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Pet Adoption and Old People

A few days ago, TGB reader Trudy Kappel emailed about elders and pets:

I am the same age as you and my beloved and aged cat died a few weeks ago,” wrote Trudy.

“Right now it is much too soon for me to adopt another one but I wonder if it is really too late. My most recent cats lived between 18 and 20 years. I think it is unlikely that I will live that long and worry about what would happen to kitty when I'm not able to care for her.

“My friends remind me of the benefits of pet ownership (not clear who owns who) and that 'The only reason Grandpa got out of bed was to care for Fluffy.' I'm not there yet but it could happen.”

I “think” I wrote about adopting senior pets in the past but if I'm right (I didn't check) it was long enough ago that it's worth a second go.

Puppy-and-Kitten

During the months I spent recovering from my surgery for pancreatic cancer and the followup chemotherapy, I thought a lot of about Ollie the cat (he is 13 years old) and what would happen to him if I died. He's not the friendliest fellow you ever met and a scaredy-cat too about anything new so that might be a stumbling block for adoption by a friend or stranger.

At other times I have wondered about adopting another cat if Ollie dies before I do. I've always had a cat and it wouldn't feel like home without one. But during that surgery recovery, I learned a bit about what the difficulties might be having a pet as we grow older.

For two months following the surgery, I was not allowed to bend over or twist my body. That made feeding Ollie and keeping his litter box clean a difficult endeavor. Fortunately, I have a wonderful neighbor who helped out every day.

But there are a lot of less deadly afflictions that could make it difficult or prevent an old person from the daily care of a cat or walking a dog and cleaning up behind him/her.

In addition, one of the hard parts of being old is that even if you are physically capable now, anything could happen tomorrow (and does from time to time) to change that. There is no way to know.

On the other hand, there are many positives to having a pet: companionship, stress relief, entertainment, unconditional love, and the sense of wellbeing that comes from being responsible for another living being.

So in addition to one's age, there is one's health to consider in adopting a new pet along with arrangements for a new home should we die.

Like a lot of other things in life, age and health are a crap shoot – mostly we don't know beforehand how healthy we are going to remain and how long we will live. If it's important enough to us, sometimes we just have to close our eyes and take the leap. I don't have a better solution.

One solution to the third question, however, is adopting an old pet. In doing so, you are probably saving a life because most people want kittens or puppies so abandoned elder pets are often euthanized.

In addition, older pets are calmer than kittens and puppies (they probably won't climb the curtains or tear up the sofa), and their personalities are set so you know what you're getting.

Old pets may also be less expensive to adopt – they have had the vaccinations that don't need repeating and reputable adoption services will know about any medical problems.

Speaking of that, there appear to be organizations that provide financial aid to pet owners in need of such assistance. The Humane Society has a list on their website.

There are other national (U.S.) websites to help with local pet adoption. Here are two:

Pets For the Elderly is a non-profit organization that promotes adoption of older pets and can help pay veterinarian costs if they are part of the adoption fee. There is a list of participating shelters alphabetically by state here.

Petfinder is another elder pet locator. Follow that link and then click “Find a Pet” at the top of the page. On the next page, when you enter your location and choose from other criteria (dog, cat, breed, gender, etc.), you will get a list of cats or dogs or other kinds of pets that are available for adoption.

Here are a couple of short videos about adopting an older dog or cat:

Do you have any experience with adopting an older pet?



Comments

Six years ago, when I was 72, I was told by the local animal shelter that their policy was not to adopt out a puppy or kitten to an older person. They would be happy to allow me to adopt an older pet. (They relented in my case because I had been a volunteer/foster mother and I was able to adopt a kitten. ). Gladys

Having been petless for a few years, now, I've concluded that the reason pets are good for people is the exercise it gives them in keeping the house livable. I couldn't believe how much household chores decreased when our last, beloved cat died. It isn't just taking care of the cat, but taking care of the dirt a cat can track into the house and spread about without its being obvious.

