11/3/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors often experience loneliness and isolation, especially after major life changes like the death of a partner or close friend, retirement, or adult children moving to a distant city. Pets can counteract such sad issues. They can be a great source of companionship and joy, and offer their owners love and other benefits. Just as humans have different needs and circumstances, pets have different qualities to match their owner’s energy, activity level, and commitment. 

Regardless of living conditions, financial resources, and space, there are a variety of low-maintenance options from which to choose. Pets offer love and affection, a reason to stay engaged and active, companionship in isolation, a sense of safety, and more. Here are some of the best pets for seniors to choose from!


Although cats can be quite independent and self-sufficient, they also enjoy human interaction. They are great companions for seniors who lack the strength or energy to regularly walk a pet. They have unique personalities and characteristics; for example, some cats are quite talkative and may be an asset to an owner who does not enjoy complete silence. 

Cats tend to explore and enjoy time alone, and do not require daily walks or trips outside. Keep in mind that whereas shorthaired cats clean themselves, longhaired cats may require more brushing and grooming. 


Dogs are a great option for seniors who enjoy trips outside and regular daily exercise. Choose a dog breed and size that will fit well into your home and yard, and one that you can safely pick up and walk on a leash. (Check out the best dog breeds for seniors here!) You may also consider rescuing or fostering a senior dog. 


A bird, or one of the best pets for seniors

There are many different types and sizes of birds, some that require more human interaction than others do. Canary and finch varieties are relaxing to listen to and entertain themselves. Parakeet species generally need more interaction with humans, but can be taught to speak. Birds require regular cage cleaning, which may be a consideration for those with mobility issues. 


Fish can be soothing and relaxing to watch, and require very little daily interaction. Once their tank is set up with heating, lighting, and a filter, maintenance is minimal. Fish are also a suitable option for seniors who have allergies to pet dander. 

  • Goldfish may be one of the most low-maintenance pets, and are often considered as a “first pet” for their ease of care. The classic fishbowl may sometimes be used short-term or during tank cleanings, but a small tank with a filter should be used long-term. Tanks can vary in size, but a smaller tank (10 gallons or under) should be considered to more easily facilitate water changes and tank cleaning. 
  • Betta fish are solitary and can live in a tank as small as 5 gallons. They are colorful and fun to watch. Betta fish only need to be fed once daily. Be sure not to overfeed, as this can result in an unhealthy fish.


Hamsters are one of the best pets for seniors

Rodents are small, easily accessible, and easy to care for. They do not have to be walked or taken out for exercise, and are inexpensive to maintain. 

  • Guinea pigs are sociable and happy to see their owners, and even sometimes jump in the air with excitement. They are easy to take care of, and only require a cage with shavings, food, and water. 
  • Rats and mice are small, tame, and even considered by some to be affectionate. They do need companionship, so consider having two of the same gender to avoid breeding. Keep in mind that their cages require regular cleanings to avoid odors. 
  • Hamsters are loving, docile animals, and are curious and lively, making them fun to watch. 


Reptiles may not be for everyone, but the leopard gecko may be one of the best pets for seniors who have allergies to furry animals. 

  • Leopard geckos are low-maintenance and quiet. Their small size means that they only need a small enclosure with proper lighting and accessories. Geckos live longer than fish, which may make them a more optimal choice for some. After setting them up, their maintenance is minimal. They do well in a 20-gallon tank, and eat food such as mealworms and crickets. They can be gently handled, and have a variety of different colors and morphs. 

From requiring a routine to stick to, providing companionship or a sense of safety, or keeping their owners active, pets serve a useful role in the lives of seniors. Carefully consider your needs and choose the animal that best fits into and enhances your life. The love and companionship will likely be mutual!

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff