Three pets other than dogs that make great pets for seniors

Jun 25, 2020
Cats are a low-maintenance pet. Source: Getty

Just because a person has reached their golden years doesn’t mean they can no longer have pets. In fact, animals can make great companions for the elderly, helping reduce loneliness and anxiety and providing routine.

Reduced mobility that often comes with old age means that taking a dog for long daily walks or constantly cleaning up after other kinds of pets might not be possible. However, do not fear! Pet ownership is possible for as long as someone wants to open their home and heart to another species. Keep reading to find out some low-maintenance, easy-to-care-for pets for seniors that make great companions.

Leopard gecko

Don’t be put off by these scales! Leopard geckos are one of the most low maintenance reptiles to have as a pet and are growing rapidly in popularity for this reason. Adult leopard geckos only need to be fed three times a week, and they eat insects such as mealworms and crickets you can find at any pet store, meaning you don’t need to worry about getting them fresh, live prey, as some other reptiles require.

They only need a 20-gallon tank to be comfortable, which is the perfect size for seniors who might live in a small apartment and don’t have too much space to allocate to an animal. They are relatively inexpensive, and once the upfront costs of the gecko, tank, and supplies are taken care of, the long-term costs are very low.

Their tank can be placed on a table or desk, which makes them great for a person who might have mobility or joint issues and can’t bend down to change a litter box on the ground. Even those brand new to reptile keeping will find the leopard gecko easy to care for!


For those who like more traditional pets and can’t commit to the higher maintenance of dog ownership, a cat could be the perfect companion!

Shorthair cats would be a great choice for seniors because they groom themselves and don’t shed as much as longhair cats. Compared to dogs, cats demand very little attention of their owners–only the occasional cuddle or pet. Cats have distinct personalities, but most are very independent, and generally can entertain themselves. Many enjoy spending time around people, but also happy to be on their own.

Seniors who have arthritis or other physical limitations will still be able to care for a cat. However, a certain level of mobility is necessary for activities such as changing a litter box or opening up a can of food.

A cat makes great company for anyone living alone. Studies have shown that petting an animal can increase the hormone oxytocin, which promotes feelings of love, happiness, and general wellbeing. Many seniors experience loneliness, especially those who live alone. A feline companion will greatly reduce these feelings, without being too much of a burden to care for.


Looking for a striking, sweet, easy-to-care-for bird? Look no further than the canary! This species is famous for its beautiful song, and watching and listening to a canary sing brings one a sense of peace and calm.

Compared to females, males are the bigger singers and will provide relaxing background noise without the loud squawks of a parrot. Generally, these birds are independent and do not require hands-on attention and socialisation that is necessary for many kinds of parrots. They are happy to stay in their cages and can be kept alone or in pairs. Additionally, they do not require a large cage, which makes them perfect for apartment living or for a senior in a long-term care facility.

Their upfront cost is relatively low, and while they do require daily feeding and regular cage cleaning, are one of the easiest bird species to take care of. They are a great fit for a senior who wants the company of a feathered friend, but not necessarily a constant companion who requires hands-on attention.

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Would you consider buying one of these pets?

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