November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, which highlights the many benefits that a senior pet can bring to your family. Many senior cats and dogs are overlooked in animal shelters, because people often choose to adopt younger pets. If you are planning to adopt a pet, keep an open mind. Senior pets often end up in the shelter through no fault of their own, yet they make wonderful, devoted companions. 

Before setting your sights on a puppy or kitten, see why senior pets can make incredible furry family members. Here are five benefits of adopting a senior pet.

#1: Senior pets are usually less demanding than puppies and kittens

If you haven’t had a puppy or a kitten in a while, you may have forgotten how much time, energy, and attention they demand, whereas senior pets are generally low-key. Older pets with mellow personalities are ideal for busy households with children, provided the kids know they must interact gently with senior pets. 

Rather than finding yourself unprepared for a young pet’s energy and many needs, consider a slower-moving senior pet. With fewer time and energy demands, senior pets suit most living situations well, including apartments and hectic lifestyles. If you’re looking for a low-energy pet, an older pet may be perfect—you can relax with your new senior pet by your side, or on your lap, rather than chasing and training a mischievous puppy or kitten.

#2: Senior pets are typically already housetrained

Bringing home a new puppy or kitten is a joyous occasion, albeit with some downfalls—namely, housetraining. Teaching your young pet how to eliminate appropriately can be a frustrating challenge, and can make forming a strong bond early on difficult. Senior pets, on the other hand, typically already understand about appropriate elimination spots, and will quickly catch on once they settle into their new home.  

#3: Senior pets generally know commands and household rules

Senior pets are more likely to have already gone through obedience training and house training. Instead of spending time and effort training a young pet, you could bring home a cat who knows how to use the litter box correctly, or a dog who understands verbal commands. Senior pets also generally understand common household rules, and are seldom destructive. An older cat likely knows that the scratching post is the only acceptable place to sharpen their claws, while a senior dog understands that stinky socks and shoes are not meant for chewing. Rather than needing to closely monitor young pets for destructive behavior, you can simply relax and enjoy your senior pet’s company. 

#4: Adopted senior pets are grateful for your kindness

Somehow, senior pets seem to know you gave them a second chance. Because of this commonly seen sixth sense, many new owners rapidly bond closely with their senior pet. The level of love, attention, and devotion exhibited by adopted senior pets is often unmatched, and provides the foundation for a wonderful relationship.

#5: You know what you’re getting with a senior pet

All too often, people are startled by their young pet’s adult size or temperament. That adorable tiny puppy may have grown to the size of a small pony, or that snuggly pup turned into a fine example of their herding ancestors. Instead of falling for a cute face and playful personality, carefully consider how that pet will look and act as an adult. Determine if you have the space, finances, and energy to devote to an adult version of that tiny kitten or puppy, or consider a senior pet instead. They are fully grown, so you know exactly what you are getting in terms of size and temperament. Their personality and characteristics are already developed, and you won’t have to worry about your puppy becoming too large for your studio apartment, or your friendly kitten growing into an aloof adult cat. 

Although senior pets make delightful companions and still have plenty of love and life left, they may develop age-related health issues and require referral by your family veterinarian. If you have adopted a new senior pet for all the reasons above, they may benefit from the expertise of an internal medicine or oncology specialist, so ask your primary care veterinarian for a referral to our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center. Contact our team with any questions at all about your special pet.