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Cats vs. Dogs – What’s the Best Pet for Seniors?

By Margaret Manning December 03, 2016 Family

By now, it’s pretty clear that the evidence shows that having a pet is a great idea for many seniors.

Beyond the “soft” benefits of owning a pet – like unconditional love and emotional support – animals can be great for your health. For example, according to this study, owning a pet may significantly reduce your chances of developing heart disease.

But, this raises an interesting question. What is the best pet for seniors?

Your first instinct may be to say, “That’s a personal decision… go with whatever you like!” Of course, there is some truth to this. Some people really do see themselves as “dog people” or “cat people.” But, if we dig below the surface, it seems like there really are some differences between the two. Let’s take a look.

The Case for Owning a Cat

Cats are usually more independent than dogs. If you don’t feel like waking up every morning at 5am to take your “best friend” for a walk, a cat may be a better option. In addition, many women in the community have told me that they love the complex personality of their feline friend. To some people, owning a cat, feels more like “friendship” than “ownership.”

On a practical level, if you love to travel, owning a cat may make your life easier. Most cats are more than happy to stay at home by themselves for a few days. When you come home, they’ll be happy to see you – and they (usually) won’t have destroyed your living room.

The Case for Owning a Dog

If getting more exercise is one of your goals, owning a dog is a great option. Whether you like it or not, your dog-owning days will be filled with walks to the park, strolls around the neighborhood and trips to the back garden.

While not universally true, dogs tend to show “unconditional love” better than cats. Many women in the community have told me that their dog “adores” them. It was certainly this way with my last dog, a blue Chihuahua, called Chica. Every time she looked at me, I could feel the loving emotions radiating from her. It’s not that cats don’t show their love. I’ve had plenty of cats that would curl up next to me for hours. But, it seems like they do everyone “on their own terms.”

It’s entirely possible that I am being over simplistic here. This is exactly why I’d love to get your feedback. Please take a few minutes to join the conversation below and let us know whether you think that a dog of a cat is a better fit for most seniors.

By the way, regardless of what kind of animal you choose, I would strongly encourage you to look at adoption. There are so many amazing dogs and cats in the world that need a good home. You can search for a place to adopt a pet here.

What kind of pet do you think is the best for seniors? If your natural reaction is to say, “It depends…” please tell us what you think it depends on. Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the conversation going.

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I live in a full apt. I do a lot of crafting. My Daughter has 2 Shepherds, but I’m more of a cat person. I’m not very active, and live upstairs. Any suggestions?

The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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