Is it better to adopt a senior pet?
Are you thinking of welcoming a new pet into your home?
The chances are, you’ve probably been thinking about adopting a new puppy or kitten. They’re tiny, cute and sure to bring plenty of fun (and mischief!) to your family.
When puppies and kittens are brought to animal rescue centres, they’re often the first to be picked. And if you decide to adopt a pedigree kitten or puppy from a breeder, you can often choose your favourite one from the litter.
But have you considered adopting an older cat or dog instead? If you haven’t, there are plenty of reasons why you should. Older cats and dogs find themselves in need of rehoming for a range of reasons.
Their previous owner may be ill or deceased, their family might be separating, or their current owner may not have the time to look after them properly.
Whether you end up choosing a young baby pussycat or an older canine companion, make sure you find the right insurance for you and your new furry friend.
Go Get It is the UK's only dedicated pet insurance comparison website, which can help to save you time and money when comparing quotes. And having insurance in place could save you hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds in unexpected vet bills.
Benefits of adopting an older pet
You can teach an old dog new tricks
Have you heard the phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”? Well, guess what – it’s not true. Don’t be put off by the notion that an older dog might be set in their ways or have irreversible behavioural problems. Dogs are capable of learning new skills for their whole lives.
Most older pets will already be house trained
And while you might see a few little accidents when they first come to live with you, they’ll soon get into the swing of things again.
Effective toilet training in cats and dogs can be tricky, so adopting an older animal is a great way to avoid having to face this challenge. Plus, it will give you more time to enjoy hanging out with your new bestie.
They’re fully grown
Puppies start off tiny, but you can never really be quite sure just how big they’ll grow. Adopting an older dog means you’ll know exactly what you’re getting when it comes to size. So, there won’t be any little (or big) surprises down the line.
They’re (slightly) less likely to ruin your house
An older cat will be past the climbing up curtains and jumping off high shelves stage (hopefully anyway). And dogs are probably over the whole “chewing everything in sight” phase, too.
Set your older cat up in a room with a view and they’ll be happy for hours. If you’ve got lots of fragile ornaments or you’re more than a little bit house proud, an older cat or dog will probably suit your home better than a mischievous puppy or kitten.
They will already be socialised
Except for cats, of course – they don’t really do social. But socialising a young puppy can be time-consuming and it’s often a difficult process.
Older dogs will generally be comfortable in the company of other dogs. They might even have already learned to tolerate cats, too – which is great news if you live in a multi-pet household. If so, do a pet insurance comparison to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
They’re a great fit for busy lifestyles
If you work long hours or have lots of hobbies, a senior cat could be a great match for you. They naturally have less energy when they reach their older years, so they like to spend lots of time conserving energy (i.e. sleeping all day.)
They’ll be happy to do their own thing while you do yours – but they’ll be ready to snuggle up with you on the sofa by the time evening rolls around. Everyone’s a winner. And they’ll probably still enjoy the occasional game, too, especially if there are treats involved.
Older dogs are slightly more relaxed about exercise
Well, usually. Most older dogs will still enjoy going out for walkies, but they’ll probably be a little more laid back about it than pups under the age of three. Which means you’ll be able to fit their walks around your existing schedule – great news if you have a busy calendar.
You could be saving a life
It’s a fact that older pets are harder to rehome than younger animals. Competing for attention against cute puppies and kittens is tough. Many rescue pets awaiting adoption spend a long time in the animal shelter or rehoming centre.
And while most centres don’t put healthy animals to sleep, spending a long time in the shelter environment is not good for the animal’s wellbeing – and they could be taking up a space that’s needed by another homeless cat or dog.
Drawbacks of adopting an older pet
You might only have a short amount of time with them
But the sad truth is, this can apply to any pet. Even a young cat or dog can die unexpectedly. And some cats and dogs live much longer than others.
The best thing to do is make every moment spent with your pet count and do a pet insurance comparison to make sure you’ve got the best cover possible.
They may have health problems
Just like us, cats and dogs can be more susceptible to health problems when they reach their golden years. Conditions like arthritis, diabetes and urinary incontinence are common ailments which might affect older pets.
It can be difficult to find pet insurance for a cat or dog with pre-existing health conditions, but it’s not impossible. Compare policies with Go Get It insurance to find the best option for you and your pet.
Older pets can be set in their ways
This might be true, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. You just need to find a pet with a temperament and personality that will suit you and your lifestyle. So, if they’re used to living in a quiet home, they probably won’t be suited to a busy household with lots of children – and vice-versa.