Since about 1975 all of my pets have been rescues from 14 weeks to around 10 years old. As I have gotten older, so have my rescues. The two dogs we have now are a Doberman we adopted a year ago who is about 10-11 years old and a Pomeranian mix adopted five years ago who is now, maybe, 11-13 years old. Last year our beloved Miss Rose died, we adopted her when she was about seven [for $25] and had her for eight years. We don't have any cats right now, but they have all been rescues...Our last one was rescued from my sister-in-law.

I trained two of our Dobies and showed them in obedience. There is nothing "wrong" with a rescue.

All of our older rescues have been wonderful, although many have needed some medical care. Having a fenced yard certainly helps, although we try to also walk the dogs. They make me feel more secure and they are comforting.

Two years ago I advised a friend not to adopt a puppy...which she did. Since then, due to the owner's medical problems and travel, the dog has spent about half her life at our house sometimes for months at a time and when she is home they just hang around in her house. We are in her owner's will as her guardian and love her, but...this whole thing could have been avoided and an older animal saved.

Whenever anyone is thinking about getting a young pet I always ask "Where will you be in 15 years?" [BTW, that includes HS age kids getting ready to leave for college.]

Sorry this is so long, but I have shown dogs, worked in a private kennel, had private pet-sit clients, and started my writing career specializing in animals.

Pets! I had sworn never to get another one and just enjoy retirement free from that responsibility (years ago we had two dogs and three cats while the boys were growing up).

My issue is related to this post but sort of in reverse--we are adopting the smallish miniature labradoodle that our son brought home after a failed relationship. So, probably, down to Florida the dog will go with us joining in on apartment living (in "God's Waiting Room" :) . The dog is just shy of 2 years old and will probably live for another 10 to 12 years--what a pain! But, it is cute as a button, loves us and we have gotten sufficiently attached to it to make this bearable. I suppose pet ownership might enhance our longevity--I can only hope, looking at the bright side. However, should we tire of this "rescue effort", maybe we'll try to find an elder that really wants a cute little friendly fluff of a dog--or maybe one that wants to babysit the dog when we travel (money and health permitting--standard disclaimer at this age/stage of life).

John

When my sister was diagnosed with cancer, I and my border collie move up to her house to help her during her treatment. She had two schnauzers, and we all did pretty well for about a month and a half, but as the treatment started to take its toll it became harder and harder to care for my sister and for the dogs too. If not for a truely kind friend we might have had to find new homes for the dogs. She kept our dogs for four months and when they finally came home it was such a joy for my sister and me. After my sister died the dogs were a great source of comfort to me.

I used to wonder why people might have to give their pets away when they experienced some life altering event. Now I get it and am so grateful for the wonderful friend who kept our dogs.

My border collie died a year ago and the little schnauzers are now twelve and fourteen. If I die before they do they have a place to go, the same place they stayed when my sister was so ill. It's hard to think about getting more pets at my age, but I think the idea of an older pet would be a wonderful option.

Cats have always been in my life, and just because I am 83, it was an easy decision to adopt another rescue when it was time. So a 5 year old came home with me from the local, and wonderful SPCA some months ago. It was a good decision for both of us.

Now, I have made arrangements with a friend to adopt CoCo if/when necessary. CoCo will come with an inheritance. If that arrangement doesn't work out, my local SPCA will take him back and find a place for him.

Meanwhile it's a win, win situation for both of us.

My dogs have been rescues or retired working dogs (sled dogs). I look for older dogs, as I don't have much interest in having my furniture/belongings chewed, nor patience to deal with housebreaking. Senior pets are the best for me.

I had a significant illness a couple years ago which caused a month stay in the hospital, followed by a month in a nursing home. This caused a crisis, as I needed someone to look after my dogs. Luckily, a friend knew of a young man finishing college who was willing to stay in my house and take care of the dogs, for a weekly fee. I really don't know what we would have done without him.

I'm only 70 but I wanted to find an older dog for a few reasons and just two weeks ago I brought home a 9-year old Yorkie from the local pound. Evidently his previous owner had Zeke since a puppy but had to move in with her son and their dog didn't care for Zeke.
Their loss. My gain.

