Mindful Monday – Should Seniors Adopt a Pet?

Since I’m now a senior…who am I kidding? I’ve been considered a senior for quite a while now. Well, because I am, this question has serious meaning for me. I dread the idea of someday being without a cat. It could happen. I wonder when I’m at the age of eighty-something and without a cat, should I adopt or would it be kinder to forego the pleasure of a cat companion to protect the cat from being eventually orphaned? It’s a legitimate question, don’t you think so?

A friend asked me just the other day if shelters are refusing to allow seniors to adopt young pets. I told her I haven’t heard of such a mandate. She relayed the story of a woman near where she lives in Arizona, who visited a pet shelter and was told that she could not adopt because of her age. However, if she had someone lined up to take responsibility for the pet should she become unable to care for it, they would be happy to send her home with a cat or a dog of her choice. The document, by the way, had to be signed by the person taking responsibility for the pet and notarized.

I can certainly see the logic in that, which is why I’ve written blog posts and magazine articles on the importance of choosing a godparent for your pet—no matter your age. The truth is a pet can be such a pleasure and a life-saver for a senior. Pets can give a lonely senior companionship and purpose. A dog encourages us to get out of the house and exercise in the fresh air. Cats give us a reason to get up each morning. They provide us fodder for conversation. AND, there are an awful lot of seniors who can care for otherwise homeless and abandoned cats and dogs. Here’s a site giving six benefits of having a pet as you age. https://www.aginginplace.org/seniors-and-pets/

Here’s an article that appeared in Psychology Today in 2011 and still has merit today as a positive response to those who would deny adopting a pet to a senior. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201101/animal-shelters-say-no-puppies-or-kittens-the-elderly

Yes, some shelters are carefully screening (as they should). We all want to know that an animal will be properly cared for. When you’re responsible for that cat or dog, even more so. But I believe that to deny a needy homeless cat or dog a beautiful life for however long it might be, is something to be reconsidered.

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