Focus on Seniors

Never Too Old to Own a Pet

If you're worried about owning a pet because you might outlive it, make arrangements in advance.
Matilda Charles, September 2017

One of the saddest things I’ve overheard lately was a woman who’d just lost her very senior cat. She’d loved that cat for years and would have made a great owner for another cat from the local shelter. But the woman hesitated, afraid she would die before the cat did, and then the cat would go to the shelter and possibly be put down.

I hope there aren’t many of us who feel that way. Shelters are full of cats and dogs that need love, and seniors can be the best pet owners around.

Consider what owning a cat or dog can do for you. If you have a dog, it would need to be walked at least once a day. That’s exercise, and often it can lead to more social interaction as you meet up with others doing the same thing. Maybe a daily pet-walking group can develop in the neighborhood.

Any pet needs regular meals and water, and maybe even medication if you adopt one with special needs. That keeps you on track with a daily schedule. Cats and dogs can be comical, making us laugh, and just having a pet around is shown to reduce stress. Cats need to be brushed every day and generally love that bonding time. Dogs love to go to the groomer, if you can’t do it yourself.

If you hesitate to have a pet now because you might outlive it, make arrangements in advance. Put your wishes in writing, notify your children or attorney that the document exists, put an “In case of emergency” note on the inside of your door, and then take a stroll through the local animal shelter. Look for a wagging tail or the eyes that meet yours.


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