One reason I wanted an older dog is I didn't want to be running after a puppy and true to old people form Zeke likes to sleep a lot.
However I learned quickly to never ever let him off his leash. He runs like the wind.

He also came to me completely trained. So I was fortunate there.

I realize he may have some hefty medical bills in a few years but I am able to handle them if need be.

Overall, an older dog was the answer for me. I am now early to bed and early to rise. Ugh. But it is so good to have someone to love.

I thought I had planned for those surprise events that might affect my dear lab/border collie, Maggie. She is nearing 13 but in good health, and more than a few friends have volunteered to take her in, if something happens to me. I hadn’t thought about a bequest to go along with her, so thanks for that idea.

It may be more likely that she crosses the bridge ahead of me, in which case my home would become a cold and lonely place. But there is too much practicality on this page to add on that consideration, so I’ll just send my kind regards.

I always had a dog or cat growing-up through middle-age. I never considered veterinary care an impediment to having them. Now, however, it's different, not only because my budget is tighter but mostly because vets - like M.D.s - have become prohibitively expensive.

I have a friend whose cat needed some serious dental work. The cat's inability to chew threatened her survival. The cost of the work was three thousand dollars. She started a GoFundMe page to raise the money. She actually raised the money, however that is something I would never do.

I would not own a dog or cat today, nor would I have owned the ones I had in the past if vet fees then (adjusting backward for inflation) were what they are now. The vet told my friend that her choice was to fix the cat's mouth or put the cat to sleep. I know that many families today - not just seniors - are faced with that excrutiating decision. It's one I choose to avoid, because even the anxiety of having to face such a decision at some point hanging over my head would negate the advantages of having a pet

I appreciate and am moved by the love people feel for their cats and dogs ; I only wish that they could respect my situation. Asthma attacks brought on by cats are no joke. (Though I sometimes Do joke that my next of kin need not debate about "pulling the plug." All they need do is put a cat in my room, close the door, and let nature take its course.) Dogs and other animals arouse lesser symptoms but are severely uncomfortable to be in close contact with for any period of time. So...when an individual carrying one sits beside or close to me on a bus, train, or plane, I politely request a change of seat. More often than not, I am met with resistance and anger. The same holds true when I am invited to a meeting or social affair at the home of someone I don't know and ask if, by any chance, there is an animal on the premises. Pet owners - please understand. I am not insulting you or your beloved cat, dog, rabbit, guinea pig. Love them all you wish - just keep them away from me. Ann


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I have a 15-year-old cat and a 9-year-old dog and have given a lot of thought to the sort of things mentioned above. The dog is a golden/lab mix who really needs my little yard, so I'm sort of locked into this house for now. I'd really like to be in a patio home or condo where someone else handles all the exterior maintenance. She's a rescue, and the organization I got her from insisted on an agreement whereby if I ever couldn't keep her, she'd go back to them. That's very reassuring, although I'm pretty sure my son's family would take her in. They'd probably take in the cat too, or bend over backwards to find a good place for him. We're all insane animal lovers. I don't think I'll get another dog that needs a yard, but I can't imagine not having a cat. Something about having another beating heart in the house ...

I did not have pets while I was growing up nor during most of my adult years. I finally was able to adopt the most wonderful cat, but sadly she became ill after 10 years and she died. Then I adopted my next cat; a wild and lovable but shy boy. He is 7 now, and I hope to have him for many more years.

Now the expense part: I was able to work quite a while after "retirement", but my health has become a primary issue. If not working, my income is limited to Social Security. This makes it difficult to support me and my cat. Food, cat litter, and vet costs make having a pet difficult, if not impossible, for many like myself. This saddens me, as there are so many lovely animals euthanized in our country. If only we could find a better way to help these animals and ourselves.

Did you know that some assisted living facilities now allow residents to have one small pet? This is a recent development in the two facilities I've looked into in my area; five years ago NO place allowed pets. Now they do, as long as the resident is able to care for the pet. Although in reading reviews by residents, some say that staff also helps with pets in case the owner is unable for a short time. Interesting.

