Why Seniors Should Adopt Senior Pets

Table of Contents:

  1. Senior Pets Are (Relatively) Low Maintenance
  2. Many Senior Pets Are House-Trained
  3. Old Animals Are Eager for Companionship
  4. Things to Keep in Mind About Senior Pets

Puppies and kittens steal all the attention on social media, but shelters around the country are filled with older dogs and cats too. Unfortunately, animals with a little gray in their coats tend to wait around a lot longer for adoption, and many never get to see another home at all. Though adoption trends are beginning to shift, senior cats and dogs are still more likely to end their lives in a shelter than their younger counterparts. Adopting a senior pet doesn’t just improve a life, it can literally save one.

Here are just a few more reasons to brighten up your golden years by doing the same for an aging animal.

Senior Pets Are (Relatively) Low Maintenance

Keeping a pet happy and healthy is hard work. Young pets have almost limitless energy, but they’ve got little to no discipline. Countless pet owners have learned this lesson the hard way. That’s part of why so many shelters are filled to the brim.

While any pet will demand some work and patience, a senior pet promises far less chaos. They’ll offer affection without forcing you to give up on the rest and relaxation required for a happy retirement. That’s not to mention the up-front health costs you’ll avoid with an older pet. While some senior pets have complicated medical conditions, shelters ensure that they’re spayed or neutered and properly vaccinated.

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Cartoon by Sam Gross for The New Yorker

Many Senior Pets Are House-Trained

Younger pets don’t just need attention, but a thorough education as well. “House-training” a new cat or dog is never as easy as buying a litter box or developing a walking regimen, in fact, it’s far from it. Training a pet is a full-time job that often demands sleepless nights and messy cleanups. Puppies and kittens are babies after all. A senior pet will still need to adjust to your home, but this period will pass far more quickly than with younger animals. This should prove especially appealing for seniors who’ve either never owned a pet or have gone many years without one.

Old Animals Are Eager for Companionship

Training a pet comes down to far more than teaching them to stay, fetch, and roll over. Going from animal to pet is a gradual process, one that asks you to build trust and compassion through slow socialization. New pets and pet owners typically butt heads for quite a while before settling into domestic bliss. Most senior dogs and cats have gone through this process before. They’ve enjoyed past lives as pets and are eager to try it again. If you’re looking for a loving companion to snuggle with on the couch or share a leisurely stroll, you can’t do much better than an older cat or dog.

Things to Keep in Mind About Senior Pets

Adopting an older pet can mean serving as both companion and caregiver. Like us, cats and dogs can succumb to chronic illnesses as they age. Arthritis and hearing loss are just two of the many health concerns the human and animal worlds are unlucky enough to share. Caring for your new friend could require administering medication, selecting specific foods, and even adjusting your home and lifestyle to suit their unique needs. While you shouldn’t let the prospect of trips to the vet scare you away, it’s important to consider whether you’re fully capable of providing a comfortable home. Make sure you consult your own doctor — as well as a veterinarian or other animal expert — before you decide on adoption.

If you’re fit enough for pet parenthood, adoption could make you even healthier. Studies have shown that even a few minutes of bonding with an animal can fight depression, reduce stress, and even lower your cholesterol. Why not enjoy a few years of all that and more? Your new four-legged friend will thank you and so will your doctor.