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August 29, 2013

Elders should consider age of adopted pet

NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: I enjoyed reading your article on the 78-year-old woman who recently adopted a cat. I, too, adopted a cat, and I am 76 years old.

The cat is very comforting to me, and he is an excellent companion. My wife passed away two years ago, and anyone who goes through this stressful experience understands what it is all about. You get very lonely and at times don’t know if you will get through another day without your significant other.

I will be away for one week soon, and I am thinking about leaving the cat downstairs rather than letting him roam the entire home while I’m gone. The downstairs area is large and provides enough space for the cat, his litter box and food. Is this a good idea? I have a pet sitter who will come in once a day to feed him.

Any thoughts you may have will be appreciated. Thank you.

— P.E., Port Republic, Md.

Dear P.E.: You have my condolences regarding the loss of your wife, and I trust that other readers will consider, as you did, adopting animal companions because of their phenomenal healing powers and the fact that they need good homes.

But always consider the animal’s age — your cat might outlive you. What provisions have you made in your will? Adopting an older animal who will probably not outlive you might be more humane.

Have your pet sitter come in at least twice a day to clean out the litter box, feed, water, sit with and pet/groom the cat. Maybe set up a routine to switch the TV or radio on so the cat feels less alone.

If your cat is used to having access to the entire house, confining him to the basement while you are gone could be extremely traumatic, so I’d say no to that. Have the pet sitter come visit as often as possible while you are still there so your cat will be less afraid of a relative stranger when you are gone.

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