November is Adopt A Senior Pet Month! Many people go to animal shelters and rescues, looking for puppies and kittens that are tiny and cute and that can grow up in front of their eyes. Unfortunately, this makes it quite difficult for senior pets to get adopted to new families. Here are some reasons you should look for an older cat or dog next time you feel ready to add a furry friend to your family!
1. With older animals, what you see is what you get. They have already grown to their full size and have developed their personality. You won’t have to wonder if they will gain some unfavourable behaviours as they age. You will also know if they have any medical issues that require extra cost or care before adoption, and if they are good with dogs, cats, children, etc. In other words, the chances of any surprises after taking a senior pet home is very slim.
2. Senior pets are already house trained. Older dogs likely won’t have accidents in the house or chew things up around the house, and older cats will already be litter box trained and shouldn’t scratch up your furniture. They also already have manners, since they have already been socialized with people for so many years. Most older dogs have already been taught commands, such as “sit”, “stay”, and “down”. There should be very little training required once you take your new family member home.
3. Senior animals require much less attention than puppies and kittens. Puppies and kittens tend to like to play non-stop until they pass out from exhaustion, only to be awake and ready to go for another round of play twenty minutes later. Older cats and dogs are much more content relaxing with you on your lap or beside you on the couch. Of course, many enjoy the occasional playtime, but because they have less energy, they get tired much quicker. They are also already used to a human’s schedule, and shouldn’t bother you during the night for food, playtime or bathroom breaks. Because you don’t have to spend most of your time chasing around and cleaning up after your new pet, you will have more time to spend time cuddling, relaxing or having fun with them!
4. Many people view senior pets in shelters and rescues as “problem pets”. They assume because a previous family gave them up, they must have something wrong with them, like behavioural issues, an unfavourable personality, or expensive medical conditions. This is rarely the case! Most senior pets available for adoption were surrendered for reasons completely unrelated to them specifically, such as the owners moving, a new baby in the family, the death of an owner, or the owner not having enough free time to give the pet the attention they need. They are usually sweet animals that need love, a home, and a family just as much as a puppy or kitten would.
5. Adopting a senior pet is a gift in itself. You can take comfort in knowing you are truly saving this animal’s life. Puppies and kittens are always the first to get adopted, while senior pets have a much smaller chance at finding a forever family. By adopting an older animal, you are giving them a family and a loving home to live out their remaining years happily. That is the most important reason of all that you should consider the older animals next time you are looking for a new family friend.
Written by Stephanie, RVT