Why Adopt a Senior Pet?
Puppies and kittens are the best, right? They’re cute, cuddly, full of energy. Even just looking at a kitten makes my day a brighter and better day. Who wouldn’t want one? There’s another population of pet potentials that gets overlooked though and it’s unfortunate that every day in our communities, beautiful loving pets are being euthanized. Why? They’re older, and because they’re older, they’re not considered adoptable. They’re passed over for those cute and cuddly puppies and kittens.
Most often, older animals are left behind in shelters as prospective adopters want a pet that they can raise and have for a long time. This means that older canines and felines have higher euthanasia rates than the younger ones, or are left to live the rest of their lives out in a shelter kennel. It’s a sad fact, but one that needs to be discussed.
November is a great month to bring awareness to this issue; it is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month! Any dog and cat 7 years or older is considered “senior.” Walking into a shelter, you’re bound to see older dogs and cats sitting patiently awaiting a soft voice, a kind hand, or even a friendly glance, a glimmer of hope that maybe this is their day that they get chosen to be a part of a loving family. They sit and wait, often scared, depressed, and almost always overlooked by potential adopters. Yet, ironically, they are often the perfect candidates for adopters; quiet, calm, housebroken, good with kids, affectionate and easily acclimated to a new home. They sit there patiently, waiting for someone to love them, until many times, it’s too late. I know this is a depressing topic, but it’s a topic that has become more and more important to me.
There are definitely pros and cons to adopting an older pet, but the same goes with puppies and kittens. One hesitation for a lot of people is that they don’t want to get attached to an older animal because they’ll have fewer years to live out. But turn that around. Think about it. You can give that older sweet lab, or that geriatric skinny black cat or even the Chihuahua with the overbite who’s so ugly that he’s cute the best life for their remaining days. That could be one year, it could be five or even ten. The point is, these animals are just looking for love and a forever home. You would be saving a life that someone else threw away. You would be a hero to that animal.
Here are a few other reasons you should adopt an older pet:
-Older pets tend to be calmer than younger ones, which often make them easier to train. They are more mellow and relaxed and ready for a new home. Most senior pets are just happy sitting at your feet or curled up next to you on the couch, just happy to finally have a place to belong. This brings me to reason number two:
-Senior pets are great company for senior citizens. Many elderly people find the calm presence of an older pet very comforting. They don’t mind hearing the same stories over and over again and are content to move through life at a slower speed. The perfect pairing!
-Senior pets are typically less demanding. Older animals have their routines and, while they still love to play, they love to relax, cuddle, and nap as well. As a result, they tend to fit in more easily into your daily routine. Senior pets also take the guess work out of a dog’s potential size, the nature of a cat’s adult personality, or the energy level of an adult. You get what you currently observe!
-Senior pets demand no huge lifestyle change. You don’t need to worry about kitten and puppy proofing your house and constantly training them. And older pets let you get a good night’s sleep! They don’t demand the time and attention that a younger dog and cat does and are satisfied with casual walks, cuddling, and a short play time. Many senior pets will snooze the day away inside while you’re at work and are waiting calmly at the door for you when you return.
-Senior pets are stress relievers. Life can be hectic and studies have shown that animal guardianship can decrease blood pressure levels and reduce stress. Senior pets enjoy leisurely walks and gentle play, which will encourage you to take a nice stroll through the neighborhood even just for a few minutes on your busiest days.
-Adopted senior pets are grateful. Somehow, older pets seem to know you gave them a second chance, when no one else would. Many new owners form a close bond very quickly with their senior dog or cat, because the pet shows them a level of attention and loyalty that is unique in adopted animals. You have become that animal’s saving grace.
Those are just a few reasons why everyone should look into adopting a senior pet. Kittens and puppies are fun, but don’t overlook the senior pets; they need love just like puppies and kittens do. Love has no age limit. Why not give them the best life possible? Adopting a senior pet changes not only their life for the better, but yours as well.
We are on the brink of the holiday season. What better time to provide a loving home for a shelter pet? Help one less animal spend the holiday season in a shelter. Be their Christmas miracle. You will be their forever hero.
Alicia, AA, AAS, LVT