According to the National Humane Education Society, this week is National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, and November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month.
If you’re not sure what constitutes a senior pet, Pet MD cites that cats are considered mature at seven to 10 years old, senior at 11 to 14 and geriatric at 15 or older. The site also reports that most dogs are seniors by the time they’re seven, but larger/giant breeds are considered senior earlier in their lives (It varies from breed to breed).
Top Five Reasons to Adopt a Senior Pet
I know adopting a pet of any age can be a wonderful experience because I have adopted tiny babies and a senior pet. Since this month honors senior pet adoptions, I’m sharing five points I’ve noted after adopting Booms, the 11-year-old Siamese pictured above.
1 – Their personalities are already developed.
As I’ve learned from the first two kittens I adopted, a playful, cuddly kitten does not always mean a sweet, grown-up cat: Unlike the “devil cat” I had in the early 90s, the second kitten I adopted (who grew up in the same environment) turned out to be a sweet, cuddly lover-girl. (But, WOW, that first one was a terror!)
Alternatively, when you adopt an older pet, he or she will come along with insights from either the previous owner(s) or the shelter’s behaviorist(s). You’ll know if he or she is good with children and families, other pets, if he/she’s affectionate or more active/independent, etc.
2 – They’re already house-trained.
With puppies and kittens, there’s an amount of house training involved, whether that’s going outside or to the litter box to relieve themselves, not scratching the furniture or not chewing up your favorite shoes. Senior pets have typically already learned these things, thanks to their previous owners. They should also already know the meaning of the word, “No.”
3 – They have likely already been spayed, neutered or declawed.
Because most pet owners or shelters spay and neuter pets before you adopt them, it’s more than likely that you won’t have to go through the financial (and emotional) expense of these major operations with senior pets.
You’ll find that a number of former house cats have already been declawed (so they can’t shred your fine furnishings if you adopt them).
4 – They need playtime and mental stimulation in doses.
If you’re worried about the time investment in playtime, etc., older pets tend to need less of this — although they do need regular exercise and mental stimulation. (In my experience, you’re just less likely to have a kitten or puppy crawling all over you/your pillow when it’s time to sleep…)
You may also find that older pets need mini-breaks during exciting bouts of play and little more time to decompress after all the fun is over as well. But remember, older pets definitely need as much love as a pet of any age — so don’t skimp on those belly rubs!
5 – They give you the chance to save a life — and add a lot of joy to yours.
Anyone who has or has had loving pets in their lives will tell you that they can add a lot of love and a lot of joy to your life. Giving this chance to a senior also means that you’re giving him or her the chance to enjoy his or her golden years with you. Who wouldn’t feel good about that?
In addition to the points I’ve shared here, the ASPCA offers its own 10-point list of benefits, and shelters like the SPCA of Texas offer deep discounts for adopting seniors. So, check your local-area shelters for your options.
Senior Health and Well Being
When adopting a senior pet, you’ll want to be sure that you keep in mind a few key health and well being details to ensure that your senior lives a happy, healthy life.
- Pet MD stresses regular vet checkups, attention to teeth, diet and exercise among the things to watch to maintain health and well being.
- For an at-a-glance set of tips, this infographic from blogpaws or this one from a pet clinic in Washington state may be useful.
- You’ll want to also be prepared for the financial responsibility of vet care for conditions that apply to your pet.
- The older he or she is, the more likely he or she is to need dietary supplements and other care to ensure he/she lives out his/her days in comfort.
- Regardless, it’s always a good idea to ask your vet for health and well being advice during your regular checkups – especially regarding conditions that are typical to the breed of cat, dog or other pet you have.
Based on my own experience and the feedback of countless friends who have adopted older pets, I can tell you that giving a home to an older pet can generate many happy years and a lot of joy for you and the pet you bring into your life.
For a little flavor on this, check out the indoor pet safety video from TXU Energy and the SPCA of Texas shared below (All canine and feline stars — old and young — were adopted by their owners).
And, as any shelter will tell you, if you can’t provide a pet a forever home right now, your donations are always welcome and vital to the care of the animals they foster (Click here for a directory of animal shelters by state).