Updated: Nov 28, 2022
If you want to bring an animal into your home, it’s always a good idea to adopt. Before making the big decision, you must first ask yourself whether you are equipped to handle the commitment and responsibility. There are many aspects to consider before adopting an animal, here are some things to think about:
Research, Research, Research
Once the decision is made, you should begin your research. Read as much as you can about animal care and the stages in an animal’s life. Consider your living space and what it is suitable for in terms of animal size, energy levels etc. Educate yourself on your new friend’s diet and how you will provide it. Decide on a vet and locate your nearest pet shop for toys and other stimuli. Establish a structure into which you will introduce them.
Support your local shelters/rescue centers and search for a companion there, or visit online platforms such as Leaf Animals.
Everyone in your household must be onboard with the decision to adopt. Bringing an animal into your home is a commitment; animals are not a toy or an item to show off then cast aside when the novelty wears off. There needs to be the utmost commitment from all members of the household to care for the new family member since animals are sentient beings and deserve to be treated as such.
Are you a patient person? You have to ask yourself this question and answer it truthfully. Training generally takes time. Patience is required throughout the process since there are bound to be ups and downs, advancements and regressions. Sometimes an animal will spontaneously forget something they’ve already learned; if they are in a state of stress, they might not be as responsive to you. On occasion they will exhibit unwanted behaviours. This is all to be expected and is normal, hence the need for patience and consistency.
4. Be prepared to share your living space
Animals, like children, can be messy. Whether you decide to adopt a cat or a dog, you must be prepared and open to their presence in your home. This could mean hair on your sofa, pawprints all over your freshly cleaned floor or even damaged furniture. It might involve certain adjustments such as a baby gate to close off an area or learning to keep the bathroom door shut to avoid a mess. Animals are living creatures that take up both mental and physical space; this will have an effect on your daily schedule, routine and habits within your home.
Make sure that no one in the house is allergic to animals, or plan to become allergic in the future, once they are tired of having an animal in the house. If a family member is unsure of how they will react to an animal, take them with you to meet the animal before you decide to bring them home.
6. Are there children in your household?
Young children may become excited at the prospect of an animal living with them, but remember that toddlers may grab, hold, carry or play with an animal in an unfavourable way. Although unintentional, rough play may cause serious damage to both the animal and the child. Make sure that any child and animal are always supervised when they’re together. Dogs and cats may exhibit stress in subtle ways and learning about animal body language will help prevent any miscommunication between the animal and your child.
7. Introducing new animals to older ones
Cats and dogs are inherently territorial and in some cases, they may not like to have their space invaded by other animals. Therefore a proper introduction between the new animal and the one already in the household will be needed. With regards to dogs, a playdate in a neutral environment will help determine how they will get along. With cats, separating them for a couple of days, while allowing them to become familiar with each others’ smells will help prepare them for the actual meeting. You can learn more about safe introductions for dogs here and for cats here.
8. If you’re adopting to save money, think again
Technically, less money is spent when adopting an animal as opposed to buying, however the expenses on food, medication, vaccines, training (if needed), litter (if it’s a cat), toys, beds, boarding/sitting and licensing add up to a significant amount that one should be willing to put aside.
9. Looks are not everything
Remember that just because an animal is cute, it does not mean that they are the right fit for you. You need to investigate the animal’s character and needs, while also focusing on the animal’s behaviour and reactions towards you before you decide if they would make a good companion.
10. Making a promise
From the moment you make the decision to adopt, it is as though you are making a lifelong promise to that animal. It is important to realise how much they will depend on you for safety, security and love. Animals are habitual creatures and once they have become adapted to your lifestyle, it would be a challenge for them to change it. While adopting may be one of the best decisions you will make, it is also one of the biggest.