Are you ready to adopt? (American Humane Association)

As soon as you enter an animal shelter, the temptation to adopt will be very great. That’s why it’s so important to consider whether bringing an animal into your life is right for you before any adorable faces find their way into your heart.
Far too many animals in this country are initially loved and then neglected or abandoned over time because owners decide — too late — that caring for pets is more responsibility than they actually want.
The truth is, adopting a companion animal is a big step — one that will affect your lifestyle for many years. Have you thought about how a pet will be completely dependent on you for his or her entire life? What will happen if you decide to move? And have you considered whether your lifestyle and personality would make you a better dog or cat owner?
Knowing that most dogs, with good care, can live to be 15 years or older, and most cats can live to be 18 years or older, it’s critical that you consider where you will be 15 to 18 years from now.
What major changes might happen to you during a pet’s lifetime? Marriage? Children? Are you willing to continue spending the time, energy and money to care for your pet when taking on new responsibilities like these? What will you do if your spouse or children can’t get along with the pet?
If you’re getting a pet for children you have now, how old will they be in 15 to 18 years? Will you still want this animal after the kids have grown up and moved out?
Have you previously owned a pet that didn’t live with you for 10 or more years? If so, what happened? What will you do differently with this animal to prevent the same thing from happening again?
“We’re moving” is one of the most common explanations given when owners leave their pets at a shelter. You can imagine how hard it is on an animal to be left behind. Before you adopt a companion animal, consider these factors.
Renting and pets – If you are a renter, it can be very difficult to find a landlord who will allow pets. If you own a pet, you’ll have to restrict your choice of apartments to those where animals are allowed, and an extra damage deposit may be required. A dog or cat that is neutered, tagged and well-behaved may help get a negative landlord in a positive mood. However, you must be careful that your cat doesn’t shred the drapes or scratch the walls, or that your dog doesn’t annoy the neighbors with constant barking.
Expenses – Moving with a pet can be expensive. If you don’t have a place to live lined up, you may have to board your animal at a kennel in the new area while you look around. If you fly to your destination, air freight charges, the cost of a sturdy pet carrier and the expense of a visit to the veterinarian for a health certificate all add up.
The hard truth – If you don’t want to deal with the difficulties or expense of moving with your pet, don’t adopt one in the first place. Save yourself the guilt and heartbreak of leaving part of the family behind, and save an animal the sadness and confusion of being rejected.

If you’ve weighed the pros and cons of companion animal guardianship and determined that you’re ready, congratulations! You are ready to begin the adoption process.

Adopting an Adult Dog or Cat

(Adapted from Labrador Retriever Rescue, Senior Dogs Project, and The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies)
  • Won’t I be adopting someone else’s problems? If the dog or cat were so wonderful, why wouldn’t they have kept him or her? Adult dogs and cats lose their homes for many different reasons….most of them having nothing to do with problems the animal has, but rather with those of the person surrendering the animal. Many folks think the dogs and cats who end up at shelters or in rescue are all genetically and behaviorally inferior. THAT IS NOT THE CASE! In addition, it is not uncommon for very expensive, well-bred dogs or cats to outlive their usefulness or novelty with folks who bought them on impulse and no longer want to take responsibility for them. Other reasons adult dogs and cats become homeless: death of a guardian….not enough time for the dog…… change in work schedule….. new baby…..need to move to a place where animals are not allowed…. kids going off to college…. allergies…. change in “lifestyle”…. prospective spouse doesn’t like dogs/cats.  All these reasons are taken from real case histories.
  • Top Ten Reasons to Adopt an Adult Dog
    • 10. In a Word – Housetraining. With most family members gone during the work week for 8 hours or more, housetraining a puppy and its small bladder can take awhile. Puppies need a consistent schedule with frequent opportunities to eliminate where you want them to. They can’t wait for the boss to finish his meeting or the kids to come home from after school activities. An adult dog can “hold it” much more reliably for longer time periods, and usually the rescue has him housebroken before he is adopted.
    • 9. Intact Underwear. With a “chewy” puppy, you can count on at least 10 mismatched pairs of socks and a variety of unmentionables rendered to the “rag bag” before he cuts every tooth. Also, you can expect holes in your carpet (along with the urine stains), pages missing from books, stuffing exposed from couches, and at least one dead remote control. No matter how well you watch them, it will happen – this is a puppy’s job! An older dog can usually have the run of the house without destroying it.
