Golden oldies but young at heart

Senior pets available for adoption at RSPCA South Australia often get overlooked but they make wonderful companions. For many Australians, an older pet might just be the perfect match.

Older furry residents at their shelters take life a little slower than the younger ones, particularly when it comes to finding a new forever home.

If you’ve ever browsed their adoption pages, you may have noticed a long list of cats and dogs who are, well, long in the tooth. But why is that?

While there are many reasons animals end up in a shelter, with older pets it’s often because their previous owners have fallen ill or are no longer able to care for the animal themselves. Some owners have moved into residential care where animals are prohibited, while others have passed away.

Regardless of the way they come into RSPCA SA’s care, senior animals tend to face a similar situation – they often wait a longer time to be adopted than the younger animals.

But adopting an older pet can offer multiple benefits.

Finding the perfect match

When it comes to adopting an animal, there is nothing more important than compatibility. How will your new pet fit in with your family and lifestyle?

For older Australians, a senior pet might be the perfect match. A cat or pooch in its twilight years is often physically less demanding than younger pets and their personalities are already known. Additionally, most of them are content to curl up on your lap and enjoy a pat, or to find a nice sunny spot to rest.

Less risk of indoor ‘mistakes’ or damage with older pets

Your table legs, curtains, carpets and cushions will give out a collective sigh of relief when they see a gentle senior cat or dog come through the front door.

They usually have toileting-etiquette worked out, they have learnt not to jump up, and are generally calmer than younger animals. In a nutshell, older animals tend to be less demanding than younger ones.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t teach older animals new tricks! Even though a senior pet can be a bit slower and more placid, they still like to have fun with their owners. A lot of older animals are still young at heart.

There are considerable health benefits in owning a pet

Having animals in our lives can give us a push to become more active.

“No matter what their age is, pets are well proven to be good for our health, giving us a reason to become more active. Dogs, for example, need their daily walks and being outdoors in the fresh air is good for us too. Studies have also shown that having a pet can help to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and ease loneliness.” said RSPCA SA spokesperson Carolyn Jones.

A 2019 study found that people who own a dog are more likely to have a healthier heart. More than 40% of participants in the study owned a dog and, as a result of their more active lifestyle, they had lower blood pressure and had overall better heart health.

Two happy friends, McGee with his new owner Chris Doolan, Image credit: Ryan Jiannis

You will be taken aback by their immense gratitude

“Animals need the same thing we all do – love and attention. And just because older animals have lived some of their lives with someone else, that doesn’t mean they are going to love living with you any less. We receive lots of feedback from people who have adopted older animals from us, and they all say the same thing – you can sense how grateful they are to have a new home” Carolyn said.

Like a fine wine, pets get better with age. Open your heart and home to an animal in its twilight years and you’ll be rewarded with their immense gratitude and loyal companionship.


To browse RSPCA SA’s senior cats and dogs visit:

adopt.rspcasa.org.au/seniors

You can visit one of RSPCA SA’s shelters at:

Lonsdale: 25 Meyer Road, Lonsdale. Phone: 1300 477 722

West Lakes: West Lakes Adoption Hub, corner of Brebner Drive and West Lakes Boulevard. Phone: 0466 948 926

Port Lincoln: 22 Windsor Avenue, Port Lincoln. Phone: (08) 8682 3016

Whyalla: 7 Cook Street, Whyalla Norrie. Phone: (08) 8644 0172

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