The dilemma: Are you ever too old to have a pet?

Feb 21, 2023
They say dogs are a man's best friend. But what happens to the friendship when you become too old to have them as pets? Source: Getty

I miss having a pet. Well, sort of. In my thirty years with my partner, we have had six pets together — five cats and one dog.

But we don’t have any pets now. Although in theory, we would really like to have a cat, I feel we are too old to deal with them. The challenge of having a pet as you get older is much more complicated. 

It’s simple when you’re thirty and can run down the stairs with ease, or throw a ball 100 yards. But as we age, our ability to navigate the terrain of pet ownership becomes a little bit more problematic.

Here are a few other reasons.

Bending over isn’t that much fun anymore

Between dealing with cat food, dog food, litter, and puppy poop, I can’t handle it easily anymore. Bending over? Who wants to do that unless it’s absolutely necessary? Dropping something on the floor now requires acrobatic skills, so you’d better be in great shape because you have to do it several times a day if you have a pet. 

Since we moved to Florida without any pets, my back is gotten so much better. What a relief.

One lunge can pull you to the ground

One of my sixty-year-old friends owns a golden retriever. Her dog is normally well-behaved, but last week, he spotted a new dog in the neighbourhood and lurched forward to cross the street. Down my friend went, and so did her knee. She hasn’t been able to play pickleball since.

Pets are expensive

If you are on a fixed income, having a pet will complicate matters for you. Between cat food, cat litter, treats, medication, vet visits, and hair and nail trimming, those costs add up. Thinking about having lobster tonite? Might want to consider Top Ramen instead.

Travelling is difficult

I used to get so anxious when we would travel. Our pets always gave us the cold shoulder upon our return because they resented us being away. 

But I also worried that something horrible might

happen to them. Would our cat leap from the loft and break his neck? Would our female cat get her nails stuck on the wall heater for hours at a time? Would our dog chew on the rug and need to go to the emergency room? 

I also wondered if my pet sitter was doing a good job. Maybe she only scooped the litter every few days? I can’t deal with that type of stress anymore.

Being a caregiver makes having pets difficult

We are caring for my partner’s mother who is 92 and lives with us. Having a pet only adds to the tasks that we have to address every day. Plus, if she trips over an animal, she’s off to the emergency room, and so are we.

Will your pets outlive you?

If you get a pet in your elder years, they might outlive you. A cat or a dog will probably live at least ten to fifteen years. Do you really want to put your pet through dealing with your absence? I’ve seen enough sad animals on those pet adoption commercials. I don’t think I could do that to an animal.


I think I had a really bad allergy to cats which lasted for close to thirty years. I thought it was just the crappy air from living in Los Angeles, but I think it was actually the animals. 

Now that I don’t have pets, my allergies have pretty much evaporated. Now we don’t have to buy Kleenex at the store every other day.

Putting down an animal

We’ve ushered so many pets to the rainbow bridge, and I just don’t think I can handle that anymore. It’s just too hard. Besides, the last few years of any pet are usually riddled with all kinds of health issues. It’s not only expensive and physically demanding but also so painful watching them decline. I don’t regret having done this for all of our animals, but I just don’t think I can do it again.

Don’t get me wrong, I still miss all our pets because I’m a real animal lover. There’s nothing like the love, affection, and company they provide.

So we came up with a solution. We purchased two stuffed animals to replace our last two cats. They are housebroken, there are no medical bills, and they don’t eat much. I haven’t been scratched, bitten, or pulled to the floor. I don’t have to bend over to feed them, nor do I have to trim their nails or try to get them to swallow a pill.

They have been pretty cooperative in the last few years we’ve had them. They’re not live animals, but for now, they will do.

As for real pets? Some of my friends still have them, and like a grateful grandmother, I really enjoy visiting with them and then having the freedom to be able to leave.


Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up