Adopting Adult Cats & Dogs
Getting a new pet is never a quick or easy decision. How do you know what pet is right for you? First you must figure out what your options are. There are purebreds, strays, rescues, puppies, kittens, and adults. That’s right, adult pets (pets over two years old) need homes, too. Just as with any animal, you must research its history, temperament, and breed. You may not have thought about adopting an adult pet, but after reading this article, perhaps you will at least consider it as an option.
Many people are afraid that adult pets will come with some behavioral problems. That may be true. Pets at animal shelters tend to be at a higher risk for issues like separation anxiety and food aggression (when an animal becomes defensively aggressive if you approach its food). However, not all pets have these difficult problems. There are many adult pets at shelters, and a vast majority of them are not difficult or bad, they are simply lonely. The best way to make sure the animal will not have any behavioral problems is to learn its history and spend time asking about its personality.
Of course, all adult pets, just like adult humans, have personality quirks. Maybe the cat needs vigilant cleaning of the litter box, or the dog doesn’t get along well with other dogs. Any of these personality traits can develop and exist in a pet whether you owned it since it was little or welcomed it into the house as an older pet. A puppy or kitten is not exactly a blank slate. You can influence its manners and control its personality to a certain extent, but you will never be able to exactly dictate the type of animal it will become. Even the influence that you have comes only with hard work and vigilance.
The thing is, when you have an older pet, at least you already know its personality. There will be no surprises that arise, as can sometimes happen with a young pet. When you first get your tiny new puppy or kitten, you have no way of predicting whether it will be calm, neurotic, hyper, loud, friendly, or shy. You can guess based on its breed and the temperament of its parents, but there is no guarantee. When you adopt an adult pet, you will know straight away what kind of personality and energy level you going to be dealing with.
On that note sometimes adult pets suit your lifestyle better than a puppy. Are you an older person? Do you have limited time? Just like kids, young pets need constant supervision and patience. They will need to be potty-trained and will interrupt your day constantly for crucial socialization. Puppies and kittens don’t come with manners; they don’t yet know the rules and roles of hierarchy and the human world. Their attention span is incredibly short, which can make them cute and frustrating at the same time. Also, the first year of life is often the most expensive with vaccinations, dewormers, check-ups, etc. On the other hand, with older adult pets you have to consider potential expensive geriatric issues like kidney disease and diabetes. However, these are issues that you would eventually deal with if you got a young pet anyways.
One common misconception is that an adult pet will never bond with you or your family the way a young pet, who has spent its whole life with you would. It might take time for an adult animal to learn to trust, respect, and bond with you. However, it also takes a young animal some time to adjust to a life without its mother and littermates. You may be surprised to learn that often the pets with the strongest bond to their owner are adult rescues. They are so strongly attached to their owner that, as mentioned above, they can have more of a predisposition for separation anxiety.
When you adopt a pet, you get the satisfaction that you have saved this animal from a life in a cage or no life at all. When you adopt an adult pet, you get the opportunity to show an animal love, an animal that may have suffered abandonment, abuse, or loneliness. Animals may not think the way humans do, but they still somehow manage to show us their appreciation for the new start that we give them.
As always, when you are thinking about getting a pet, do your research. Consider the time and effort you are willing to put into a pet. When you look at different breeds, determine what personality quirks are you willing to tolerate. Are you willing to have a high-energy pet? What about a vocal, attention-needy, or protective pet? There is nothing wrong with wanting to adopt a kitten or puppy, and to enjoy those younger years. The benefits adopting an adult pet however, may be better suited to your lifestyle.
By Ashley O’Driscoll – Pets.ca writer