The holiday season isn’t usually the best time to bring a new pet into your family. Schedules are off, things are chaotic, and you probably won’t have the time to help your new dog or cat adjust to the changes. It’s also a time of year when people tend to adopt pets on a whim or for sentimental reasons. In fact, animal shelters take in numerous surrendered pets in early January for this very reason. However, if you’re certain that your family is prepared for the responsibility, we recommend waiting until after the new year to adopt.
Adopting a Pet is a Lifetime Commitment
The average lifespan of cats is 15 to 20 years and dogs typically live 12 to 15 years, according to the American Humane Association. Puppies and kittens age rapidly and quickly become adult and senior pets. Here are some questions to consider as you think about caring for a pet for life:
- Does anyone in the household have pet allergies?
- If someone living in your home doesn’t care for the pet, what do you plan to do?
- Do you expect your children to help you take care of the new pet? If they are not developmentally ready or fail to feed, play with, groom, and exercise the family dog or cat, will you willingly take over the duties?
- What is your current financial situation? Would it cause a crisis if your pet needed emergency care or surgery?
- Do your current living arrangements suit the pet you want to bring home? For example, a large dog needs a yard with plenty of room to run around outside. If you rent, does your lease allow pets?
- What plans would you make for your pet’s care when you go on vacation or travel for business?
- Will you commit to lowering pet overpopulation by spaying or neutering your pet as soon as possible? Keep in mind that dogs and cats need preventive care as well, such as routine immunizations.
- Do you have the patience to deal with behavior issues your pet might have such as a cat not using the litter box properly or a dog chewing up your personal belongings?
- Are you willing to spend time each day giving your pet one-on-one attention?
- Will the new pet spend a lot of time alone due to your family’s schedule?