I have had up to six cats at one time -- and had a special outdoor/indoor screened porch for them to lounge around in. As they aged and died, I didn't replace them. However, I do have two small dogs, one nearing 13 and the other 5 years old. Also had a dachshund that died a few years ago. The 13 year old dog was a rescue from the local animal shelter; got him six months after late husband died, and he's been a wonderful solace, as well as a good guard dog (large fenced yard with doggie door to inside). I've often joked it's better to get a good dog than another husband if you are a widow (LOL).

I also realize the amount of work and attention any pet requires, but I think it is worth the effort - as long as one is capable. I've always said if the day comes I cannot care for a pet, or hire necessary help, then I will forego the pleasure so as not to be unfair to the pet. I sincerely hope I'm lucky enough to have either a dog or cat the rest of my life, because pets have been an important of my life throughout the years. I would certainly choose an older pet, and in fact the two dogs I have now were both over a year old when I got them. Far easier not to endure the puppy year!

When I saw Ann Burack-Weiss's post I breathed a little sigh of recognition. I would love to have a pet but animal (dander) hair can be a life threatening event for me too. I have dear friends I cannot visit, it has to be lunch or coffee somewhere. One still thinks I'm just being a poop about it. My grandkids have to be sure to wear clothes that are washed of cat and horse residue before they come over. Rest assured though if I could have a cat I would in heart beat. Not fair? Well as my kids like to say "fair only comes around here over Labor Day."

When my daughter moved in with me she came with her daughter's pets that she had been caring for. One, a German Shepherd dog was not a good fit for me. He destroyed my love seat by digging a hole in the cushion and the cat shredded the corners by sharpening his claws on them. The dog damaged a vertical by leaping at it and his nail cut a gash in the slat. He knocked a shelf off the wall and did other minor damage. I did love him when he came to me with his big brown eyes begging for attention, but I am not sorry he is gone.

He was too big for my Town house and needed more yard than I had. But I put up with him because it would be too painful for my daughter to get rid of him - especially after spending $1,000 on surgery for him. My granddaughter recently moved from CA to AZ and has taken her dog to live with her. My daughter also moved in with her and they will take the cat eventually.

I love dogs and have always had one until I had to give my last dog away due to travel and the time he would have to spend in a Kennel. I did not want to do that to him. I cried when the nice couple took him and missed him for a long time.

However, I do not miss the German Shepherd as he caused me problems when someone came to the door. They were afraid of him and he did not know when to stop being my guardian and stop barking and baring his teeth. The Firemen who get me up after a fall told me they would not come again if the dog was still here. Friends worried that he would knock me down when he got excited. He is an old dog and not a puppy, but needed training that he did not get.

When they take the cat I know he will be unhappy, because he has a routine with me and spends a lot of time on my lap. I guess he is supposed to be good for me by lowering my blood pressure, but I am not sure if that benefit offsets the fact that I cannot type or do much reading on the Internet when he is in my lap because he demands constant scratching and petting and I am a softy and give in. I can't care for him, but that is not an issue because my daughter sees to his litter box and food when she stops by. I know I will miss him, but not as much as I might have 10 or 20 years ago.

Both animals are old and I am posting this to give my experience as an ancient having pets. Good if you are not alone with them and there are others to see to their needs, but not so much if you have to get up and let them out and care for them. I just think that elders should be aware of some problems that might occur by adopting a pet late in life.

I am sorry if this is upsetting to all you animal lovers.

I love my cats who are almost 4 years old. Our last cats were 16 and 14 when they died and we waited a whole year to get replacements, so to speak. I missed them so much but with husband recovering from quad bypass it took awhile to get him independent again. My neighbor and I trade off cat care whenever each of us wants to travel.

Yes, I vacuum up a ton of dirt and cat hair every week but they sleep in the garage at night, and go in and out the cat door all day, sleeping a lot on our (old) furniture.

I wanted to get 2 older cats but my husband wanted kittens if we had to have 2...don't ask me why, so we compromised and got 2 kittens - sort of rescues from my son's practice as a veterinarian. They are sisters and one is cuddly, I call her my "therapy cat", and one is more independent.

