Pets are such a joy! They give us love and companionship, make us laugh, comfort us, and make us get up and get some exercise. A bond like that can be even more important for senior citizens, who may benefit from ways to stay active and from having a companion to cheer their days.
Seniors often have a lot of a medical and emotional problems to face, including loneliness and depression, and limited mobility. Their children are typically grown and have moved away, and their spouse may have passed on, leaving them sad and alone. With their advancing age, they become less mobile, getting less exercise and getting out-and-about less often. This can lead to depression, but a pet can help with all of these problems.
In the case of a senior citizen, we think that a cat may make a better companion than a dog. Cats are easier to care for. They don’t need to be walked or have a Frisbee tossed to them. They do need exercise, but a senior can easily accomplish this while sitting in a chair by using a laser pointer or a pole, with string attached, and something dangling on the end, like feathers,.
On the other hand, a cat does require it’s owner to get up and move around occasionally. There needs to be fresh food and water put down daily, and the cat box needs to be cleaned. These things will ensure that the senior gets some exercise, which will also help to lift their mood and to exercise their joints.
You’ve often heard that a pet is good for your health. Having someone to talk to and to pet can lower your blood pressure and stress levels, and can boost your mood. Loneliness and depression are both very common in seniors, and having a feline companion can help with both. A cat is someone to talk to, to hug and pet, a friend to have around. Having a cat also makes the senior feel needed, and that can help lift their mood, too.
Choosing the Right Cat
You will want to match the cat’s personality to the senior, after all, you will most likely want a cat that likes to be held and petted. Some cats just don’t like that! Kittens are usually not the best choice for a senior, since they are so rambunctious, and can make an older person nervous with all their excessive energy.
There are age considerations, too. Who will care for the cat if the senior has to go into a home, or if the cat outlives them? A cat can live 15 or 20 years, so there needs to be a contingency plan in place. Generally, an older cat will appreciate the calmness of the senior’s home, and the senior will appreciate the calmness of the older cat.
The American Humane Society has a program called “Seniors for Seniors” where they match up older cats (usually 6 years old or older) to senior people (usually 60 or older) who don’t already have a pet. Some chapters offer discounted adoption fees and, knowing that seniors are often on fixed incomes, a few offer an annual subsidy to help with the financial needs of owning a cat. It won’t cover everything, but it will help.
Jl Colbern says: My father in law is a lonely widower who just lost his best buddy, Ben, a senior cat who was adopted while my mother in law was very sick. Now they’re both gone, father in law is very sad, lonely, and eating too much. Needs a companion, someone to care for and who’ll return that love tenfold! We’ll know the cat when we find him or her. 🙂 from a comment on Petfinder
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If you do help your senior parent, friend, or relative to adopt a cat, be sure to look in on them and offer your support. Here’s to a healthier and happier life for our seniors and their kitties!