    • 8. A Good Night’s Sleep. Forget the alarm clocks and hot water bottles, a puppy can be very demanding at 2am and 4am and 6am. He misses his littermates, and that stuffed animal will not make a puppy pile with him. If you have children, you’ve been there and done that. How about a little peace and quiet? How about an adult dog
    • 7. Finish the Newspaper. With a puppy running amok in your house, do you think you will be able to relax when you get home from work? Do you think your kids will really feed him, clean up the messes, take him for a walk in the pouring rain every hour to get him housetrained? With an adult dog, it will only be the kids running amok, because your dog will be sitting calmly next to you, while your workday stress flows away and your blood pressure lowers as you pet him.
    • 6. Easier Vet Trips. Those puppies need their series of puppy shots and fecals, then their rabies shot, then a trip to be altered, maybe an emergency trip or two if they’ve chewed something dangerous. Those puppy visits can add up.  Your donation to the shelter, when adopting an adult dog,  should get you a dog with all shots current, already altered, heartworm negative and on preventative at the minimum.
    • 5. What You See Is What You Get. How big will that puppy be? What kind of temperament will he have? Will he be easily trained? Will his personality be what you were hoping for? How active will he be? When adopting an older dog from a rescue, all of those questions are easily answered. You can pick large or small; active or couch potato; goofy or brilliant; sweet or sassy. Our shelter can guide you to pick the right match. (Our shelter is full of former puppies, now adults, who became the wrong match as they got older!)
    • 4. Unscarred Children (and Adults). When the puppy isn’t teething on your possessions, he will be teething on your children and yourself. Our shelter routinely gets called from panicked parents who are sure their puppy is biting the children. Since biting implies hostile intent, we ask questions and usually find out the dog is being nippy. Parents are often too emotional to see the difference; but a growing puppy is going to put everything from food to clothes to hands in their mouths, and as they get older and bigger it definitely hurts (and will get worse, if they aren’t being corrected properly.) Most adult dogs have “been there, done that, moved on.”
    • 3. Matchmaker Make Me a Match. Puppy love is often no more than an attachment to a look or a color. It is not much of a basis on which to make a decision that will hopefully last 15+ years. While that puppy may have been the cutest of the litter; he may grow up to be superactive (when what you wanted was a couch buddy); she may be a couch princess (when what you wanted was a tireless hiking companion); he may want to spend every waking moment in the water (while you’re a landlubber); or she may want to be an only child (while you are intending to have kids or more animals). Pet mis-matches are one of the top reasons shelters and rescues get give-up phone calls. Good shelters and rescues do extensive evaluating of both their dogs and their applicants to be sure that both dog and family will be happy with each other until death due them part.
    • 2. Instant Companion. With an adult dog, you automatically have a buddy that can go everywhere and do everything with you NOW. There’s no waiting for a puppy to grow up (and then hope he will like to do what you enjoy.) You will have been able to select the most compatible dog: one that travels well; one that loves to play with your friends’ dogs; one with excellent house manners that you can take to your parents’ new home with the new carpet and the new couch. You can come home after a long day’s work and spend your time on a relaxing walk, ride or swim with your new best friend (rather than cleaning up after a small puppy.)
    • 1. Bonding. Adult dogs who have been uprooted from their happy homes or have not had the best start in life are more likely to bond very completely and deeply with their new people. Those who have lost their families through death, divorce or lifestyle change go through a terrible mourning process. But, once attached to a new loving family, they seem to want to please as much as possible to make sure they are never homeless again. Those dogs that are just learning about the good life and good people seem to bond even deeper. They know what life on the streets, life on the end of a chain, or worse is all about, and they revel and blossom in a nurturing, loving environment. Most adopted adult dogs make exceptionally affectionate and attentive pets and extremely loyal companions.
  • Top Ten Reasons to Adopt an Adult Cat – You’ve probably given some thought to what kind of kitten you want: Tuxedo or Calico, male or female, large breed or small. But have you considered adopting an adult cat? You may find that there are many more adult cats waiting for homes than kittens. Take a minute to think about it. You may be glad you did. Here are ten reasons why you should adopt an adult cat, instead of a kitten.
    • 10. What You See is What You Get. When you adopt an adult cat, you know what you are getting. Sure, kittens are cute, but you never know what the future holds. An adorable kitten could grow up to be a really ugly puss. This is a big risk. Go for the sure thing. Take a sweet-faced old Tabby.
    • 9. High Mileage Cats Still Run Great. Used cats aren’t like used cars. They aren’t at a shelter because they are defective or worn out. They may have simply outlived their former owners or been unable to join them at a hospital, nursing home, or new apartment. Some cats get lost and end up at a shelter. And many are brought to a shelter after a family member develops allergies, or an aversion to the family cat. (In those cases, it is the previous owner that is defective, not the cat.)
