There are several factors that may harm a shelter animal’s chances of being adopted. They may have special needs; they may be a marginalized breed, like a pit bull; but often it’s simply a matter of age. Kittens and puppies generally have a better chance of finding homes, while adults and seniors are overlooked.
This is very unfortunate, as there are many upsides to adopting an older pet. Usually they are more mellow, well-behaved, and easier to train than younger ones. According to Heather Clyde, manager and veterinary technician at the Homeward Animal Shelter, “Older dogs are usually fully housetrained, so you don’t have to worry about the often difficult task of potty-training a puppy. Older cats are far less likely to be destructive, compared to a rambunctious kitten.”
Currently the oldest Homeward Shelter animal is Prada, a miniature poodle who’s currently in a foster home. When she arrived at the shelter, her teeth were in such poor condition that she had to have them pulled. On the upside, Clyde claims, “Since dental disease is a common problem among small breed dogs, you no longer have to worry about her teeth because she has none!”
Though Prada requires some accommodation, she is gentle, affectionate, and would make a lovely pet. “She is a super sweet girl who thinks that all humans should hold and cuddle her,” Clyde says. “If you are looking for a little lap dog, Prada would be the perfect fit!”
Homeward Shelter also has four senior cats up for adoption. While they are not all in perfect health, they are all looking for loving homes.
“They all have great personalities,” Clyde says, “and both Sebastian and Ophelia enjoy the company of other cats and dogs. Pooples and Ophelia have no known health issues. Mimi has hyperthyroidism, which is easily treated with some transdermal medication. And Sebastian is currently on a special food to maintain his kidney health.”
While Sebastian, Ophelia, and Pooples are in foster care, Mimi currently resides at the shelter. She was originally surrendered when her elderly owner moved to an assisted living facility and could no longer keep her; and, more recently, she was sent back by her foster family because she was stressed about sharing the house with another cat. Sebastian and Pooples were originally adopted from Homeward, only to be surrendered several years later.
“Cats are considered senior at 8-10 years which in people years is 49-58,” says Gail Ventzke, executive director of CATS Cradle Shelter. “Many cats live to be in their 20s.”
CATS Cradle has a gentle old soul named Kerrick, who’s estimated to be about ten to twelve years old. He’s shy, quiet, and content to just sit up on his high shelf and observe his surroundings like a majestic lion overlooking his pride. Though he’s slow to trust and will need some coaxing to come out of his shell, he would make a wonderful low-maintenance companion.
The other senior at CATS Cradle is eight-year-old Cuddles. The staff considers him a total gentleman, as he will willingly give up his sleeping spot to any of the six female cats he lives with. And of course, he lives up to his name by being sweet, gentle, and mild-mannered.
“Older cats are settled in, usually quiet and unassuming,” Ventzke says. “They make wonderful pets for people who just need a quiet companion and do not have a busy household.”
So if you’re looking for a napping buddy rather than a jogging partner, look into adopting a senior pet. Chances are they’ll be all the more grateful for knowing they’ve been rescued after being overlooked for so long.
– Särah Nour