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If you are thinking a new pet is just what you need to make your house a home, you are not alone. Six in ten Americans have some sort of pet, with the majority bringing home dogs, cats, or both. Pets provide companionship and help add routine to their owner’s life. Scientists are not exactly sure why we love our pets so much, but it’s pretty undeniable that we do.

If you’re a first-time pet owner, you may be tempted to get exactly what you want from a breeder. While reputable breeders sell beautiful dogs and cats, there are several drawbacks. First of all, purebreds are very expensive. For instance, a French bulldog can cost anywhere from $1400 to $8000, depending on the breeder and your location. That’s just the price of the dog; when you purchase a dog you are also responsible for paying for its shots, having it fixed, training it, and other puppy expenses. Cats are arguably less maintenance, but they can still cost a pretty penny. A Siamese cat costs anywhere between $400 and $600 before kitten expenses. For this reason and more, it’s a great idea to consider adoption.

How to Determine the Right Pet for You

You may be a “dog person” or a “cat person” and know exactly what you want, but it’s important to consider some lifestyle factors before fully committing.

How large is your home?

If you live in a one bedroom apartment in an urban area, a large dog may not be right for you. Dogs need space to move and run freely, or else they’ll begin acting out around the home. A very small dog under 15 lbs might be best for you– chihuahuas are adorable and easy to find in shelters. However, small dogs still need to be let out often. If the idea of having to go home throughout the day to let your dog out is too restrictive for your lifestyle, consider getting a cat.

Cats’ personalities vary from shy and elusive to playful and affectionate. When you adopt an adult cat from the shelter, you can pick the one with the exact personality you want. You can talk to staff and volunteers about which kitties have the traits you are looking for, and meet with them several times before you take them home so you can get a feel of what you’re getting. You may find you’re a cat person, after all.

What do you like to do?

If you are an outdoorsy, active person and you’re looking for a companion animal to hit the trail, you could provide the ideal lifestyle for a larger dog in need of a good home. You don’t necessarily need a large home and yard to be a large dog owner. If you spend much of your free time going on runs, you could provide enough energy release for a medium to large-sized dog.

On the other hand, if you are a workaholic who often pulls overtime at the office then a dog may not be right for you at all. Cats are much less maintenance. They don’t need to be let out by a dog walker while you’re gone; as long as you maintain their litter box daily, they are fine. You can also buy an automatic feeder for your cat for those days when you are late coming home. Cats sleep 16 to 20 hours a day, so they are pretty great at entertaining themselves while you are gone.

Why Choose a Senior Pet

You’ve figured out what kind of pet best works for your home and your lifestyle so you may be ready to head to the shelter and pick out the first puppy or kitten you like. Pump the brakes; adopting a newly born dog or cat is not all it’s cracked up to be. They can be incredibly destructive around the home. They are not housebroken yet and accidents will–not might– happen. They are high energy and often exhaust their owners. Puppies also chew everything around the house while kittens are more likely to claw things to shreds.

On the other hand, senior pets have better manners. They are already housebroken and have lower energy levels that lead to less destructive behavior. When you adopt an older pet, their personality is pretty much already established. The shelter staff can point you in the direction of a dog or cat that will enjoy your home rather than destroy it. They tend to be calmer and more grateful for your affection. When adopting an older pet, what you see is what you get.  Be sure to prepare your home for an elderly pet by making the litter box easily accessible, adding non-slip rugs throughout your home and having a consistent place for food and sleep.

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Pets add life to a home and will provide affection for years to come. However, your initial idea of what you want from a pet may not be the best match for your lifestyle. Consider the size of your home and what you enjoy doing before committing on the kind of pet you want. Furthermore, while you may swoon at the cuteness of puppies and kittens, a senior pet is much more manageable with less maintenance. Whatever you decide to do, adopting a pet means you are providing a loving home for an animal in need. 

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