What should I consider before adopting a pet?

The fact that you’re thinking about adopting from an animal shelter means you’re a responsible and caring person. But before you make the decision to bring a furry friend into your life, take a moment to consider these things:


  • Is a cat the right pet for you? Your cat will depend on you throughout its life and, with proper care, may live 15 years or more. Are you willing and able to care properly for them and provide a stable home for that long?
  • Don’t get a cat without considering and planning for the costs for such a responsibility. Normal veterinary care includes spaying or neutering, yearly shots, and boosters and examinations for typical diseases. Preventative and consistent care is less expensive in the long run. Normal costs could run between $100 and $300 a year.
  • If you cannot afford veterinary care for a cat, you should not get one. Other normal costs include cat food, cat litter, litter pans and scoops, cat toys, scratching posts, etc.
  • Most changes in your life shouldn’t affect your ability to give your cat a good home. There are people who think they must give up a cat when they move. That’s not the case at all; it is relatively easy to move with a cat, even if you’re moving across the country or overseas.
  • Okay, so your budget and your lifestyle make a cat a good pet option for you. Now you have to decide what kind of cat is best for you. Are you looking for a very active, playful cat? Do you need a cat who will be gentle with children or elderly people? Do you need a cat who won’t be frightened by a barking dog? Or are you looking for a cat who is calm and affectionate, that will nap on your lap, or sleep in your bed at night?
  • Consider adopting an adult cat. An adult cat already has a fully developed personality, so you know what you’re getting. Adult cats generally adapt just fine to new homes and bond just as strongly with new families as kittens do. Kittens require more care and observation, they may need to be litterbox-trained, and they require several trips to the veterinarian for vaccinations and check-ups. In addition, it is difficult to predict what a kitten will turn our like when it grows up.
  • Make sure all family members are in agreement about adopting. Your cat will become part of your family and as such will interact with all other family members. Cats value their independence and may not be suitable pets for young children.


  • Why do you want a dog? It’s amazing how many people fail to ask themselves this simple question before they get a dog. Adopting a pet just because it’s “the thing to do” or because the kids have been pining for a puppy usually ends up being a big mistake. Don’t forget that dogs may be with you 10, 15 or even 20 years.
  • Do you have time for a dog? Dogs cannot be ignored because you’re tired or busy. They require food, water, exercise, care, and companionship every day of the year.
  • Can you afford a dog? The costs of pet ownership can be quite high. Licenses, training classes, spaying and neutering, veterinary care, grooming, toys, food, and other expenses add up quickly.
  • Are you prepared to deal with special problems that a dog can cause? Flea infestations, scratched-up furniture, accidents from animals who aren’t yet house-trained, and unexpected medical emergencies are unfortunate but common aspects of dog ownership.
  • Can you have a dog where you live? Many rental communities don’t allow dogs, and most of the rest have restrictions. Make sure you know what they are before you bring a companion animal home.
  • Is it a good time for you to adopt a dog? If you have kids under six years old, for instance, you might consider waiting a few years before you adopt a companion. Dog ownership requires children who are mature enough to be responsible. If you’re a student, in the military, or travel frequently as part of your work, waiting until you settle down is wise.
  • Are your living arrangements suitable for the animal you have in mind? Animal size is not the only variable to think about here. For example, some small dogs such as terriers are very active – they require a great deal of exercise to be calm, and they often bark at any noise. On the other hand, some big dogs are laid back and quite content to lie on the couch all day. Before adopting a pet, do some research. That way, you’ll ensure you choose an animal who will fit into your lifestyle and your living arrangements.
  • Do you know who will care for your dog while you’re away on vacation? You’ll need either reliable friends and neighbors or money to pay for a boarding/kennel or pet-sitting service.
  • Will you be a responsible dog owner? Having your pet payed or neutered, obeying community leash and licensing laws, and keeping identification tags on your pets are all part of being a responsible owner. Of course, giving your pet love, companionship, exercise, a healthy diet, and regular veterinary care are other essentials.
  • Finally, are you prepared to keep and care for the dog for his or her entire lifetime? When you adopt a dog, you are making a commitment to care for the animal for his or her lifetime.

Sure, it’s a long list of questions. The majority of the dogs and cats in our program were abandoned or homeless, victims of irresponsible people who didn’t think through the responsibilities of pet ownership before they got an animal.

Please, don’t make the same mistake. Think before you adopt. Sharing your life with a companion animal can bring incredible rewards, but only if you’re willing to make the necessary commitments of time, money, responsibility, and love – for the life of the pet.