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The benefits of adopting an older pet

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  • RSPCA Australia
  • Monday, 31 August 2020

During the coronavirus pandemic, while we’re all spending a lot more time at home, many Australians have taken the opportunity to bring a new puppy or kitten into their family.

In fact, as a result, there are widespread reports of a puppy shortage, with many hopeful adoptees being told they might need to wait for months. 

Adopting a new pet is a big commitment and something you should think carefully about – so as impatient as you might feel, hopefully a few month’s wait is something you’re prepared to handle.

Keep an eye on your local RSPCA animal rescue organisation too, as they often have puppies available for adoption, in many different breeds, sizes and types. There are also many breed-specific rescue groups, if you have a particular breed in mind!

However, a good adoption group is also likely to have many adult or older cats and dogs available for adoption as well. And while the cuteness of a puppy or kitten is very appealing, there are many good reasons why you might want to think about adopting an older animal instead.

You know what you’re getting

Remember, puppies and kittens are only young for a very short time. As they grow, their temperament and behaviour changes as well as their size! When you adopt an older animal, especially one that has been assessed by a good animal welfare organisation, there are generally fewer surprises – they can be a lot more predictable and a safer choice. In additional to knowing what the adult will look like (especially their size and coat length, for example) and what their personality is, any inherent health issues are likely to already be apparent and being managed effectively.  

Puppies and kittens can be a real handful!

Young animals can be a little challenging at times, and generally require a lot of time and attention. You can expect a few sleepless nights in the beginning; possibly some wayward nips, chews and scratches while they’re learning how to behave; and a number of clean-ups while you’re going through toilet training. You also need to dedicate time for good socialisation and obedience training.

Of course, any pet owner will tell you it’s all worth it in the end – but one of the benefits of adopting an adult or older pet is that a lot of the hard work has been done for you! They tend to be calmer, are already well-adjusted to family life, and have likely had at least some training. 

Many older animals are young at heart

If you think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, think again! Adult and older pets still love to play, and still need exercise and entertainment for their mental and physical wellbeing. Your new pet will likely be excited to join your family, and you can expect plenty of fun puppy or kitten ‘moments’ as they check out their new surroundings and get to know you.

An adult dog or cat will still have lots of energy, and can be a loving addition to your family for many, many years to come; while a senior pet is likely to be a little slower and a lot calmer, with plenty of wisdom and life experience hidden behind those grey hairs and whiskers.

It's a feel-good choice

It’s generally not too difficult to find a new family for a cute puppy or kitten. But animal shelters have plenty of sweetly tempered, beautifully behaved, healthy and active adult and older animals that are there through no fault of their own, and who are regularly passed over for younger pets.

Giving a well-deserved second chance to an adult or older pet can be a rewarding and valuable lesson to teach the younger members of your household, too.  When you adopt an adult or older pet, you really are giving a home to an animal in need, and you’ve very likely found yourselves a dedicated friend for life. 

To learn more about adult and senior pets (as well as puppies and kittens) available for adoption now, visit the RSPCA’s Adoptapet website at adoptapet.com.au.

*** This article was first written for and published by Australian Community Media (including in the Blue Mountains Gazette) ***

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