It is so nice to have had a reduced rate for vet services for the past years 24 years, and now he refuses to charge me at all. Our last cat developed diabetes and had to have insulin injections twice a day and special cat food for three years before he died. I can appreciate the concerns of older people on a fixed income - but my son had to repay hefty student loans for his vet school education. He was able to work his way through Junior college, and his undergrad work, but not vet school. I am lucky to have him.

We recently re-did our family trust and the attorney included a page for pet care instructions if we die before our cats which will ease our minds. We both love our cats and, at 77 and 78, we can use all the benefits they bring us. At least, if one of us cannot be here or clean up after them, the other one can.

My darling cat is on her last legs, and my small dog, who may live ten or eleven more years has god parents. Much as I hate the thought of possibly being without an animal to love, I sometimes wonder if I would be so loving and patient with an animal who didn't have a long (15) year history with me. Sweet kitty Gardenia squalls for everything whenever she isn't sleeping, (sometimes I turn off my hearing aids) requires meds and multiple small feedings, and has become totally enamored of her kitty litter box. And curls her bony little body on my chest as I read, purring and patting my chin.

Morty is the same age as Ollie! Nice to know that.

When he goes (I don't think he is the long surviving type) I am pretty sure we'll get a successor, unless severely disabled. I'm 70 now -- who knows where I'll be in a few years.

I've often wondered whether Ursula LeGuin's Pard outlived her ... anyone know?

We also took the pledge to have no more pets after our last dog went to the Rainbow Bidge. After about a year, though, we started to miss having a dog in the house with us and we began toying with the idea of a dog of some kind. We finally hit on the idea of fostering instead of 'owning.' We contacted our local humane society and put our name on a volunteer list. We were able to stipulate small senior lap dogs, and fostered a succession of dogs that met our criteria. We had the freedom to stop fostering at any time. It was a great experience, one that I'd recommend for anyone thinking of getting a dog. Oh, and our last foster dog is still with us, a "failed foster." We couldn't help ourselves"

I've always had cats and can't imagine a cat-less existence. We currently have 3 senior rescue cats (apx. ages 2 = 17+, and 1 = 12); they are 2 "lucky" black cats and a B&W tuxedo. Caring for them isn't as easy as it once was, but my husband (88) and I (81) are managing. (The new cat litter that slides out of the litterbox more easily helps.) I SO agree that veterinary costs have gone up precipitously, but we've been able to meet them so far, although not always as easily as during our working years.

We've tried to plan for our cats if they outlive us since no family members are able to take them. They are enrolled in the local Humane Society's Guardian Program, which will place them in an adoptive or foster home. If they need 24-hour vet care, they will be assured care in the organization's new, state-of-the-art shelter. (There was a one-time donation/ fee involved.)

If we outlive our kitties, would we adopt again? If at least one of us is still able to care for one or more cats, definitely YES, although we might opt to foster. I volunteer for a cat rescue/rehoming agency that specializes in placing older and special-needs cats. I can state from experience that it is harder to place older cats, especially those 11+ Y/O.

I think we do a pretty good job, but it's hard when a kitty loses a lifelong cat-parent and home for whatever reason. Because most cats don't do well with change, they may not "show" well which further complicates the rehoming process. I totally agree that senior cats can be wonderful pets for elders especially.


I learned at an early age the pain of loss having circumstances arise requiring my parents to give away the puppy I had trained to young adulthood. A year later I was able to have a promised visit with him. He remembered me well and with affection, but his new owners description of some of my dog’s behaviors, including a cautionary tale he might sneak up and bite me from behind (which he didn’t do), told me in this new home he was subjected to abuse in the name of discipline as they trained him to herd cattle. I’ve had numerous dogs and cats since, some raised from birth, but none with whom I’ve felt the same degree of attachment. I still feel that loss of so many years ago.

