Adopting Older Pets

Puppies and kittens are cute beyond words, but older pets have other charms and benefits that come with maturity. Adult pets, especially those with a few years of life experience, are often already housetrained, and they are usually calmer than more rambunctious, younger pets. In spite of these benefits, older pets are more likely to be overlooked in animal shelters, even though they may have many more years of love to give.

While older pets can be a joy to people of all ages, they are a natural fit for older people. For that reason, Nevada Humane Society and many other shelters offer special adoption rates to senior citizens when they adopt a mature pet.

The benefits of pets for seniors are well documented including lower blood pressure, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and improved overall health resulting in fewer doctor appointments. Many seniors also report that pets give them a renewed sense of being needed and provide companionship that wards off feelings of loneliness.

There are a few things to consider before showing up on your grandmother’s doorstep with a new dog.. If the pet is not for you but a gift for someone else, giving a gift certificate for a pet adoption is definitely the way to go. That way the recipient gets to select their own pet. All relationships depend somewhat upon chemistry and adopting a pet is no different. Selecting the pet is a great experience and one you can share with the senior citizen in your life.

“That was quite an experience coming to pick out my present from my granddaughter, a new cat,” wrote Lois who is 79 years of age. “I was looking for a striped cat, but when I passed Missy, a tuxedo cat, she curled up her paw as if to say, ‘come here, I want you!’ When I first took her home she hid under the couch, but she soon came out and right to me and into my heart. When a visitor comes over, into their lap she goes. I have always had cats, but never one like this!”

We recently received a photo of a contented orange kitty sprawled on the floor with a note from Phyllis that read; “Almost three years ago, I adopted Taffy. I had lost a cat I had for 18 years and came to the shelter to find a new kitty. Taffy picked me and she is my best friend. ”

Lifestyle should also influence choice of pets for everyone but especially for seniors. If you or your older friend or family member likes going for relaxed walks, a nice older dog may be a perfect fit.

“Millie came to live with us just after New Year’s Day. There’s still a lot of pup in this 10-year-old,” wrote Linda. “Millie and Bella, our other dog, play every day. We are so thankful we found her!”

For many less active people, an adult cat or small dog may be the best choice. Just this week, Mr. Fantastic, a handsome 12-year-old cat who had been at the shelter for quite a while, was adopted. The description on his cage card said: “I am a fantastic cat – all love and sweetness. I will shower you with affection!” Charlene, a 72-year-old who recently moved to Reno, came and fell in love with Mr. Fantastic’s good looks and sweet nature. Talking with Charlene, it is obvious that they are delighted with their life together.

Retirement and the void created when children have moved out leave some people living alone and lonely. The companionship of a pet not only helps people to live longer, but dramatically improves their quality of life. The pets are winners too – adopting an older pet can quite literally save their lives.


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