Buying a Pet for Seniors: Cat or Dog?

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Dogs or cats tend to be wonderful company for seniors, and in many ways, caring for a pet keeps them young at heart. Deciding which type of pet is the right choice, though, can be somewhat challenging.

This guide features information about the pros and cons of buying both dogs and cats for older folks. There is not one definitive answer; both species are excellent choices. You must, however, consider your loved one’s individual needs and the situation in order to make the best decision for him or her.


More active than cats – Dogs generally require quite a bit of exercise on a daily basis. This is great for active seniors who can take them for walks and be outdoors regularly. If, however, your loved one is at home most of the time, a high-energy dog could be a burden. If you do decide to get him or her a canine, consider an older animal that rests much of the time.

More personable than cats – As a general rule, dog owners tend to feel a closer connection to their pets than do feline owners. This is largely because dogs are more affectionate and compassionate than cats, which is appealing to many people. There are those, though, who would prefer an animal that is mostly self-sufficient, which is not true of most dogs.

Can function as service animals – Some senior citizens suffer from medical conditions that can make it challenging for them to leave their homes. Dogs can be trained as service animals to assist these people, allowing them to lead more active, independent lives. If you are interested in a service dog for your loved one, you will need to go through an organization that matches these animals with their new owners.


Do not require a lot of attention – Although every cat is different, the vast majority of these animals don’t require a great deal of care on a daily basis. As long as they have food and water, they tend to keep to themselves. If your loved one would prefer a low-maintenance pet, a cat might be the answer. Due to their self-sufficient nature, however, felines also tend to be less loving than their canine counterparts.

Meet apartment weight requirements – One of the challenges with dogs is that they sometimes don’t meet the weight requirements that some apartments and senior living communities have for pets. Cats, on the other hand, are almost always small enough and quiet enough to reside in these types of communities.

Cost less than dogs – On average, a cat will cost its owner $300-$800 less per year than a dog. For senior citizens who are on fixed incomes, this might be a deciding factor when it comes to figuring out which kind of pet is best.

These are just some of the things you should consider before picking a cat or a dog for your friend or family member. Also, find out if he or she has a preference. Some individuals have allergies and other factors that should be taken into consideration during the decision-making process.

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