Adopt a Senior Pet

Nov 16, 2013

Ivy, age 17, at the beach
Credit Mindy Norton

Some folks may be hesitant to adopt an older pet, but the advantages usually outweigh the disadvantages.  Often the adoption fee is reduced for senior pets, making them a smart choice for adoption.  In return, the human gets a healthy, loving pet, a companion and a new best friend!


Animal shelters and rescue groups know that of all the animals waiting to be adopted into new homes, the hardest to place are not the ones with medical needs or behavior problems. The ones least likely to find a home are the older dogs and cats, the “senior” pets.

After all, those puppies and kittens are so cute and fluffy, and so full of energy. The older animals may have had a home before; the shelter environment is foreign to them, so they are less likely to be playing and having fun as you pass by their cage.

I can tell you from personal experience that older pets are the best. Our terrier “Ivy” lived to be 19 years old, and our cat “Blackie” was over 20. From them we learned that having a senior pet around is a great experience.

They are more inclined to snuggle and just relax with you. They tend to be calmer and easier to train. They seem to appreciate being given a second chance to be a great pet. They adapt quickly to their new family, especially if you take the time to make them feel welcome and secure. And remember those playful kittens and puppies with all that energy? They are going to need a lot more monitoring to keep them out of trouble. Older dogs and cats – not nearly so much.

Another advantage when adopting a senior pet is that you know what you’re getting. You don’t have to wonder how big that animal will be when it is full-grown – what you see is what you get. Often they are already house-broken, although they may need a little refresher course after spending time in a shelter. But house-training an older animal is made easier by the fact that they are more developed mentally and physically. Their personality is also fully developed, so you can determine right away if it’s compatible with you and your lifestyle.

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, a great time to visit your local shelter or rescue group to find a loving dog or cat to share your home and your heart. And because older animals are less likely to be adopted, they are more likely to be euthanized. So when you adopt one, you really are saving a life, when you’re speaking of pets.