Lessons from Old Cats

For a while now, I’ve been taking in old cats – one at a time. Old cats are not easily homed – they come with short life expectancies, likelihood of expensive vets bills, and distress. If your old cat has spent its life with one family or human, the loss of them will likely grieve them. An old cat who has been rescued will likely have been through some shit and may have issues. Old cats, much like old dogs are slow to learn new tricks.

There can be no messing about when taking in an old cat. You know they might only have a year or two with you. So you have to be willing to love them as wholeheartedly as you would a young cat who might be with you a decade or more. You have to love from a basis of knowing you will lose them and that the more you love them the more that will hurt. But, they need you, and they need to be cared for and they need it to be ok that they will shortly break your heart.

They teach patience and compassion. They teach it as their minds and bodies fail. They teach it with their incontinence, their deterioration, their fragility and vulnerability. They teach you to think about what your own body might be like as it ages, and they help you face up to that.

Old cats brings lessons in ruthless pragmatism. They are going to die, sooner rather than later. There is nowhere to hide from this. You will have to make decisions about when to go to the vet, and when to let go and have nature take its course. They cannot live forever. They cannot always be fixed. They teach a person how to examine their own selfish urges to hang on, and how to think better about suffering and quality of life.

They teach acceptance, and trust. They bring you their fragile bodies, and their purrs, and their need for care. The ones who have been mistreated may show you their fear and you get to work with that and maybe win them round and perhaps you can teach them that the world isn’t such a terrible place after all. And whatever life has done to this point, a few good years, or even just a few good days, are still well worth having.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

5 responses to “Lessons from Old Cats

  • anaelleamaya

    Old cats deserve love and nurture as much as little kittens 💖 A few years ago I was looking a kitten, but I found a ginger -boy, who desperately needed a new home. He has grown from scared and (unfortunately bullied) boy, to a very loving and trusting cat 💖 Best decision of my life, to adopt him!

  • zita666479

    How many cats are you caring for now?

  • lingib

    They are angels in fur. I would never be without a cat, our pair are such characters. It doesn’t matter what age they are, they all deserve to be loved. They give back unconditionally. ❤

  • ingvenning

    Thank you so, so much for this post, and for being family to these cats, even though it isn’t always easy!

  • twa corbies (@kirbanita)

    I have two 16-year-olds now (in addition to the other six, who range from 4—I think—to twelve-ish). They aren’t related; I came by them when the original owners couldn’t keep them. They’re very opinionated old ladies; they remind me of my grandmothers. I’m going to hate being without them when they go.

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