Cat adoption belfast
An adorable kitten would melt anyone's heart, but a Northern Ireland animal charity has appealed to would-be pet owners to consider adopting an older cat.
Cats Protection's Belfast centre is a temporary home to approximately 150 cats and kittens - all of whom are patiently waiting for new homes.
Staff say advances in veterinary care mean cats are now living longer, healthier lives.
But when it comes to finding a new home they are frequently overlooked in favour of fluffy, cute kittens.
The average lifespan of a cat is thought to be 16 years, however they can live into their 20s.
Bel Livingstone, manager of the charity's Belfast Adoption Centre, said: "While 10 years ago the household moggy could have been expected to live to around 13, today's life expectancy is much higher and we have seen many cats surviving to their late teens and early 20s in remarkably good health.
"Cats and kittens in the Belfast Adoption Centre come from a variety of different backgrounds including strays, welfare and mistreated cases and cats whose previous families can no longer look after them due to a change in circumstances.
"However, their longer existence places the Belfast Adoption Centre under strain because older cats can block up pen spaces for many months, which means we are unable to help other needy cats or kittens until the older ones are found new homes.
"It is a shame because older cats have a lot to offer, as they tend to be lap cats and have much more settled personalities.
"Though the Belfast Adoption Centre does its very best to care for all the cats in its care, life in a pen is no substitute for a permanent home so I would urge people to consider adopting an older cat."
According to Cats Protection, many adult felines end up in shelters due to no fault of their own.
Separated from their loved ones, surrounded by other strange cats, confined, confused, and sometimes frightened, many are emotionally devastated by their misfortune.
Sadly for too many adult cats, most people favour the adorable, bouncy, big-eyed kittens.
The charity said: "Older cats sit by and watch as one loving family after another passes them over for a cute kitten from this season's litter.
"Kittens will always be popular, and most have no trouble attracting admirers.
"But for the abandoned, forgotten and heartbroken adult cats, you just might be their last chance to have the love and warmth of a home where they can live out their years in comfort."