Am I the right person to adopt a senior pet?
Adopting a pet is a huge commitment, whether they’re young or old. When you adopt a puppy or kitten, you have to be prepared to give them a loving and happy home for up to 18 years, sometimes even more.
They become an important part of the family and should be considered when making decisions like relocating, changing jobs or having children. When you adopt an older pet, you’re still making a huge commitment, but it’s likely to be for a shorter time frame.
According to Oldies Club, which helps to find loving homes for older dogs, “there’s no such thing as a typical oldie, and there’s no such thing as a typical home”. All dogs are different, but generally speaking, an older dog will be less problematic than a younger one.
If you’ve never owned a dog before, they make a great choice since you won’t have to go through the difficult puppy training phase.
Most older cats and dogs enjoy a slower pace of life, so they tend to be a good match for older owners. That’s not to say they won't fit in well in a livelier household.
They might be happy enough curling up quietly while their owners are out at work and school – as long as they are taken on a couple of decent walks or get to play a few games each day too. But in most cases, older pets are better suited to older owners.
How can I help my senior pet settle into their new home?
Whatever their age, it’ll take time for your new pet to adjust to their new home. All the different sights, smells and sounds could make them feel anxious for a little while, so it’s your job to help them settle in.
Common settling-in problems include car sickness, toilet accidents and crying during the night. For dogs, you could try “reward-based training” to tackle these issues – it’s an effective way to build a bond with your canine, too.
Let them spend plenty of time sniffing around and exploring their new home. Show them their new bed and where to find their food and water bowls.
Cats can be trickier to train. Use a carrier that feels secure and give them plenty of calm reassurance in the car. Introduce them to their new home gradually, giving them plenty of time to explore all the nooks and crannies.
Make sure their new living environment meets all their needs (i.e. they have access to enough litter trays in quiet, private areas and there are plenty of safe hiding places throughout the home).
Keep them indoors for at least two weeks after they move in, even if they’re climbing the walls to get out. Allowing them outside too early could lead to disaster if they try going back to their old home.
Keep an eye on your cat's body language, too – you’ll soon get to know their little ways and when they’re ready to venture back into the outside world.
Where can I find my new pet?
Take a look at the PDSA website for advice on how to adopt a dog or cat. They highly recommend choosing one of the many hundreds of lovely cats and dogs waiting for a home at a reputable rehoming centre.
The benefits of adopting from a rehoming centre include:
- Strict adoption processes, which include thorough home checks and adoption contracts
- You can find all types of cats and dogs – cross breeds, mongrels, moggies and pedigrees
- Staff at the rehoming centre will get to know you to ensure you’re matched with a cat or dog that best suits your lifestyle and circumstances
- Animals usually receive a health check and “temperament test” before they are adopted
- The rehoming centre can offer great advice on the adoption process and how to care for your pet. And they’ll provide post-adoption support, too
- Rehoming centres usually ensure all dogs are neutered before they are adopted
- You’ll be doing your bit to reduce the number of stray or unwanted cats and dogs in the UK
There are many well-known animal welfare charities you can try, including:
- Cats Protection
- Blue Cross
- SSPCA (Scotland’s Animal Welfare Charity)
- USPCA (Ulster Society Prevention Cruelty to Animals)
- Dogs Trust
- Wood Green The Animals Charity
- Battersea Cats and Dogs Home
Checklist for adopting a senior pet
- Consider your home and outdoor space.
- Think about your current lifestyle and what type of pet would fit in with your world.
- If you already have other pets, think about whether they will be happy to welcome another animal into their home. If you think they will, make sure you choose a pet that’s happy around other animals.
- If you have children, make sure they understand the basics of pet care. And make sure you choose a cat or dog that’s used to children.
- Assess your financial situation. Rehoming a pet is a great feeling, but you must be realistic. Vet bills, pet food and insurance can be costly – so make sure you’re prepared.
Have you already found your perfect pet?
Having a pet is great fun. It won’t take long for you and your family to develop a special relationship with your new pal.
But if your pet is involved in an accident or becomes ill, having insurance is vital. Veterinary care and treatment can be expensive.
A pet insurance policy will allow you to focus on caring for your pet – not worrying about how you’re going to pay for unexpected vet bills.
Be sure to compare pet insurance quotes by carrying out a pet insurance comparison with Go Get It insurance.
We compare policies from a range of leading UK pet insurers, ensuring you have the right level of cover in place.
Get a pet insurance comparison quote today.