10 Top Advantages of Adopting A Senior Pet

Much like fine wine, pets age well. The bouncing out-of-control puppy, the sometimes fractious adolescent, and the highly energetic adult give way to a sweet and mellow kind of dignity by the time a pet turns eight years of age or so.

If you’re thinking about welcoming a senior pet into your home for the first time, here are several reasons why adopting a senior pet offers plenty of advantages over adopting his younger counterpart.

At the top of the list of dogs and cats languishing in shelters across the U.S. are older animals. It makes me terribly sad to know these poor animals are frightened, disoriented, and waiting anxiously in their kennels for their families to come back and collect them.

And it's sadder still to know many of these pets will never leave the shelter... unless more adoptive families are willing to give them a second look.

This is perhaps the most heartbreaking situation of all.

Older pets who have lived their whole lives with their owner or family are relinquished to shelters for any number of reasons – ill health, incontinence or another condition of old age, or perhaps the pet's owner has passed away and the family doesn't want to care for the dog or cat left behind.

Adoptive parents tend to shy away from older pets. They're not as cute as puppies or kittens. They may develop serious, expensive health problems. Sitting in their cages, they don't seem as perky or eager to please as younger animals.

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Also, many people who come to shelters looking for a new pet have recently lost one, and the thought of losing another beloved companion to old age within a few years is just too much to bear.

Tragically, many older pets live out the remainder of their lives in shelters, or are euthanized to make room for more adoptable animals. This is no way for a once cherished pet to live, or to die.

If you're thinking about adopting a shelter pet, an older dog or cat just might be exactly what you're looking for, so I encourage you to keep an open mind.

Below Are The Top 10 Reasons To Adopt A Senior Pet

Older dogs do need to potty more often than their younger colleagues do—but at least they know that they’re supposed to do their business only at certain times and places. By adopting a senior dog, you’re bypassing the tedium of house training.


The mature dog has probably lived for many years in one or more human homes, so he knows that he’s not supposed to get into your stuff. In other words, you need not fear coming home to find that your dog has trashed your home in a fit of boredom, loneliness, or panic.

Puppies—even purebred puppies—are a little bit of a mystery as are cats. A person can’t know for sure if that little cat or dog butterball will grow up to be undersized, over sized, light in color, or darker in color. (Coat colors can vary widely even within a litter)

A dog or cats temperament is not always predictable either; the puppy and kitty who was a shy little darling may grow up to be Mr. Hell on Wheels, especially if he doesn't have appropriate training.

senior pet is exactly who he appears to be, which means that you don’t need to worry about unwelcome surprises.


Even if he hasn't had all that much training, a senior isn't likely to indulge in very many antics, if any. He’s too dignified to jump up on people, and counter-surfing may be too much of an effort for him.


Adolescent and young adult pets certainly love their people, but they have additional priorities. After all, there’s a whole world out there for them to explore! Consequently, if you let a younger dog off leash in an unprotected area, that dog may decide to take off on an exploratory expedition.

Youthful dogs and cats are surprisingly speedy—they have no problem outrunning their humans.

However, the older pet not only doesn't possess such speed, but he isn't at all unhappy about it. He’s no longer beset with wanderlust; his idea of a good time is to hang out with you.


The counter-surfing, garbage-raiding, paper-shredding, sock-stealing or young adult puppy or kitten is a total hoot—but boy, he’ll keep you busy dealing with such antics. The senior pet is way beyond such mischief; it’s beneath his dignity—and the more dignity he has, the more rest you get.


Although an older dog or cat will tend to stick closer to you than a youngster will, that doesn't mean that the oldster is a pest. As long as he knows where you are, he’ll be cool with whatever you’re doing. If, for example, you’re playing around on your computer, a senior will be perfectly happy just taking a snooze at your side.

Such discretion can be a welcome alternative to dealing with a puppy who relentlessly tries to get you to play, gets himself into trouble when you won’t play, or just can’t settle down while you update your Facebook or Twitter page.


Adolescent and young adult dogs and cats don’t always appear to hear what you’re asking them to do. They may be guilty of a kind of selective deafness: They don’t seem to hear you tell them to get off the couch or to come when called, but they magically appear before you if they hear words like “cookie” or “treat.”

With seniors, such hijinks are a thing of the past. They’re happy to hang onto your every word and, if possible, do what you've asked. If a senior dog or cat appears not to hear what you’re saying, the reason may be real deafness, not the selective kind.

Puppies and kittens and young adults are the cutest, most infectious beings to grace the planet, hands down. That said, their cuteness doesn't always extend to being affectionate. Instead, they entertain us with their playful behavior and their unabashed joie de vivre.

They are too busy enjoying life in general to pay a whole lot of attention to you in particular (although spending time training and socializing a young pet can help change that). But a senior is different—especially if you've adopted him as a senior from a Shelter or Rescue Group. He knows how good his life is with you.

He’s grateful for cuddle time, an extra treat, and—most of all—extra attention. Many adopters of rescued or shelter pets strongly believe that their dogs and cats know how fortunate they are and that they greatly appreciate the second chance at happiness that their adopters have given them.


Milan Kundera wrote “Dogs and cats are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace.”

Crazy, active youngsters certainly contribute to the glory of an afternoon; there are few things more beautiful than seeing a dog run with the afternoon sun shining on his coat.

But real peace and joy come from sitting down in that afternoon sun with a senior pet. The older dog and cat is much more likely to settle down enough to enjoy that activity (or more accurately, inactivity) than his younger counterpart is.

A cat is considered to be a senior when they are 8 to 10 years of age.
Cats over 12 years of age are considered geriatric.
A Cats Age Chart as Compared to Humans

Generally, smaller dogs live longer than the large breeds.
Animals can be adopted from the Humane Society, SPCA, adopted from an Animal Rescue Group or rescued off the street, their contribution to the household they are in, is invaluable.

Sources: ASPCA - Petfinders - Dr. Mercola - Huffington Post