A week or two ago, my friend Cora adopted a fluffy calico cat she named Blanche. Perhaps a year old, Blanche joins Jiggy the pug and Derwood the gray-and-white American short-hair cat in the rent-stabilized studio that Cora has called home for decades.
Cora happens to be 66, and she is hardly alone–among humans as well as animals. In fact, a new survey commissioned by AARP has found that 40 percent of Americans 65 and older own a pet. Of those, 27 percent have a dog and 19 percent, a cat.
Among the survey’s 1,062 respondents, 45 percent of those 50-64 years old own a dog and 27 percent, a cat. No other animals were higher than 4 percent (birds, in the younger demographic).
Why so many pets? In the case of Cora, who has lost her share of animals over the years, she missed having, as she put it, a “baby” in her life despite the fact that her menagerie can make for a crowded, noisy and messy existence. (And she’s a professional Nanny! Go figure.) In that respect, too, she is typical.
By far the biggest reason given for acquiring a pet was companionship: 56 percent (younger group) and 71 percent (older). No other category–e.g. security and child’s playmate came close, though “other” had the biggest percentage, 31 percent.
Having once had three cats in my own life, I get the companionship thing. Even though I don’t live alone, I still miss especially the one who (not “which”) died about two years ago. He used to tuck his head in the crook of my arm to sleep when I got into bed. The one whose kidneys finally gave out a year ago always ran to the front door when she heard the key turn in the lock. And the long-gone Siamese was the amusing, if aloof, talker of the lot.
Whether I’ll adopt another cat or two is an open question.
Coincident to my coming upon the AARP poll, Doug Heddings recounted an anecdote in his blog last week of a $2 million apartment that went unsold until the broker got the building to modify its no-dog policy by imposing a $250 monthly assessment and requiring sound proofing. The co-op received five bids soon thereafter.
When my real estate business was in the D.C. area, it seemed to me that most condos and the relatively few co-ops did not allow dogs, while it appears to be the other way around here in Manhattan, even with the paucity of backyards.
Susan Allison-Gephart, 61, lives neither in Manhattan nor D.C. She lives near Columbus, Ohio. After her daughter got married 10 years ago, Susan told AARP, she brought home an African gray parrot named Buckeye. In addition, she has a poodle with which she plays catch, but Buckeye is the animal that keeps her hopping. Says she:
The parrot is extremely demanding. He really forces me to move. When he wants something, if I don’t get up and go see what he wants, he yells and yells until I come. He’s a handful . . . He can fly, but he chooses for me to come get him.
For the sake of Susan and Buckeye, let’s just hope that the poodle doesn’t decide to play catch with the parrot!
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022