News & Thoughts > Pet rescue > November is Adopt-a-Senior Pet Month!

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11/21/2011 09:23:18 AM by HAFowler   Send Message to HAFowler  2860  views, category: Pet rescue view all blogs


In November, shelters and adoption organizations across the country are educating and advocating for the pets most often overlooked when families are seeking a furry or feathered new member: senior pets. Kittens and puppies are always first to find forever homes – everybody loves a cute, fuzzy baby. Unfortunately that means that there are many wonderful older pets left behind.

A senior pet is generally defined as one seven years of age or older, although it differs by species and size. Smaller dogs are considered seniors later in life than larger dogs, and cats generally later than both, as they tend to live longer overall. Unfortunately, pets become difficult to adopt out at as early as three to five years old, and so many listing sites make special senior pleas for four legged friends that age or older.

People often hesitate to adopt senior pets because they are afraid of possible health problems and the cost of caring for them, but more, they are also reluctant to take a senior pet home because they think they will become attached, only to have their new friend pass away.

While our time with senior pets may be shorter than what we might enjoy raising a kitten or pup from youth, this fact does nothing to diminish the richness of the relationship we can develop with an older pet. There are a number of special characteristics that senior pets possess that make them unique companions.

* Most older pets have had some form of training, both in proper house etiquette and obedience training in the case of dogs.

* They understand “no,” and the boundaries of living with humans, such as what is appropriate to chew or scratch.

* They are already well-socialized, and have an easier time adjusting to new humans and other animals. They tend to be calmer and more patient with situations that might be upsetting for a young puppy or kitten.

* You can absolutely teach an old pet new tricks! In fact, an older pet has more patience and ability to control their impulses, making them easier to train. Yes, even cats!

* Older pets seem to have a greater appreciation for the affection of their people, and work harder to please as a result.

* Senior pets are “instant companions,” already prepared and trained to accompany you wherever you go, or quick to learn if you are introducing them to something new. They also love to relax and snuggle with you.

* Full grown dogs and cats are as big as they’re going to get – you don’t have to guess! They are also a known commodity as far as behavior is concerned. Although they may have issues while in the shelter or when first introduced to a new home, they settle in quickly.

* Older pets are more likely to be satisfied just relaxing in your presence, rather than getting into trouble because they’re bored and restless.

It is especially important to support finding forever homes for senior pets, as they are the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized in shelters. Saving a life that may not have been entirely happy is a noble thing, in addition to all the plusses of being the person of a senior animal. With tender love and care, we can share years with our senior friend, and help them have a happy and loving end-of-life experience. For more information on how you can help senior pets find forever homes, visit the Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month home at

About the author: I'm a freelance writer and novelist from the very far reaches of Upstate New York. I've had pets all of my life, and can't bear a household that isn't full of furry life. Besides my extremely spoiled pair of cats, I also love writing, reading, tra... more >>

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