How to Choose the Right Pet For You
Cats vs. Dogs
Are you looking for a lovable, cuddly cat that will snuggle up against you at night? A pet that is easy to clean up after?
After all, burying their waste is instinctual (unless you adopt a Tiger!). Cats would do this long ago to hide the scent from larger animals, thus avoiding a territorial challenge. Usually, all you need is a litter box; they will take care of the rest.
Unlike dogs, cats aren’t ‘pack’ animals; they can usually care for themselves.
If you’re considering a present for your child, I certainly wouldn’t recommend the immense responsibility of a puppy; in many ways, they require the same attention as a human baby. Children are very seldom capable of providing that without help.
A kitten, on the other hand, is a more reasonable option.
Cats aren’t driven by the same things as dogs; your kitten probably won’t care how proud you are. Because they don’t possess the same affinity for praise, cats are vastly more difficult to train (as opposed to dogs) anything but the most basic of behaviors.
Cats possess far fewer taste receptors, as opposed to dogs. Meaning- they probably won’t find that treat as enjoyable, and probably won’t perform any number of tricks to receive it (if that is your goal).
You’ve seen those agility championships on television? The ones hosted by, say, Westminster or the American Kennel Club? Believe it or not, nearly every single dog alive has the potential to become a champion; the real test is in the handler’s ability to teach.
If you want to be able to teach your pet to perform impressive tricks, tricks most humans couldn’t even hope to accomplish (backflips, hurdles, etc.), you’re going to want to adopt yourself a dog! Though this level of training does take research and practice, it actually becomes easier than you could imagine once you grasp it.
Most of us could care less whether or not our dogs could track a human buried deep within snow from over a mile away, find a child lost amidst millions of acres of forest, or detect an intruder's approach before even the most sophisticated alarm system on the planet could, but these all fall well within Canine abilities.
You won’t find a cat on the face of this earth capable of any of those things (well, hearing perhaps, but hearing an intruder and caring enough to alert us are two different things!).
Things to Consider:
Don’t Impulse Buy
You remember that sweet, adorable little puppy in the store window, that sad looking one? The one bursting with excitement to meet and go home with you? Yeah, you know the one!
I know he is about the cutest thing in the world, and I know he needs a home just as badly as any other. Before you purchase him, however, there are a few things you should realize.
First- Pet stores often purchase their animals from large scale pet breeders (Puppy and Kitten Mills) because that is the cheapest outlet. These large scale breeders usually don’t provide adequate medical treatment for their animals; no- that would cost more money than they want to spend. People have spent thousands on ‘pet store’ animals, only to spend countless more just trying to keep them alive.
Know Where Your Pet Came From!
- Before you purchase, ask for paperwork and vaccination records. If the store/breeder can’t provide health records of the parents, move along.
Many sellers will say they will send records and paperwork in the mail. A responsible handler (any reputable businessman, for that matter) will have adequate paperwork prepared ahead of time; don’t be fooled. You might just never hear from them again.
If you choose to purchase a pet from a pet store, you may be indirectly supporting unethical breeding.
Second- Consider adoption. Over a million dogs (that number a few hundred thousand higher for cats) are destroyed annually in America alone due to lack of resources; the breeders I mentioned above ‘produce’ far more than there is a demand or room for.
Countless dogs and cats are sitting in shelters across the country, desperately needing your help.
Yes, I know about the stigma- shelter animals aren’t as ‘good’ as pet store animals. The truth of the matter is- shelter animals are legally required to receive proper medical treatment; if an animal isn’t healthy, it shouldn’t be adopted out.
Ever wonder why you might pay around $300 or more to adopt? You are paying for the animal’s medical care; the money has to come from somewhere.
Don’t be fooled; mills continue to operate legally across the United States due to the money they contribute to the economy; Congress is usually more than willing to turn a blind eye unless there is a significant public outcry.
Match Your Pet to Your Lifestyle
Both cats and dogs require commitment, but raising a puppy is an immense responsibility; many are returned to shelters because the owner isn’t prepared to provide the needed attention. The avg. owner wants a puppy, something he can raise from childhood; countless animals are adopted then returned months later because the handler wasn’t prepared.
Now that the dog is larger, the demand for it will often significantly decrease. That handler might have just condemned the animal to life in the shelter, or worse.
Don’t adopt a puppy unless you are prepared to make a lifelong commitment, even if raising the puppy proves a challenge or financial burden.
Research the breed requirements ahead of time. Example- raising a Jack Russell Terrier is going to be a Whole lot different than raising a Labrador Retriever; be sure you can provide an adequate environment.
Don’t purchase a puppy as a child’s present if you don’t plan on accepting most of the responsibility. Time and time again I see parents returning the dogs they adopted/purchased because their child didn’t provide the adequate care they said they would, and the adults aren’t willing to intervene. Intelligent animals, like dogs and cats, are living creatures and not simply ‘things’ you can get rid of when no longer convenient.
You can browse through both dogs and cats up for adoption throughout the US from the comfort of your own home by visiting Puppy Finder! Most rescues/shelters list their animals on this site; it is absolutely huge!
Once you find something you like, you can then go into the shelter and meet the animal for yourself, often even being able to submit an application ahead of time!