It’s no secret that elderly people who live alone are often lonely. Especially in the last year, the opportunities for socializing and feeling part of a community have decreased significantly, and while technology offers them a glimpse into the lives of their families and friends, it’s a poor substitute for in-person interactions.
Homeless elderly cats and dogs are often overlooked and forgotten. Passed up for younger, cuter and more energetic specimens, even the best-behaved and sweetest older pets have a hard time finding a forever home.
The solution to these two problems has become pretty clear to some animal rescue groups. One of them is Fancy Cats & Dogs Rescue Team in Fairfax, Virginia, which has placed over 15,000 cats and offers a program called “Senior Cats for Senior Laps.”
“Our Senior Cats for Senior Laps program places ‘senior’ cats who are 7 years old with senior citizens who are 65+ years old,” Fancy Cats & Dogs Rescue Team shared on Facebook. “We waive the adoption fees for adopters who participate in the program (standard adoption procedures apply).
“The goals are to both provide loving companionship for seniors looking to share their homes with a friendly, gentle animal, and to find permanent homes for wonderful, overlooked cats in need.
“Research shows that companion animals can improve health and happiness, regardless of age, health, social or even economic status. Why not improve your overall well-being by adopting one of our lovable senior companions! Check out our available seniors!”
At least 56 shelters across 35 different states offer similar programs for their older adoptable pets, which has increased both the number of senior pets that get adopted and the number of seniors who can add a companion to their household.
“Most seniors just want companionship,” Cathy Awad, the founder of the rescue team, told CBS News. “A kitten is not going to do that.”
Kittens may be adorable, but they’re a ton of work and have a lot of learning to do. That can be fun, but it can also be draining. A more mature cat is more stable.
“Older kitties know how to cat purrfectly: More affectionate, more mellow, more into you!” the rescue shared on Friday. “We have sooo many older cats, getting overshadowed by the kitten plenitude this time of year.”
“Look who was on the news tonight!” the organization shared on Wednesday. “Fancy Cats works so hard for all homeless cats, but never passes over the seniors. Please consider adopting an older cat, it is so hard for them to get noticed among the kittens.”
Many seniors are concerned about what will happen if they adopt an animal that outlives them, but perhaps fostering a pet would still give them the best of both worlds. If you’re interested in adding a pet to your home — no matter your age — check out your local shelter to see what kinds of programs they offer.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.