My last pet, after our cat that had moved around the country with us died of old age, was a dog — a 10 mo. old rescue from the pound and a disaster. She was prim, quiet and quite the lady in the noisy yappy dog pound atmosphere completely bamboozling us. Once she was home we saw quite different behaviors. It was clear she needed lots of love as I explained to our children which is why I didn’t return her which I should have done. But it was too late then, as what lesson would that teach my kids I reasoned — if we loved her.

Discovered she chewed up my long scrimped for expensive new drapes initially, was so needy for attention, was jealous, neurotic, must have been babied and spoiled rotten by previous owners, seemed to require more continuous training than I desired and not enough love ever for her. There were more events, though not destructive, with her, but we kept her many years until a cancerous tumor of such severity was discovered that finally necessitated having to put her to sleep.

Especially after my husband died I weighed in my mind the pros and cons of having a pet, preferring a dog, but not wanting having to clean up the yard after one any more than I wanted to mess with a litter box and loving cat. Making spontaneous trips would be challenging and I wouldn’t welcome the expense of boarding my pet. I think pets are not meant to be taken everywhere their owners go and am not about to subject others I care for to that for some of the health, but other consideration reasons as well.

Pets on planes in the passenger seating are not welcomed by me and I wouldn’t want to subject a creature I cared for to drugs and/or the luggage hold. Service animals and their owners might best be relegated to a special seating area apart from others when they travel.

Was often sad to me to hear elders in long term care lament having had to give ups their pets. A few were lucky to have their pet brought for a visit. Taking on an older pet could well mean there might be more medical expense with the aging animal if its anything like our neutered male cat we had from his birth til old age in his upper teens. He had urinary tract problems we were told was common. My husband and I used to joke we spent more for his medical care than our children ever required.

I adopted two sibling female cats when they were 12 (I was 46 at the time). They were wonderful cats and, even though they passed many years ago, we talk about them still. They were both so lovable, and we were glad to give them the best for the seven years they were with us.

When the last sister died, I was volunteering at an animal shelter (by this point in the story, I'm age 53). I sadly decided that if cats live to age 20, as several of mine have done, that I might well not be around just when they would need me most. So, no more cats.

I'm now nearly 70. Wish I'd spent that time with more senior cats. I now feel I was "practical" and "sensible" to a fault.

I'm a lifelong cat lover and cat guardian, and I've also volunteered with the cats at our local humane society. I agree with Ronni's post about seniors adopting senior pets in concept. From my personal experience I'd have to add that senior pets are more likely to have health issues and veterinary care is SO expensive...I'd caution potential senior adopters to think with both their heads and their hearts before adopting any pet. As another reader pointed out, there is also the extra housekeeping required as a pet guardian. I cannot imagine life without cats, but at the same time, I have chronic pain issues, can no longer really work, so my income and cash flow is stretched. I tell myself that after my beloved 11 year old kitty passes, I won't be getting another pet. That's not for lack of understanding the benefits which are many, but to reduce my expenses and my housekeeping chores, out of necessity. If money were no object (for vet care and a housekeeper) I would definitely include cats in my aging journey.

Dear Ronni, this is something I've thought about a lot. I've lived with cats since 1972 when Dulcy came to befriend me. Since then there have always been two to four cats sharing the house with me. Now, Ellie is 12 and Maggie is 10 1/2 and Matthew is 10. So they are getting up there. Most of the cats with whom I've lived died when they were around 17, but Elisa Doolittle lived to be a few months over 20.

I'll be 82 in a month and so the question of living with cats when these three are gone has come many times. I've decided to adopt two older cats with whom I'd hope to spend the remainder of my days. If all goes well, the three cats with whom I now live have several more years to live. So maybe we will celebrate my 90th birthday together! Peace.

On a friend's 90th birthday we offered to take her dog if anything happened to her. She cried with gratitude. She is now 95 and has lived in an assisted living center with her dog for most of that time. When she has health issues, her nearby neighbors take care of her dog along with their own dog. We remind her that whenever she feels ready, we are here. I only hope that if we should be in her place, we will have people who will step up for us. My biggest end of life fear is to be unable to have a furry friend sharing my space.

As for the allergy sufferers, why can't people see their allergy the same way we understand peanut allergies. It isn't a choice, and I am so thankful it wasn't my fate.

