responsibility that requires physical activity, financial resources, and preparation for the pet’s lifespan. This article will examine the pros and cons of a 70 year old getting a cat in depth.


Cats can provide vital companionship and comfort for seniors, especially those who live alone. Studies show that companion pets lower feelings of loneliness and social isolation in older adults. Simply petting a cat can release oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin – hormones that boost mood and emotional wellbeing. The presence of a cat can also spark conversation with others. Cats are lower maintenance than dogs, so they may be a better pet companion for a senior who wants a loving pet but has limited mobility.

Research shows that seniors who own pets have less depression and better overall health. A cat provides a sense of purpose and structure to the day. Caring for a pet cat encourages activity and movement which is beneficial for seniors. Stroking a cat has been found to lower heart rate and blood pressure. Seniors report that a cat gives them a reason to get up in the morning. The companionship of a cat can make seniors feel needed and loved.

Given that many older adults live alone and are at risk for social isolation, adopting a cat can provide friendship and help combat loneliness. The comfort and unconditional love from a cat is shown to reduce stress and anxiety in seniors. Cats make wonderful companions that can greatly benefit seniors’ emotional and physical wellbeing.


Cats require a certain level of care and responsibility. As a pet owner, you will need to provide food, water, litter boxes, toys, and proper veterinary care. Cats may live 10-15 years or even longer, so owning a cat is a long-term commitment.

Litter boxes need to be scooped at least once a day and completely changed out every 1-2 weeks. You’ll need to monitor your cat’s food and water intake, making sure fresh food and water is available at all times. Cats are susceptible to various health issues like dental disease, urinary tract infections, diabetes, and kidney disease, so annual vet visits are a must.

As cats age, health issues become more common. You’ll need to be prepared to provide medical care, adjust their living environment, monitor their diet, and keep up with medications if needed. An older cat may require more of your time and attention.

While cats are lower maintenance than dogs overall, they still require daily care, attention, and responsibility. The commitment spans over many years, so be sure you’re prepared to be a responsible cat owner before adopting.


Getting regular physical activity is important for maintaining health and wellbeing as we age. Studies show that pet owners tend to be more physically active than non-pet owners. In one study, dog owners walked more and had higher overall physical activity levels compared to non-dog owners (Friedmann et al., 2023). While cats don’t require walking like dogs, playing with a cat still provides activity and exercise. Cats are very playful animals and can help encourage seniors to get up and play with toys like balls, lasers, and feather wands. This type of activity and movement is beneficial for senior fitness and mobility.

Having a cat also motivates activity in other ways, like cleaning the litter box and general tidying. Overall, studies show that pet owners tend to have better physical function as they age compared to non-pet owners (Martins et al., 2023). So getting a cat can encourage enjoyable activity that’s important for maintaining health as a senior.


Some seniors may be allergic to cats. Allergies to pets can cause uncomfortable symptoms like coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, and skin irritation (WebMD). Allergies are caused by proteins in cat saliva, skin flakes, and urine that trigger an immune response when inhaled or touched (NCBI).

Allergies often worsen with age as lung function declines, making airborne allergens more problematic (Oransi). An estimated 10-30% of people over 65 have cat allergies, so seniors interested in getting a cat should be tested first (WebMD). Treatment options exist such as medications, air filters, frequent cleaning, and certain cat breeds, but allergies may still be a dealbreaker for some seniors.


When traveling, there are a few options for senior cats. Many cat owners choose to board their senior cats rather than bring them along. Boarding cats allows owners to travel freely without worrying about their cat’s special needs. However, boarding can be stressful for elderly cats who prefer their normal home routine.1

On the other hand, bringing senior cats along while traveling is possible but requires more planning. Special accommodations like vet check-ups, medication, familiar items, and proper pet transportation are important for senior cats when traveling. Overall, senior cats may limit one’s travel flexibility. Cat owners should weigh the pros and cons of boarding versus bringing their elderly cat when planning trips. 2, 3

Living Situation

One consideration is whether cats are allowed in your living situation. Many senior homes have restrictions on pets. According to, some nursing homes allow pets or pet visitations, but policies vary. notes that most assisted living facilities allow pets, but each one is different. Be sure to check the pet policy of any senior home you are considering.

Space constraints may also be a factor, especially in smaller homes or apartments. Cats will need room to play and explore. Make sure your living situation can accommodate a cat before adopting.


A cat comes with ongoing financial responsibilities. According to the ASPCA, the average cost of food, litter, treats and routine veterinary care is around $35-$100 per month (Source). Food costs range from $15-$40 per month depending on the type and quality. Litter costs around $15-$30 per month. Annual veterinary costs like vaccines and checkups average $200-$400 per year. Emergency medical expenses like injuries or illnesses can add unpredictable costs as well. While cats are generally lower maintenance than dogs, it’s important to have a budget that allows for their ongoing care and expenses. With proper preventative care and emergency savings, cat owners can manage the finances of pet ownership.


The average lifespan of an indoor domestic cat is 15-20 years, with some living into their 20s and even early 30s (1). This means that a cat adopted at age 1 may easily outlive their 70 year old owner. It’s important for older cat owners to have a plan for who will care for their cat when they pass away. This could include asking a trusted friend or family member if they can take the cat. Some shelters and cat rescues also accept owner-surrendered pets after an owner’s death, but be sure to check policies. Otherwise, including arrangements for the cat in your will is advised (2). While cats are living longer lives thanks to advancements in nutrition and veterinary care, their lifespan is still longer than many elderly owners. Planning ahead helps ensure your beloved cat is cared for.




In summary, there are several pros and cons to consider when a 70 year old is deciding whether or not to get a cat.

On the pro side, a cat can provide companionship and help combat loneliness that sometimes comes with aging. Caring for a pet can also give a sense of purpose and responsibility. Interacting with a cat has been shown to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Additionally, a cat can encourage more physical activity as the owner needs to play with and care for it.

However, there are also some potential cons. Older adults may find it difficult to keep up with the demanding care required by a cat, including feeding, litter box cleaning, grooming, and vet visits. Cats can live 15+ years, which may be challenging if the owner passes away or moves to a care facility. Allergies and asthma are considerations, especially for seniors. Extensive traveling may also make pet ownership impractical.

Overall, while cats can make excellent companions for seniors, each individual should carefully weigh the pros and cons. Factors like health, mobility, finances, housing, and family support system should be taken into account. With proper planning and preparation, a cat can be a positive addition to a 70 year old’s life.

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