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is the right time to adopt”
Every pet has a history, no
matter how young or how old. Some animals come
with details about their backgrounds, and some
have histories that remain mysterious. A pet of
any age can bond with the people who love and
care for him, giving as much to the
relationship as he receives in return. Some
animals may have very negative memories of
humans who mistreated them, and need extra time
to adjust and to learn to trust. The majority
of adult cats and dogs, however, can bond with
their new families as deeply as puppies or
kittens raised from babyhood.
If you’re looking for a
pet with certain personality traits, it’s
more likely that you’ll find the right
companion to fit your lifestyle if the
candidate is at least six months old. If you
don't have the patience or energy for a
teenager, you should consider an adult dog or
cat that is at least one year to eighteen
months old. Dogs and cats this age learn
quickly, have more coordination and control
over their physical functions, and have more
You must first decide if you
have the time, energy, space and money for a
pet – it’s a huge commitment.
You then need to determine whether a baby
animal or a mature pet is more appropriate for
your lifestyle and your expectations for this
new member of the family.
To help you weigh the "pros" and
"cons" of adopting a dog or cat versus a puppy
or kitten, ask yourself these important
- How much time do you spend
at home on an average day?
kittens need more physical and emotional
involvement with their people than you can
give if you are away from home more than six
hours a day . Most adult pets can
easily adjust to your schedule, however, they
also need time to learn what is expected of
them. Some dogs never grow accustomed to
being left alone. If all of your family
members are away from home more than eight
hours most days, a dog may not be the
appropriate choice for your household, and
you might want to consider adopting an adult
cat (or two) instead.
- Are there children in my
home? How many? How old?
While many families think they want "a pet
for the children," it actually takes a very
special combination of parent/child/pet to
have a successful relationship. If the child
is under six years old, the pet should be
over four months old. Puppies and kittens
play roughly, and without careful supervision
and training, both your child and your pet
could have a bad experience with potentially
- An adult pet is usually past
the stage of becoming overly excited, and you
can better gauge how hardy and tolerant
he’ll be toward childish enthusiasm.
It’s your responsibility, to your pet
and to your child, to monitor their
interaction. You can help to strengthen the
relationship between your pet and child by
showing your respect for your pet’s
needs and feelings. Teach by example that
your pet is an important family member, not a
"plaything" to be neglected and tossed away
when no longer new and exciting.
While a family pet offers
children a wonderful opportunity to learn about
caring and responsibility, regular pet-care
duties need to be carefully supervised by an
adult. A child should never be solely
responsible for a pet. You also need to keep in
mind that your child’s life and interests
will change over the next ten to 15 years. The
ultimate responsibility for a pet’s care
and safety is that of the adults in the
- Will this pet be a
companion to another pet?
best to introduce a younger animal to an
adult resident pet in your household, but not
too young. Your resident cat or dog may
respond to a very young kitten or puppy as
prey to be hunted. In addition, the older pet
may not like the constant bother and play.
Very young pets lack the social graces to
read your older pet's irritation and the
reflexes to escape if the situation becomes
tense. From four to 14 months old is a good
age range to introduce a puppy or kitten to
your adult pet.
If you would
like to help us, please use our secure site to make
Most pets like to have at least
one "buddy." You might want to consider
adopting a pair of adult pets that are already
accustomed to and attached to each other? Many
pets (especially cats) are surrendered to
shelters in "pairs" because their human
families are no longer able to care for them.
There are many benefits to keeping a pair
- Do I want a pet that will
participate with me in outdoor
If you want a dog to take hiking
and camping, to play ball or swim in the lake
with, or to train to catch flying discs, you
should consider a teenage or young adult dog.
For major outdoor activities a dog should be
a certain size and have natural hardiness.
Not all dogs (even retrievers) are naturally
inclined toward catching things. This is an
excellent example of finding the right
combination of traits to fit your particular
- In addition, dogs that are
involved in these types of activities must
have excellent manners, and you must be
willing and able to build a strong
relationship with your dog, including ongoing
obedience training. Many pets, like many
travel well. Some reasons for chronic
carsickness can be remedied, but if you
specifically want a pet to travel with you to
local activities or on short vacations, don't
expect miracles from a young animal. There is
no way to tell which pet will have the
stomach for it.
- Do I want a "lap-pet" that
will be physically affectionate and
Most puppies and kittens will
accept some physical affection, but they
don't all grow up to be pets that like to be
cuddled. This is another good example of a
specific personality trait, which if
it’s important to you, will be easier
to find in an adult animal.
- Do I prefer a certain
physical appearance, coloring or coat?
If you like big cats, shiny dogs or
fluffy coats, you can do some "educated
guessing" with a puppy or kitten, but you'll
still be guessing. By the time a cat or dog
is about six months old, these physical
traits will be clear, plus you’ll be
able to see what kind of personality traits
go along with the "package."
- How large is "too large"
for my lifestyle? If you’re renting
your "home," you’ll want to check the
pet policies in your rental contract or lease
-- especially regarding size limitations.
Puppies and kittens grow up, and believe it
or not, thousands of puppies and kittens lose
their homes each year because someone didn't
think about what their adult size might be.
If you have a specific size in mind for your
ideal pet, it’s not a good idea to
guess. By the time cats and most dogs are six
or seven months old, you can usually tell
what size they’ll be when they’re
fully grown. Many large dogs are surrendered
to animal shelters because they were cute,
little, fluffy puppies one week and big,
clumsy, enthusiastic teenagers the next. It
takes time to teach any dog basic manners,
like not to pull on the leash, not to jump on
people and not to play too roughly, and even
more time and patience with a puppy.
- You can benefit from someone
else's poor planning if you adopt an adult or
teenage dog, but only if you're willing to do
what they did not - teach him the difference
between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
This training may take weeks or months, but
it can begin very simply with a dog over six
months old that’s ready and able to
learn quickly, and has good muscular
coordination and some knowledge of social