Older animals are often the most overlooked by potential adopters. They might not be as cute as a kitten or puppy, but there are actually many advantages to adopting an older pet.

When adopting an animal, it helps to select one that already has the personality that fits what you’d like in your companion. Older dogs and cats have mostly developed their personalities.

If you’ve dreamed of having a cat that will sit on your lap, you can find one that you know will do that. If you don’t have time to train a dog, you can find one that already understands basic commands. You can find a running partner, or a couch potato. You’ll be able to tell whether they’re highly active or quite calm. They can show you what toys they like, what food they prefer, whether they like to be picked up and cuddled, or left alone.

If you’re looking for specific personality traits, an older dog can tell you whether they’re a fit. A younger dog may grow up to hate the things you love. So by focusing on personality, rather than age or looks, you’re more likely to find the companion you’ve been dreaming of, which will lead to a much happier partnership.

Just because you adopt an older pet, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy plenty of time together. For example, although cats are often labeled as “senior” when they’re six or seven, the average life expectancy for an indoor cat is between 12-15 years. According to the website www.petsplusus.com, one cat year is roughly equal to between six and seven human years. The oldest recorded cat lived to be 28 years old.

The life expectancy for dogs varies more depending on their breed or size. The larger the dog, the more quickly he may age, and some breeds come with genetic leanings for certain medical conditions, so you may want to do some research if you’re considering a particular breed. Dogs age at roughly seven to nine human years per one dog year.

That means that a cat that is six years old might compare to a human of 40…hardly a senior citizen. Plus, just like people, animals are beginning to live longer lives with improvements in medical care, available nutrition, and better understanding of the human/animal bond. Your seven year old dog may still be out jogging the trails with you.

So focus instead on what’s really important to you during the time your companion animal is with you, however long that is. Find the pet that speaks to your heart, that you can imagine sharing your life with.

All kittens and puppies grow up and most of us will outlive more than one pet in our life. Don’t let that keep you from experiencing the great love that older animals can provide.

There really are no guarantees. What’s most important is that the animal you adopt is one you will love.