Give the Gift of Life
Since spring seems to be a time of puppies and kittens, I have decided to start a drive to adopt an “older pet.”
Adopting an older pet can bring many rewards along with a great many benefits.
You will not only be saving a life, but saving yourself all the hard work of raising a “baby”.
Granted there are some “cons” to go along with the “pros,” but the end result will enrich you and your family’s life.
Older cats and what I mean by older, are cats that are over the cute kitten stage and are now adults, that have lost their homes for a variety of reasons.
Mature cats for some reason have a terrible time finding new homes, as most people are in the cute kitten frame of mind.
With an older cat you have a chance to see its personality and how it reacts to new people.
Shelter cats live in a stressful situation, as they are suddenly deprived of their homes and find themselves living in a cage, instead of having the life they were used to.
An older cat has gone through the running up and down the drape phase and is less interested in climbing on top of the refrigerator and for the most part has become quieter.
That does not mean they are not playful and full of life, it just means that they have a calmer understanding of what life is all about.
The transition time for an older cat to feel at home is usually fairly quick, that is if it is an “only cat” in the household.
They need love, support, a convenient litter box, proper food and a routine to get used to. Cats need and enjoy a routine kind of life.
If you are bringing an older cat to a multi cat household, it will of course, take time to acquaint all the members of the cat family, using the proper techniques.
If you are not familiar with the introduction technique, please read my web page on Bringing a Second Cat Home.
Before you decide on a older cat take time to get to know them at the shelter. Most shelters have rooms where you can interact with the pets, in order to get a feel for them.
Most cats during the first few minutes may act wary and afraid, but give the kitty a chance. Remember, its life has been turned upside down.
However, if kitty remains aloof and scared, it is best to find another one, as that one may never become the “family cat.”
Senior cats are another good choice, they may have lost their homes due to the death or illness of their owner.
Seniors may bring with them a little more responsibility, as with age, problems can occur (just like us,) but the rewards of love and affection from the furry person remain the same.
In general cats have significantly less behavioral problems than dogs, as most cats really just want the normal family life style. Once in a while, if you have a multi cat household, a dominant male or female can cause problems within the group, whereas with an “only cat” household you would never notice the dominant factor.
If you are in the market for a kitten, think about a shelter cat, you will be pleasantly surprised.
While older cats have a hard time getting adopted, older dogs do not seem to have that problem.
I have tried in my mind to come up with a reasonable answer as to why and I have not been able to.
The most reasonable thought is dogs really show off their personalities, while cats are just laid back and quiet.
Adopting an older dog has many advantages, it is most likely housetrained, has gone past the “chew everything in sight” phase, has already been spayed or neutered and requires a little less attention than a puppy.
Dogs are in shelters for many reasons, some for behavior problems, some just got lost and their owners are still looking for them, some owners just lost interest in them and there are a zillion more good and not so good reasons for abandonment.
We are not here to discuss all the reasons why, we are here to convince you that adopting an older dog is a wise thing to do.
However, in the midst of it being a wise thing to do, you also need to be wise while doing it.
When considering adopting an adult dog, there are several things to take into consideration before you commit.
Most dogs in a shelter are very excited to see real people and that is a good sign, one of the most important things when looking for a puppy or an adult dog is that it is interested in you.
A dog that shows no interest may be a potential problem dog with either emotional problems or health problems.
A healthy dog should have a shiny coat. However, a dull coat could mean the dog is feeling stressed out due to the fact he/she is in a shelter.
If all other things check out, a good home will restore the sheen to its coat.
There are a few more thing to check for besides a dog’s coat and personality. Look for signs of diarrhea, discharge coming from either its eyes, nose or ears, along with its teeth for tartar build up and gum disease.
Find out as much as possible as to why the dog is at the shelter. The full story may never be known, but kennel workers should be able to give you some idea of the behavior at the kennel.
Here are a few reasons a dog may have been taken to the shelter:
lack of socialization
escapism (prone to running away)
no obedience training
death or illness of owner
divorce in family
novelty of ownership wore off
If you are a committed dog person, most if not all problems, with patience can be corrected.
If medical problems are apparent, ask the shelter if they will have the dog checked over by a vet, to see what is actually wrong, offer to pay half the bill, if necessary, providing it is a dog you are really interested in.
Most older dogs even the ones with behavior problems can become good companions as long as you have the love, time and patience to give to them.
Most shelter animals are diamonds in the rough that just need a little polishing and the right owner/owners.
This spring, if you are “pet inclined” take a trip to the wild side of the world and visit an animal shelter.
Maybe, just maybe, you will find the best ever pet, sitting in a kennel cage.