Sure, that puppy or kitten in the window is cute. Yes, they’re looking at you with pleading eyes. But that doesn’t mean you should take them home.
Will your potential cat require lots of grooming? Will she spend more time lounging in your lap or sprinting through the house, attacking dust bunnies? Will she be patient enough to deal with children?
Or, how large will your dog grow to be? Will he need to run for miles every day? Will he be likely to suffer from specific kinds of hereditary health problems? There are plenty of questions to consider before you snap on that leash and take your new pet home.
First, you should compare information on various breeds to know which kinds will be a fit with your household and your lifestyle. It’s true that there are an overwhelming number of breeds – there are dozens of cat breeds and over 150 dog breeds commonly recognized in the U.S. – but don’t worry; numerous books and websites have been written to help make this comparison relatively painless.
Make a list of the breeds that might be compatible with your family and use it as a guide while you check out pets that are available for adoption. Keep in mind, though, that general breed characteristics won’t guarantee the specific characteristics of an individual animal.
You’ll also find plenty of mixed-breed animals for adoption. Because these animals don’t conform to breed standards for behavior and physical characteristics, you’ll want to make a checklist of the qualities you’re looking for: Will your new pet need to be patient with young children? Get along well with other pets? Behave when left home alone for hours? When meeting potential pets at a shelter or adoption center, the people there should be able to tell you about the animals’ individual temperaments – be sure to ask lots of questions.
Also, think about whether you should adopt a full-grown animal versus a puppy or kitten. Little ones may be adorable, but they may also pose more problems. Will a member of your family be home to care for them until they can safely be left alone? Most shelter animals are full grown animals who have been around the block, experienced a few things, and may appreciate a good home even more.