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[Excerpt] Are you a dog person or a cat person?

That’s the number one question that most retirees thinking about pet ownership need to answer. Your grandkids might fawn over smaller critters and birds … until they get nipped. Anything larger probably belongs on a farm or a stable you’ll visit from time to time. Fish can be soothing to watch … until they’re belly up in that expensive tank you just bought.

Of course, cats and dogs come with their own sets of hassles. Paying for food, toys, and health care can add a significant line item to your monthly budget. Frequent travelers may have to arrange for a pet sitter. And some folks just don’t want to deal with the noise, the hair, the drool, or the occasional accident on the carpet.

But seniors who are willing to accept the responsibilities of owning a dog or cat will find that pets can add a lot of Return on Life to retirement.

1. Pets keep you active.

Walking, running, hiking, and cycling are activities that are good for seniors and for dogs. Incorporating your new friend’s wellness into your own routine can give you that extra motivation to get out of the house when the sky’s a little cloudy or you’re just not in the mood.

Cats are, well, less ideal exercise companions. Some folks do like to push, pull, or carry their cat carrier with them on walks and runs. But if your cat is too nervous for that, he or she may be better at keeping your mind active. A laser pointer and a ball of string can often lead to some fun and amusing moments. And the simple joy of curling up on the couch with your kitty and a good book could help make reading and learning a more rewarding part of your day.

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