Adopting an animal can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, or it can be the biggest mistake of your life. Before you bring home that cute little playful kitten or squirming puppy, you need to ask yourself some questions and do some research. Unfortunately shelters across America are full of animals because people rush into pet adoption before they know the facts or are ready. Animals require a lot of time and money. If you are low on either, maybe you should reconsider your decision.


If you get a puppy or dog, there is a good chance you will have to house train him. This takes an incredible amount of time and patience. Kittens and cats are usually easier to litter train (in my experience), but you have to be ready for a few accidents. And if the litter box is not clean, most cats will not even go near it, so expect messes elsewhere. Cats and Dogs will need food and water every day, along with companionship. You can’t just ignore them (or at least mine won’t let me). If you do not have the time or patience for this, I would suggest you skip the dog or cat and get a fish. Fish require care, but not nearly as much as a cat or dog.

Dogs and cats are expensive. Luckily, if you adopt from a shelter, your pet will already be spayed or neutered. Your pet will need to see a vet on a regular basis; in most area’s it’s actually a crime to withhold vet care in some situations. Cat litter, pet food, toys, licenses, grooming, etc add up fast. I have 3 cats, 2 litter boxes, and spend around $20 on litter a week. That’s a lot of money for some people. There are cheaper litters, but I prefer my brand for quality. I tried some of the cheaper brands and could just not stand the smell of my house. The ASPCA estimates that a small dog costs an average of $400 a year, not including the initial $180 for spaying, collars, carriers, etc. A large dog costs an average of $800 a year, with an initial cost of up to $400. A cat costs an average of $500 a year with an initial startup of $140. If your pet gets fleas or ticks, could you afford vet care to take care of the problem? My dog is actually allergic to fleas, so if she gets them, she has a bad reaction and has to go to the vet for shots. My sisters cat had cysts that had to be removed by a vet. If your dog has an emergency like these, can you afford or will you be willing to take care of the problem? How will you handle it if your new puppy chews up your couch or new pair of shoes? I would be prepared for this. Pets are like 2 year old kids.

If you are renting, find out if you are allowed to have pets! It amazes me how many people go out and get a cat or dog, and then find out from their landlord that it was in the lease that they aren’t allowed to have pets. More often than not, those dogs and cats are dropped off. Be responsible. If you do not own the house or property where you live, ask if you are allowed to have pets. Many landlords will allow you to have pets if you pay a pet deposit (a certain amount of money that will cover any damage your pet does).

In the case of an emergency or if you go on vacation, who will care for your pet? Do you know a responsible person who will step in and care for your animals if you are unable to? This is a very important question to ask yourself before you bring home an animal.

If after reading this, you are confident in your ability to provide a home to a pet, i would suggest going to www.petfinder.com. You can search pet type, location, breed, age, etc to find the perfect pet for you (and you’d be saving an animal from a shelter). If you fall in love with a Yorkshire terrier, do a little research before you adopt. Research what kind of special needs this breed might have or common health problems these dogs get. Are they barkers, chewers, or runners? You’ll need to know these things before you get him home. For example, my jack Russell terrier chewed everything when he was a puppy. He even destroyed my coffee table by chewing the leg off one day. I learned pretty quick to have a large bag of chew toys (he would destroy even the best chew toy in a matter of hours). He’s gotten better, but he still loves his squeakies. If you live in an apartment, a dog that barks a lot probably isn’t for you. I would not trade my cats and dogs for any amount of money. They have become my best friends who are always there for me. I hope you find an animal that does that for you. Good luck.

Are You Ready to Adopt Cat, Dog?