    • 8. Adult Cats aren’t as “chewsy”. Kittens are like human children: everything goes in their mouths. Whether teething or just exploring bits of the world around them, kittens can be very destructive little bundles of fur. Kittens chew on shoes, the corners of books, ear lobes, carpet tassels, electrical cords, drapery strings, plants, and much, much more. Adult cats typically chew less, if at all. They tend to save their energy for more important activities, like tormenting the neighbor’s Terrier.
    • 7. Kittens Stumble in Blindly, where Adult Cats Fear to Tread. Two well-known clichés about cats are: “curiosity killed the cat” and “cats have nine lives.” And curiosity usually leads to the loss of about eight of a kitten’s lives in its first year. Kittens tend to get into much more trouble resulting in accidents and injuries (see, for example, the reference to “chewing electrical cords” above). Kittens eat things they shouldn’t, fall from high places, unsuccessfully attempt to make friends with the neighbor’s tormented Terrier, and generally worry you half to death.
    • 6. Kittens are Lacking When it Comes to Licking. Few kittens have mastered the fine art of self-grooming. While adult cats may spend up to half their waking hours licking fur, kittens are just too busy enjoying life to clean themselves properly. When you consider that kittens are really just dust-mops with legs, and that they generally display marginal litter box etiquette, you might want to master the somewhat dangerous art of cat-bathing.
    • 5. Einstein Knew the Truth about Cats. The genius scientist Albert Einstein discovered an important relationship between mass and energy. He described it using the mathematical equation E=(MC)2. This equation means that your Energy level (E) is proportional to the Mass (M) of your Cat©, twice over. The equation basically shows that if you adopt a cat with more Mass, like an adult cat, your Energy level will be much higher than if you adopt a cat with a low Mass, such as a kitten. This is true because adult cats sleep more, play less, require less supervision, break fewer lamps, and don’t try to bite your toes through the blankets in the middle of the night. With an adult cat, you will sleep better, relax more, make fewer claims on your homeowner’s policy, and enjoy more Energy. There you have it. Are you going to argue with Albert Einstein?
    • 4. Kittens and Children don’t mix. Children can be rough on both cats and kittens, even when they mean no real harm. It can’t be helped. It’s just how kids are. When you tell a child that “cats always land on their feet,” the first thing the child will do is drop one from your rooftop to see if it’s true. Adult cats are better equipped to deal with pesky kids. They can generally escape from them, hide, and then contemplate revenge by moonlight.
    • 3. You Don’t Need to Teach an Old Cat New Tricks. Actually, you don’t need to teach a kitten tricks either, because the truth is that neither cats nor kittens allow you to teach them anything anyway. But new parents usually feel the need to try. Inevitably, they end up feeling guilt or failure when the kitten disregards them, jumps on the counters, unrolls the toilet paper, and engages in other acts of feline mayhem. If you adopt an older cat, you avoid all this emotional turmoil. Since you didn’t raise the cat, you don’t have to take responsibility for the cat’s shortcomings. Instead, you can blame the former owner and play the role of victim and saint for tolerating it all.
    • 2. Adult Cats don’t “Litter” as Much. Kittens play, sunbathe, build sandcastles, and even sleep in their litter boxes. And then there’s a game called “poo-hockey,” where a piece of dried waste is removed from the box and batted around the floor until it disappears under a major appliance or piece of furniture. People who adopt older cats happily miss this stage of feline development. Adult cats understand the purpose of a litter box and will usually cooperate with your efforts to keep theirs tidy.
    • 1. The most important reason to adopt an older cat is it might be their last chance. Many adult cats end up in shelters due to no fault of their own. Separated from their loved ones, surrounded by other strange cats, confined, confused, and sometimes frightened, many are emotionally devastated by their misfortune. Sadly for adult cats, most people who adopt gravitate toward the adorable, bouncy, big-eyed kittens. Older cats sit by and watch, as one loving family after another passes them over for a cute kitten from this season’s litter.
Kittens will always be popular, and most have no trouble attracting admirers. But for the abandoned, forgotten, and heartbroken adult cats, you just might be their last chance to have the love and warmth of a home where they can live out their years in comfort. Please consider adopting an older cat. When cared for properly, cats can live well into their late teens, and sometimes into their early twenties. Typically, they will remain active and playful throughout most of their lives. Some may need a little extra patience while adjusting to a new home, but once they feel safe and secure again, most will give you years of faithful companionship and unconditional love.