NCIS Star Pauley Perrette Uncovers the Secret to Animal Longevity
10/14/2011 AT 05:00 PM EDT
Perrette, best known for her role as forensic specialist Abby Sciuto on the hit CBS show, has shared her home for 10 years with two senior rescue dogs: Cece, a brain-damaged rat terrier-Chihuahua mix, and Little Joe, a mix of corgi, dachshund and Chihuahua who's "probably about 237 years old."
"I'll tell you the secret: It's because I talk to them all the time," Perrette told PEOPLE at this month's American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards presented by Cesar Canine Cuisine. "I really think it's talking to them all the time and giving them that kind of love. They want to stay."
The actress recently lost a cat, who died at the age of 20. "He was the love of my life, my soldier," she said. Another of Perrette's cats lived to be 24 years old. In addition to talking to her kitties, she kept them indoors.
Fortunately for Perrette, the benefits are mutual. Her dogs help her stay active and healthy, she said. "They will keep you moving and keep you walking. That's my green way of staying fit: having animals."