“My little old dog … a heartbeat at my feet.” —Edith Wharton

Anyone who’s loved a cat or dog into his or her golden years understands the powerful bond shared following years of weathering life’s ups and downs together. And though our senior animals eventually succumb to health problems—a road not easily traveled— physical hardships don’t alter the size of their heart or their capacity to love.

But you may be surprised by the age at which your best furry friend is considered a senior. Different breeds age at different rates: Irish Wolfhounds (so adorable!) enter their sunset years at the mere age of 4.5; other breeds, like Dachshunds, don’t dip a paw into the next chapter until 11. (You can check your dog’s breed here.) Cats become seniors anywhere between 7 and 10 years of age. Keeping up on well checks helps you stay informed.

No matter the breed, our senior animals are easy to cherish! Here are five reasons why I think they are awesome members of the family:

1. They are calm. Having left the rambunctious puppy or kitten stage behind, older animals tend to lead a peaceful existence, napping longer and not getting into so much trouble. They’re always up for a snuggle, don’t bother you for as much exercise, and are usually great with children. You’ll get a full night’s sleep, too (something often interrupted by a puppy or kitten!).

2. They have it all figured out. The difficulties of housetraining and dog- and cat-proofing your home for a new personality are behind you now. And no more searching behind the fridge for your uber-curious kitten or dealing with destroyed furniture. Yes, the baby stage is so cute and often missed, but senior animals have finally figured things out—and have the wisdom and gentleness to show for it.

3. They have a lot of love to give! Senior dogs and cats may have gotten their rowdiness out, but their hearts are bigger than ever. These mellow sweethearts find happiness in a clean bed, fresh food and water, and their favorite people to nuzzle with their silver muzzles.

4. They are Reiki sponges. Whether you are experienced with Reiki or just starting out, senior animals are perfect subjects for practicing your meditations. They focus more easily and are usually grateful for your attentions to their aches and pains. And, having lived on this earth for many years, they’ve become wise teachers of compassion, generosity, love and patience.

5. You understand each other perfectly. What more can you ask for in a companion? The two of you have seasons of shared memories behind you and now “fit” each other perfectly.

For those looking to expand their fur family, all of the wonderful qualities listed above are also reasons why older cats and dogs are amazing choices at shelters. Thousands end up in shelters every year due to reasons beyond their control—often, they’re given up by aging caregivers forced to let them go. Sadly, senior animals are euthanized at higher rates than their younger counterparts, which is why senior cat and dog adoption is a cause close to my heart. When you choose to bring an older pet home, you truly are saving a life (and they’ll thank you every day for it). To support senior animal adoption, check out The Senior Dogs Project and Seniors for Seniors by PAWS.

Let’s remember today and always to celebrate our senior animals and make life extra special for them!

CLICK HERE for a 1-hour audio course to learn more lessons animals teach us and get inspired with practical tips to deepen your Animal Reiki practice!

10 thoughts on “5 reasons senior dogs and cats are extra special”

  1. Margaret Churchill

    I love this! I have 5 cats and they are all seniors. I love to watch them interact with us and each other. I would never hesitate to adopt a senior animal. They deserve to live out the rest of their lives in peace and solitude.

    Thank you Kathleen, for posting!

  2. Fátima Cunha Velho

    Being a volunteer in a Dog Shelter, I give Reiki to many senior dogs, and it is a wonderfull experience, as they adsorbe Reiki like a “sponge” as you wrote.
    I believe it helps them to leave this world in a peaceful way. I remember Sprite, a white senior dog, who died on the World Reiki Day…
    I gave him Reiki on the last weeks, and I know he left in Peace <3

    1. That is beautiful to hear Fátima. How wonderful that you are helping these dogs 🙂 Very touching to hear about Sprite too, what a gift that you could share Reiki with him during his final chapter in life. Keep up the great work!

  3. My 13 year old malteze schitzu loves her daily massages and reiki. If she were a cat I know she would be purring. It helps her body move more freely and she is quite content for it to go on forever!

  4. every day, every moment, every look, even when we took it slow, step by step, wait to get steady, … her early life in service for others, her retirement our love, joy for life .. life that cannot be man-made, … our drayton harbor midnight cali landes mulhern black english lab brought joy for her 16 1/2 years and is deeply missed

  5. Beautiful article Kathleen, thank you for sharing. They are indeed Reiki sponges, perfect teachers and companions !.

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