Pet Connections

Find a Senior Pet to love during Adopt a Senior Pet Month

Our pets’ lives are shorter than ours, and once their age is in the double digits the fear of their seemingly imminent loss can often outweigh the joy of their potential unconditional love. But we never have a guarantee at how long a pet will live even if we adopt it at just a few months old. We are able to give our pets assistance and support as they age so our sweet seniors can surprise us with their intelligence, sensitivity and longevity and live happily and in good health far more years than we expected. A pet whose age is in the double digits may still have a decade or more left to share with you.

It’s not unusual that a senior pet is relinquished by a senior human either from the person’s illness or infirmity or even death. Losing their longtime person and home, often the only one they’ve ever known, can be a trauma, but older pets can weather this with surprising patience and grace. Still, senior pets often languish in shelters, even longer than other adults, and in some shelters are not given a chance at adoption at all.

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, brought to you by Petfinder.com and celebrated by the ASPCA and Adopt-a-Pet.com along with hundreds of shelters and rescues around the country. Senior pets deserve homes just as much as younger pets, and I am here to tell you that adopting a senior pet is one of the best things you’ll ever do. A senior or even geriatric pet remembers a lifetime of having a home or homes and while sitting in a shelter waiting to be adopted knows what they are missing in those final years. Our pets deserve to live as long as their natural lifespan allows. If any pet needs the loving support of a human, it’s a senior pet.

I think of all the cats who spent their lives with me into their late teens and early twenties—Stanley, Moses, Sophie, Peaches, Cookie, Kelly, and even my fosters Lakota and Emeraude—and I think of them being homeless at that age and I know those older pets looking for homes right now are no different from the cats I loved. For all the kittens and playful juveniles and lovely adult cats whose photos I see every day looking for homes, it’s those seniors I’m the most moved to rescue and I wish I could do more. Aside from taking them all in, the best thing I can do is take what I can and encourage others.

What we expect when we adopt a pet

When we consider adopting a pet we usually think about what we expect from that pet, and that’s a good thing to go into this important relationship with a clear idea of what we expect. Often our ideal pet is one who is full of unconditional love and loyal to us, likes to cuddle and spend time with us, a pet we can spoil a little and they’ll really appreciate it.
Often younger pets have another agenda and take years to settle down to where we feel they are truly a companion, so no pet fits this description of what most people are looking for in a pet better than a senior who is ready to just have a nice life for whatever time is left.
But we may forget adopting a pet is not all about us and what we want. While we want a pet, who will spend a lifetime with us, senior pets are looking for a human to spend the rest of their lifetime, and will be no less loyal and loving for the brevity. And if we think we will be sad when we lose them sooner than we want to and therefore won’t consider a senior pet, imagine how sad that pet is right now, at their age in a shelter with no home, and an uncertain future. Surely we can set aside our fear of loss to make an older pet very happy.

Senior kitties I’ve rescued, fostered and loved

Peaches and her sister Cream came to me at 15. We enjoyed life with Creamy for ten months and I’m glad she had the time to adjust to having lost her human before passing. Peaches lived five years that were as complete and fulfilling as if she’d lived with me all of her 20 years—my portfolio of art and photos would be incomplete without her petite dilute calico sweetness, and I simply couldn’t imagine my household of felines without her.

Emeraude and Lakota came to me at age 19 and 20. While Lakota’s time was only measured in weeks, they were six great weeks wherein he had the chance to totally charm and conquer one more human in his lifetime. Emeraude was with us for only months but it was enough time for her to relax and really join our household, enjoy the company of other cats and know that she was special to me. They had the chance to live out their lives to their natural end.

The age considered “senior” for a cat was, and still is in some cases, only seven years old. More recently, though, other authorities and perhaps even your own veterinarian, differ in opinion, especially for cats, varying from eight to twelve years of age. But when you consider adopting, no matter the age, consider welcoming a senior cat into your home.

Can’t adopt? Foster! Can’t foster? Donate or volunteer.

There are so many ways you can help pets who need homes and care. You may not have room to adopt another pet, but can foster for a few weeks, volunteer at a shelter or with a rescue, or donate to a shelter’s wish list. No matter which of these actions you take, you help to save a life, and make life better for all pets.

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