If you are considering adopting a dog or a cat, carefully consider whether you want a baby, an adult, or even a senior. Sure, puppies and kittens are awfully cute, but before adoption, consider the responsibilities:
- Puppies and kittens must be house-trained, which entails teaching them use the bathroom outside or in a litterbox; teaching them not to chew, scratch, or tear up your belongings; and teaching them basic obedience (puppies) or what the scratching post is for (kittens).
- Puppies and kittens require much more time from their guardians. While all dogs need exercise and walks, puppies require them in much greater quantities. While all cats deserve play time with their guardians, kittens will be more playful for longer periods, whether you are playing with them or not.
Health considerations when adopting a dog or a cat include:
- Puppies and kittens require more frequent visits to the vet, to complete vaccination series and attend to any ailments.
- Adult dogs and cats have stronger immune systems, and many serious illnesses have been effectively ruled out, or at least addressed with a stable medication schedule.
The following situations are difficult for puppies and kittens, as well as their guardians, but ideal for the right adult dog or cat:
- Someone who works all day and wants a canine companion to play with in the evenings. Adult dogs also need exercise and companionship, but many breeds can adjust to a guardian who works full time.
- Someone who wants to wind down after work by stroking or playing with a cat. A kitten may be too rambunctious here, and if the person works full time, may destroy belongings due to unsupervised play.
- Someone looking for a buddy to walk or run with at the park. A puppy needs training to run or walk on a leash, and to stay close to their guardian. An adult dogs may already be trained or be easier to teach.
- A responsible child who wants a friend to play with, and perhaps train for obedience. A kitten or puppy may demand too much of a child's time, as they need to socialize, learn, and play with other children. An adult cat or dog may be perfect. And, you can teach an old dog new tricks - it is usually easier than teaching a playful puppy.
What other benefits can you get by choosing to adopt an adult dog or cat instead of a puppy or kitten?
- Most adult cats are litter-trained and often scratching post-trained.
- Many adult dogs already know basic obedience, and are thus more receptive to further training.
- An adult dog or cat has already developed a recognizable personality, so finding the right dog or cat for you and your lifestyle is easier. A puppy or kitten needs to grow into its eventual personality, and while the environment does play a role, other factors can affect playfulness, shyness, dominance, attachment, etc., and the result may not be what you had hoped for.
- If you choose to adopt from a foster organization, the organization can match your needs and desires with the personalities and behaviors of adult dogs and cats in their foster network. For instance, you may require a dog that is content to lounge around the house most of the day, or want a cat that will get along with other cats and dogs.
- Also, if you adopt an adult dog or cat, they usually have already been checked by a vet and spayed or neutered. Plus, many organizations require that the dog or cat be returned to them if the adoption does not work out, so a match gone awry does not require finding a new home.
- "Take a Second Look: Consider Adopting an Adult Cat or Dog" from the Humane Society of Central Illinois: http://www.hscipets.org/tipgen18.htm
- "Reasons to adopt an adult dog from a shelter or rescue group" from PetOrphans: http://www.petorphans.com/used.html
- "Adopting a Second-Hand Cat" from Kitten Rescue Online: http://www.kittenrescue.org/second-hand.htm
Although the following will not apply always, they are true in most cases.
- Kittens and puppies act like kittens and puppies - with an adult, you can evaluate the animal's actual personality.
- No housebreaking.
- Teething issues, such as chewing, are in the past.
- What you see is what you get - an adult dog will not grow 6 inches and gain 50 pounds.
- Adults usually will sleep through the night - they'll adjust to your schedule.
- An adult may be more appropriate for your home situation - for example, a kitten and a small child aren't necessarily safe for each other; if you're a single person who works, an adult dog won't need a walk in the middle of the day.
- Most adult animals are playful, but not constantly so - they are companions, with a more constant energy level.
- You CAN teach an old dog new tricks.
- An adult cat won't climb your curtains.
- You will save a life.