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Why You Should Adopt an Older Animal

by Leonora Watkins 21 days ago in adoption

They need love more than ever

I was watching “Dirty John: Betty,” recently and in one of the courtroom scenes, Betty Broderick is talking about how difficult she’s finding it to get a job. And she said something that really stuck with me: “Everybody wants a kitten, nobody wants a cat.”

I was struck by how accurate this was, for both women, and animals.

We live in a society that holds youth and attractiveness on a pedestal, regardless of intelligence or capability. The western world praises youth and punishes age, especially in women.

The world is becoming increasingly shallow and it’s not just people who are suffering, animals are too. The disgusting practise of puppy farming has increased to keep up with the ever-increasing demands for certain “trendy” dog breeds. A shameful amount of people see dogs as a fashion statement rather than a best friend.

And an increasing number of older cats are being abandoned or mistreated because the family got a new kitten that surprisingly the older cat doesn’t get on with. Maybe it’s because you’re neglecting the older cat and focusing all your attention on the kitten. Of course, they don’t like it, they’re jealous, that’s how cats react when they’re jealous. They can’t explain what’s happening, and they can’t take it out on you so they take it out on the kitten.

What they don’t realise is that, in a few years, that kitten will be right where they are now, abandoned and lonely.

Your pet might be part of your world, but you are their entire world. You have your friends, work, family etc. They only have you, you are everything to them, they love you, trust you, and need you. Then you abandon them.

And I know that not all older animals in shelters are there because they’ve been abandoned, some of their owners have sadly passed away. So they’ve loved and been loved, but now they’re alone and confused. They don’t know what’s going on, where their owner is or why they haven’t come to get them. All these old dears know is that they’re somewhere new and scary, with new and scary people they don’t know or trust.

“But I don’t want to be lumbered with vets bills!”

Nobody does, and just because you’ve adopted an older animal doesn’t mean you’re going to be! We adopted a 10-year-old dog and the only vet bill we’ve had was when he broke his dewclaw. And the only medicine he has to take costs £5 per month, that’s pretty reasonable.

And getting a puppy or kitten is no guarantee that you won’t be stuck with astronomical vet bills. My wife’s boss got a kitten and at 2 years old he’s been diagnosed with a fatal heart condition that means he’s probably not going to last for the rest of the year. So far she’s paid £3000 in vet bills along with regular medication at £169 per month. And he’s a kitten.

“But I don’t want it to die straight away!”

We adopted Duke when he was 10, he’s going to be 13 on his next birthday and whilst he’s a little less speedy than he was, he’s still full of life. I mean, he loves to sleep, but who doesn’t?

You’re most likely going to outlive your pet, and whilst it will rip your heart out when they go, wouldn’t you want them to have spent their last few years in a loving home? Rather than in a shelter where they can only provide basic care?

I know most shelters do their best but the one we got Duke from was a filthy hell hole where the staff didn’t care who we were. They didn’t do a background check, no home visit, nothing. We took him home the day we saw him.

Our dog, Duke, was a working dog in Romania, and when he was too old to hunt anymore his owner took him to the vet and told him to put him down. He was going to have him killed because he had no use for him anymore. Thankfully the vet wasn’t a bastard and contacted the Romanian rescue centre Amicii who brought him to the UK. We saw him in his room, so sad and lonely he barely raised his head to look at us. We knew he was old and enormous but we had fallen in love.

Older animals need to know that they’re loved and safe. They’ve spent their whole lives loving others and when they’re at their most vulnerable they’re abandoned and left alone. You might not get to love them as long, so just love them more for the short time you have them.


Leonora Watkins

A qualified counsellor and an even more qualified queer. I specialise in victims of rape and sexual assault. I also have a degree in behaviour analysis.

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