Choosing to bring a pet into your life is an important decision. Adding a furry member to your family will change how you spend your time, your money, and you may even need to make changes to how your home is set up to accommodate your pet. So, if you’ve already evaluated your decision carefully and are ready to adopt a pet, the next step is deciding what type of pet is best for you and your family. Read to the end to take a customized quiz to help you narrow down your choice!
First Things First
No matter what type of pet you decide is right for your home–cat, dog, rabbit, reptile, young, old, big or small–always choose to adopt instead of “shop.” Even if you are looking for a specific breed of dog or cat, there are rescue groups that specialize in purebred animals of almost every kind. Remember that by buying a pet you supporting the inhumane breeding of dogs and cats and are denying a loving and deserving pet in a shelter the chance at a forever home. Adopting a rescue pet is one of the most rewarding things you can do in your lifetime and when you find your perfect match, you won’t regret it!
Cat or Dog?
Although we at FoMA love all types of animals, most pet owners fall into one of two camps: canine or feline. You likely have a good idea about which type of pet you want to adopt, however, each type of animal has distinct characteristics that are important to consider. Beyond your personal preferences, you should also ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I or anyone in my household have allergies, or have shown signs of allergies to either dogs or cats?
- Do I already have a pet in my household that would not mix well with a dog or a cat? For instance, a mouse might be easily ignored by certain types of dogs but could be problematic for a cat to coexist with!
- Do I have the time needed for the pet I am selecting? While both cats and dogs require daily time, affection and attention, most dogs need to take potty breaks outside regularly, while cats use litter boxes and can be left alone for longer periods of time.
- Do I want a pet who is more independent, or more needy for attention? While dogs and cats can certainly fall on either side of that spectrum, cats tend to be more independent while dogs are needier of attention and affection.
Big or Small?
If you’ve decided to adopt a cat, you’ll find that there is not a great deal of size variance among most domestic house cats. However, if you’ve chosen to adopt a dog, one of the most important things to consider is whether you want a small dog or large dog. You should consider first and foremost your living arrangement: if you live in an apartment or condo, or have a Homeowner’s Association with specific rules relating to pets, check to see if there are any weight or other restrictions on pets you are allowed to have. Secondly, consider the lifestyle you will have with your pet. Do you take long walks or runs or enjoy going to the dog park? If so, a larger, more athletic dog will likely be a good fit for you. Do you live with someone who is elderly or have a small space with limited access or time to spend outdoors? A smaller dog may be a better pet for you.
While shelters and rescues have dogs of all sizes, it is important to note that larger dogs have a harder time getting adopted and are more at risk for euthanasia. If you can give a home to a large dog, please do! You will find that they are just as affectionate as small dogs and typically like to be treated with all the affection of a “lap dog” no matter what their size!
Young or Old?
Almost everyone who goes to adopt a pet wants a young cat or kitten, or a young dog or puppy. The reasoning is certainly understandable–you want a lifetime with your pet and the more years ahead of you, the better! However, having a younger pet certainly comes with challenges. You may need to spend more time and money training your pet and forming better behaviors if they are young and younger pets also tend to have much more energy if not given proper stimulation or exercise. Older pets tend to be calmer and more mellow and their personalities are more fully developed. If your lifestyle is slower and more sedentary and you just want a cuddle buddy to hang out with you on the couch, an older pet could be a great choice for you and senior pets are often overlooked at shelters and rescues!
On the flip side, many older pets begin to develop more costly medical issues towards the ends of their life. If you adopt an older pet, you need to have a clear understanding of the type of medical care the pet will require and ensure you are financially prepared for those expenses. Of course, any dog or cat will grow old at some point, and even young animals can have unexpected medical conditions so always be prepared from a budgeting perspective to provide necessary medical care that may come up.
Personality and Chemistry?
One of the most rewarding things about adopting a shelter pet is getting to see their personality develop and watching them blossom into their true selves. Oftentimes, the dog or cat that you meet at the shelter is completely different from the pet you will have at home after a few months of decompression, love in your home. All this to say, don’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to selecting your pet. Sometimes the shyest shelter pets end up being the funniest and most outgoing animals at home and keep in mind the 3 3 3 rule: 3 days and your new pet is trying to figure out their new home and family; 3 weeks and your pet will have started to learn your routine and new family life 3 months and your dog will finally feel like part of your family
You should consider the chemistry you have with a pet when adopting. Talk to any “rescue parent” who has adopted a dog or cat from a shelter and they will probably tell you how they just “knew” that their special four-legged friend was the one. Whether you do an in person meet-and-greet, or see your pet virtually online, we are confident that you will know when the pet is the right fit for you.
Special Needs Pets?
Adopting a pet with special needs is one of the most rewarding things you can do. From special medical needs, to behavioral issues, many pets that find themselves in shelters got there because of neglect, abuse or mistreatment. One of the most common obstacles a pet faces when getting adopted is that the pet is not “cat friendly” or “dog friendly” — meaning that the animal needs to be the only pet in the home. If you don’t have any pets currently, and you are considering adopting just one pet, these pets can be an excellent fit for you as they are in dire need of adoption and often thrive in a loving, safe home environment.
For dog owners, this might mean that you can’t go to the dog park or do other social dog activities with your pet, but other than that, the pet can live a normal life with you at home, out on walks and with proper introductions, with others. If you are prepared to take on a dog-reactive or cat-reactive pet, you will truly be saving a life! Make sure you educate yourself about the special responsibilities that come along with adopting a behaviorally challenged pet and work with licensed professionals to ensure a smooth transition for the pet into your home.
Want more help narrowing down your choice? This quiz can tell you more about the ideal pet for you! https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/choosing-a-pet
To apply to adopt a pet, you can start right here on our website! Happy Adopting!