Many dogs go gray in the face as they get older. Cats, on the other hand, tend to maintain their youthful color and often do not show their age until they are quite old. Even so, senior dogs and even senior cats need extra attention and care to make sure they (and you) can enjoy their later years!
November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month. So the question is, what exactly is a “senior” pet? The easy answer is that a senior pet is a pet that’s old, but the definition of “old” can vary from pet to pet and especially from species to species.
For example, a cat is considered elderly at around 11 years old. The “senior” designation applies to cats that are 11 – 14 years old. Felines age 15 or older are considered “super-senior”. To equate it to human age, after the first two years, a cat is equivalent to a 24-year-old human. For every year after that, add four years. So that elderly 11-year-old cat’s age would be equivalent to a 60-year-old human. I had one cat that lived to be almost 20, so in human years his age was 96.
For dogs, it gets more complicated because the larger the dog is, the faster it ages. The old 7-to-1 ratio may work for some dogs, but the truth is that smaller dogs tend to live longer. I saw one chart that listed four categories of dogs to determine their human age equivalent. A 7-year-old dog that weighs 20 pounds or less would be age 44 in human years. If that same dog weighs more than 50 pounds, its human age rises to 50. And if it weighs more than 90 pounds? It would be about 56 in human years.
This year has been a tough one for older pets, because during the pandemic some owners have struggled with finances or housing, and had to make the difficult decision to surrender their best friends to animal shelters in hopes they will find a new home and another loving owner. But the sad truth is, senior animals are often the last to be adopted.
Consider opening your home, and your heart, to a senior pet at your local shelter. Many are already house-trained and would be grateful for the chance to show what great family members and companions they can be, when you’re speaking of pets.