Choosing Pets for the Sandwich Generation

Are you considering adopting a pet into your family? While pets aren’t maintenance free, if you choose the right one for your family the rewards will outweigh the work. If you are part of the sandwich generation, adding a new addition can teach responsibility to the kiddos while giving everyone in the family, including your elder, an extra companion to love on.

What type of pet?

The right pet will be one that all members of the family can enjoy and share responsibility for. When choosing your new family member, keep in mind how big the pet will grow, what type of care is involved, long-term costs, and most importantly, allergens. If you suspect your loved one may be allergic to a certain type of pet, speak with your doctor about allergy testing before you sign on the dotted line and make a commitment.


Pros: A cat can be a great pet for family members of all ages. They are furry, cuddly, and can help make sure that you don’t ever have a rodent problem. All a cat needs is food, water, a litter box, a few toys, a cat scratching post, and some TLC. Unlike dogs, you don’t have to walk them, take them to obedience class, or give them quite as much attention. They are loving pets that will rub against you for attention, hop up in laps, and expect to curl up with you while you read.

Like dogs, they require vaccinations, which can typically be taken care of annually. Your cat will also need to be spayed or neutered. Save on some of the costs by adopting an adult cat that has previously been fixed and had the majority of their vaccinations. The first year of a cat’s life can be wild, and adult cats are much more likely to be calmer and more kid friendly.

Cons: Oh the litter box, the smelly stinky box that requires daily maintenance. These boxes obviously contain germs and bacteria, but they are especially dangerous to pregnant women. If you go with a cat, make sure that this box is accessible to the kitty but not to toddlers. Teens can learn responsibility by making sure it is scooped out daily and changed completely when needed, but this is not a job for expecting mamas or younger children.

Scratching is another cat con. Scratching their claws comes naturally to felines, and they may scratch the furniture, the rug, the bedposts, and anything else that looks fun. Deter cat scratching by getting cat scratching posts and putting them around the home in kitty’s favorite areas.


Pros: Dogs are loyal! They become attached to their adoptive family and become very protective. They are playful, they can learn tricks, and are great companions for kids and senior citizens. They need food, water, a little training, lots of love, and exercise. If someone in the family has a pet allergy, a few dog breeds are even hypoallergenic!

Dogs can be trained to help elders with daily tasks, like fetching the paper or alerting a hearing impaired senior citizen to the doorbell. Dogs are also GREAT pets for teaching kiddos responsibility. They can be in charge of feeding Fido, walking him, giving him a bath, and even help to teach him basic tricks.

When choosing your perfect pup, consider the breed and do some research to make sure it is both kid friendly and elder friendly. Take size into consideration as well as the age of the pet. As with cats, adopting an adult dog can save you money if they have already had basic training, all of their puppy shots, and been spayed or neutered.

Cons: Dogs need lots of exercise and attention. A bored or lonely dog is more likely to dig in the trash or tear up furniture. If this pet is for your elder, and your elder is not able to give the dog the exercise they need, someone else will need to walk the dog daily. Certain breeds will also need trips to the groomer.

Late night barking can also be a con for dogs, but by figuring out why your dog is barking you can easily get it under control. Some dogs bark at night simply because they didn’t get all of their energy out during the day. Dogs may also need training by a pet professional to learn things, curb aggressiveness towards strangers, or to break bad habits.


Pros: Birds are smaller and are usually housed in a cage or perch, as opposed to pets that roam free throughout the home. Kids and elders enjoy talking to birds, feeding them, petting them, or even having them perched on their shoulder while they do daily tasks. Certain breeds are excellent for elders and kiddos, and some can learn tricks or even mimic speech.

Cons: While they don’t require the exercise or attention that a dog needs, birds still have the cleanup needs of a cat. Their cages can get dirty quickly, and may smell if the paper isn’t changed often enough.

Another con of birds is that they may get excited when their cage door is open and escape. Make sure that all of your house doors and windows are close anytime the cage is opened to prevent your feathered loved one from making an escape outdoors.

As with any other pet, you must watch small children closely while they interact with birds. These animals are smaller and can be injured easily, even by a loving child who was just trying to play.

Does your family have THE perfect pet? Leave a comment and let us know the details about your amazingly adorable little family member. Do you know of another pet that is great for both elders and children? Let us know! We LOVE comments!

Photo courtesy of Darwin Bell.

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