Adopting a pet is a great thing to do, but it’s also a decision that should not be taken lightly. If you rush into adopting a cat or dog without considering all the important aspects, you could run into some serious problems.
So what should you think about before rescuing a new pet? Here are the top six things to consider.
Will the charity allow you to adopt?
There are many different cat and dog rehoming charities in the UK, and each has its own requirements that adopters must meet. It’s worth reading up on these before falling in love with a cat or dog that’s up for adoption, as the charity may determine your lifestyle is not suitable for a pet. Many charities, for example, will not let you adopt a dog if you work full-time, or a cat if you do not have a garden.
To make sure you don’t get your hopes up for no reason, check the charity’s website first, or give them a ring.
Are you ready to commit?
A pet is for life; you shouldn’t adopt a dog for a week and then decide they’re not right for you. Remember that cats and dogs live between 12 and 18 years, depending on the breed. It’s a big commitment to make.
Not only that, but you need to ensure you have enough time to spend with your pet. If you travel a lot, or spend a long time away from the house each day, then it may not be a good idea to adopt a cat or dog. Both require a lot of love, care and attention – they are another member of the family, and should be treated as such. Sit down with the rest of the family and have a discussion to see if you have the time and heart to look after a new pet.
Is your home suitable?
High-energy dogs need a lot of room to run around in. If you want to adopt a Boxer, but only have an upstairs flat, the adoption centre may determine that this breed of dog is not right for you. Be honest about what sort of dog or cat you can accommodate before setting your heart on a particular breed. If you rent your home, check with the landlord that pets are allowed.
You should also consider the other members of your household. Young children often don’t get on well with puppies and kittens, as they’re not sure how to treat them. What the puppy or kitten thinks is a fun game can easily turn into a painful misunderstanding. This can lead the child to resent or be afraid of your pet, which will cause problems later on and make your pet feel unwelcome. Therefore, an older pet may be more appropriate.
Can you afford a new pet?
When it comes to owning a pet, it’s not just the cost of their food you have to think about. Cats and dogs both require toys, grooming, medication, vet appointments, beds, insurance, and of course food and treats. These all add up over time. In fact, People’s Dispensary Sick Animals (PDSA) estimates it costs £17,000 to own a cat over its lifetime, and between £16,000 and £31,000 to keep a dog.
Sit down and have a look at your finances first to determine if you can afford to give a pet a loving new home. Remember that certain breeds of dog will require more food than others, so if you want a Leonberger be prepared to spend a lot of money on food!
Will they get along with your existing pets?
As we all know, not all cats and dogs get along well with other pets. For example, you can’t rescue a dog and expect it to ‘get used to’ the cat that’s lived with you for eight years. If you don’t check the two can be friends first, the house can become a hostile environment. Your pets may fight, or one could become stressed. If your cat has started to live outside and shows signs of being unhappy whilst indoors, it may be your dog that’s causing that behaviour.
It’s worth noting that dogs tend to get on better with dogs that are of the opposite sex; although it’s not impossible for two female or two male dogs to live together. Do your research beforehand, and ask your chosen rehoming charity for advice.
Is your neighbourhood pet friendly?
Whether you live in a city or a more rural area may determine which pet is best for you. Some dogs and cats don’t like living in the city as the noise can stress them out. Each pet is different, so you need to find out as much about them as you can before making a commitment.
If you’re thinking about adopting a dog, you need to learn where your local parks are, and if they’re suitable for dogs. Cats require a safe place to roam too, ideally away from busy roads. Is there a local vet nearby? And do they offer a 24-hour emergency service? These are all things you need to consider.
Rescuing a cat or dog is a big decision, and there is a lot to think about. Remember, even if you’re not in the right position to adopt a pet today, it doesn’t mean you won’t be in a few years’ time. It’s best to wait until you are completely sure you can afford a new pet, and are able to give it the love and attention it deserves.