Thanks, Ronni. The issue of having pets as an old person is something my wife and I have discussed several times. We currently have a rescue cat that we got as a kitten 4 years ago. Turns out he was already an outdoor cat at 4 months of age before we got him. He is a healthy, wonderful boy and we love him. He wakes me every morning to let him out: 6:40 am today, so no sleeping in for Jim! I had never thought about adopting an older pet. Because our guy is not likely to live to an old age, we might likely be faced with the decision of whether to adopt again or not. I was firmly in the “no” camp, but now I’m not so sure. I know our house felt so empty before we got Thomas; I wonder what it will be like the next time, which I am not looking forward to. I have enough to fret about concerning age and health issues, so I am going to forestall further kitty thoughts and just enjoy sharing each day with our fur child.

I am 63 and have a 16 year old cat. I've never had a cat live past 13 before and Maude will probably be the last pet I own. I love animals and have since childhood but my last cat had a lot of vet bills. Luckily Maude is in good health but her yearly physical and teeth cleaning cost close to a $1000. I like to travel and go out of town 2 or 3 Xs a year for short trips. I hire a cat sitter to feed Maude and clean her litter box. I would like to take longer trips without having to worry about her. So, no, I don't think I'll have any more pets after Maude. I may foster or I may volunteer at a shelter.

I am now 78 years old. 3 years ago I had to let my 14-year-old dog go to heaven and I missed him terribly. I have an old cat (she is now 18 years old) who refused to accept another cat or younger dog into her life and, therefore into mine.

Last year my daughter found an 8 year old rescue dog who completely ignored cats. He had been returned twice to the shelter and was thought unadoptable. I brought him home and, after an adjustment period, he and the cat became good friends.

He is now 9 and still has some habits that may be unacceptable to some people but he makes me laugh, gives my old cat a run for her money, and will continue to be a joy for as long as we have each other to play with and sleep with. I’m very lucky to have found an older dog who was accepted by my even older cat and now we three old buddies spend our days and nights sleeping, eating, taking walks and sleeping. Old bodies make good old buddies.

Several years ago while volunteering for the Humane Society I was introduced to a 25 year old cat named Mama Kitty. She was in a cage by herself as she didn't get along with the younger kittens. I was told she had been there a long time and would probably not be adopted due to her age. I had two dogs at the time, but decided to adopt her. She was the funniest cat I have owned. She would lay spread over the back of the sofa for hours on end. When she tired of that she would wrestle with the dog. Luckily for him she had been declawed. They had such fun together. She only lasted a year, but I think she enjoyed her final year in a happy home doing what she wanted to do. More people should consider older pets. They make great companions.

Annie,
I'm so glad you took a chance on Mama Kitty--she was indeed a very senior cat at 25. She got to live out her last year in a loving home. Shelters, as essential and wonderful as they are, can rarely substitute for a caring cat parent. If our 3 elder kitties predecease us and we're still physically able, we will probably adopt again--or foster--a senior or special-needs cat. They are the BEST.

I have always had a dog or dogs and when a marriage break-up left my dogs with my ex because my apt. complex only allowed dogs under 20 lbs., I was extremely sad. Our city has a rescue society that has a wonderful group of people who foster animals before they are adopted. My first elder dog lived only 18 months, but I loved him every minute.

I kept in touch with his foster mom and I heard from her a few months after "Gismo" died. She had a 14 pound poodle that she thought would be a good match.

She was spot-on. He Had severe separation anxiety for the first 2 years (if I left him alone for any time at all, he had nightmares and would wake me up screaming.) He rarely has nightmares now even when he has been left for 2 hours.

The best thing about him is that when I turn off the alarm and roll over for 40 more winks, he rolls over too.

Senior Dogs for Senior People!

To possibly complete this thread. It was my email that Ronni quoted at the beginning of her post. I valued all your comments both pro and con.

Yesterday I adopted a six year old orange tabby... named Penny. Right now she is learning about her new home. OK on the bed? yes! Playing the piano? DEFINITELY NO!

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