Old lady gets a kitten: pros and cons


Lady Ursula surveys her new domain in alarm. But is it ethical or wise of me to own a cat?

All right all right, so I’ve done it again. Got a new cat, in spite of all the arguments against it. Is that wise? Is it ethical? Is it even safe? Watch me torture myself in public over this decision.

Introductions first. Her name is Ursula, which slid into place merely because it means “little bear” and she is rather teddy-bearish in shape and texture. Breed: British shorthair, and colour: chocolate. She is almost four months old.

Is it ethical to own a cat at all?

This is a hot argument in New Zealand at present. Feral cats and domestic cats eat native birds by the ton. They also eat rats and mice, which eat native birds.

This argument is easy to deal with in the case of Ursula. I live in an apartment, second floor. The boundary of her estate is a deck, and if she is feeling energetic, a dangerous rooftop. Not a habitat of native birds. If the occasional sparrow flies down Ursula’s throat, they knew the risk. Should have listened to Mummy Sparrow.

Ursula can never roam, not even into the neighbour’s garden, and this will not frustrate her in the slightest. That’s why I chose a British shorthair. The polar opposite of Burmese or Siamese, their idea of fun is lolling around the house all day. At present we are teaching her how to play. Teaching her!  And she’s a kitten!

Is it wise for an older person to own a cat?

Arguments against (wild generalisations):

  • Many old people trip over their cats and break a hip. I am very sorry to hear that, and I do see the risk.
  • Cats can spread a parasite that causes dementia in the elderly. (But not, I think, a hermit cat bought from a reputable breeder.)
  • They smell. Yes, they do! And some people, including dear friends of mine, are allergic to cats.
  • Keeping a cat costs money, especially when the vet’s bills roll in. And I’m on an economy kick, planning for when my business income drops away one day. To own a cat is crazy!

Arguments in favour (brutally paraphrased):

  • Stroking animals lowers blood pressure and makes people happy. I don’t have high blood pressure and I’m not lonely or depressed but hey, why not?
  • Heart attack victims who have pets survive longer than those without pets. Be prepared!
  • I’m trying to get used to the idea of being old. So I’m embracing the stereotype: old ladies have cats.
  • Having responsibility for an animal is a factor in keeping older people alive as well as happy. Beat that! End of story!

Afterthoughts that are really my core reasons:

  • Pure pleasure and amusement.
  • Aesthetic buzz: beauty in motion.
  • Companionship. Hey there pal!
  • The mysterious sense of another living spirit in my space.

The debate about owning cats in New Zealand

Health benefits of owning pets


18 thoughts on “Old lady gets a kitten: pros and cons

  1. fandancer2013 says:

    Oooh a kitten! Scrumptiousness! Ignore all the negative points, there is only joy and pleasure to be had from owning a cat. We have a cat living on our boat, we found her as an abandoned feral kitten in Greece, and now we wouldn’t be without her. Can’t wait to hear more about Ursula.

  2. A boat cat! Wow. You are quite right of course. I stacked the arguments in favour but even so, I’ve just added a few more, thanks to you.

  3. Sylvie G says:

    how could you possibly resist ?

  4. Espirational says:

    As a semi-crazy cat lady myself, I think it’s great! I plan to have at least one cat until I die or they cart me off to the home. 🙂

  5. Well researched case and I’m glad you decided to go for it!!

    1. It was a matter of justification after the event than preparatory research. But you guessed that!

  6. kiwinana says:

    It was very interesting reading about the feral cats, I live in East Taranaki NZ. At the moment I’m feeding two cats that someone dumped in the bush, I can’t touch them but they come morning and night to be feed, when I open the door they dive under the house and come out to eat once I go inside. I need to feed them so the kiwis can breed, I wish people would dump cats.
    Hope you have many years of enjoyment with your puss.

  7. ifh2015 says:

    From one cat lady to another, go for it and enjoy the experience.

  8. Katherine Swart says:

    She’s such a lovely colour, a lovely chocolate cat, I can see why you’re completely in love with her, I would be too. Ursula will have a big fan base!

    1. I think you are right. Her photo on Facebook got 95 likes.

  9. fandancer2013 says:

    Does she have her own Facebook page? I’m sure it would be popular.
    Our boat cat Artemis has one – search for Ketch Kitten…..

    1. She doesn’t have time. Heavens, don’t you know how many socks she has to kill each day? Her work is never done. But we will find ketch kitten.

  10. Robyn Haynes says:

    Your afterthoughts are the only considerations I can see. Enjoy Ursula!

  11. Marc-André says:

    How could one resist a kitten 😉

  12. jameswharris says:

    I love cats, and miss having one. But my last two got very expensive as they got very old, and ultimately, I was tied to the house because of their medicine schedule. So I’m going to wait a while before getting another cat. I’m not sure I can out live another cat though, and I’d hate to abandon a cat friend that way. Your new kitty is a cutie though.

    By the way, vets in the U.S. recommend you always keep a cat indoors. I feel bad about that, but they actually live much longer.

    1. I understand. I’ve watched friends go through the same painful process with their aging cats. Wow, so keeping cats indoors is good for their health! That’s a plus for Ursula.

  13. Claudette says:

    I want a cat now. Or 2.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Hm, so Ursula has been proselytising. Bad girl.

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