What to Consider Before Adopting One of These Five Pets

Wouldn’t it be nice if animal shelters and rescue groups no longer existed because all pets were part of a loving household? For that to happen, animal welfare workers say people will have to take more responsibility.

That includes researching to make sure they are adopting the right pet and committing to that animal for the rest of his or her life. Following are tips on what to consider before adopting one of these five pets:


Most cats available for adoption at shelters are either domestic longhair or shorthair. Instead of looking at the breed, potential adopters tend to make their choices based on temperament, color, age and size.

  • Experts at the Montgomery County Humane Society in Rockville, MD do not recommend kittens for households with children under six or with seniors. Kittens have sharp teeth and claws and if they feel threatened, may inadvertently injure a small child. Their claws can also pierce the delicate skin of an older person and cause infection.
  • Understand that shelter cats may be shy at first, but with love and patience, they learn to trust and can blossom into loving, playful companions. Also, while felines are more independent than dogs, they do need daily care, love and a stimulating environment to thrive.
  • Scratching is one of the most common complaints from people who own cats. Scratching is a normal, instinctive behavior and one that shouldn’t be discouraged completely, say experts at the HSUS. It’s important to understand this before adopting a cat and to research ways to redirect this behavior.


Finding the best dog for the family takes time and is not a decision to be made hastily. And while there are no guarantees that a dog will match a breed standard, researching breed traits will help in making a good decision, say experts at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT).

  • Consider seeking input from trainers, veterinarians or behaviorists before making a final decision. Important questions to ask include: How many children in the house? What ages are the children? How much time will family members be able to devote to the dog? How much space will the dog have? How much exercise will be provided? Can the family afford a dog? How much experience does the family have in caring for dogs?
  • Puppies require housetraining, socialization and basic training and are generally not a good choice for families with busy, hectic lifestyles, according to APDT experts. Older dogs are a better choice because they will likely be housebroken and have some training.
  • Shelter adoption counselors know the dogs in their care and can help potential adopters to make a good match. Some shelters will ask you to fill out a MatchMaker Information Form to help in choosing the best dog for your family.
  • Don’t get a dog to teach a young child responsibility and then expect that child to be the sole caretaker. A dog’s primary caretaker should be an adult.


As with all other pets, research is key to making the right decision before adding a feathered friend to the household. Birds are more adversely affected by smoke and gases than other mammals and special considerations must be taken to keep them safe.

  • Experts at the Real Macaw Parrot Club, NJ believe that larger birds like African Greys are not suitable in homes with younger children. On the other hand, little birds like finches, lovebirds, cockatiels and parakeets make excellent pets for children.
  • Before making a decision, attend a local bird club meeting where members are happy to share their knowledge. These experts can also serve as a support system once you adopt your bird.

boyandbirdImage credit: Thinkstock


Despite popular belief, ferrets are high maintenance pets and need almost as much time as dogs and cats. Be sure you understand what’s involved in caring for ferrets before finalizing the adoption.

  • If you are considering adopting a ferret, make sure your state and municipality will allow you to keep these animals as pets and if you need a special permit.
  • Ferrets are susceptible to adrenal gland tumors and pancreatic tumors—both conditions require surgery. Families who adopt ferrets need to be committed to their healthcare.
  • Young ferrets need to be taught how to play with people as they can be nippy or even bite if not handled properly as kits (young ferrets). They are not considered good pets for children 7 and under.
  • Ferrets cannot share a home with mice, guinea pigs, hamsters or rabbits because their instincts will be to kill these pets. Some dog breeds – for example, rat terriers – will see ferrets as prey and do not live well together.


Reptiles and amphibians require very specialized care. Education is an absolute must before bringing them home. They often have very specific heat and humidity requirements as well as dietary needs. It can also be difficult to find a veterinarian qualified to care for these pets.

vetwithreptileImage credit: Thinkstock

  • Despite popular belief, reptiles and amphibians are demanding pets that require expensive equipment and plenty of space, according to experts at the Goochland Animal Clinic in Maidens, VA.
  • If you decide a reptile or amphibian is right for you, be sure to adopt a homeless pet so that you are not contributing to the abuse of exotics in the black market. Also, research local and state laws about any special licensing requirements before adopting an exotic pet.
  • Reptiles and amphibians carry Salmonella, a bacteria that is harmful to humans. Because of this bacteria, they are not suitable pets for young children, anyone with an immunodeficiency disorder, pregnant women, elderly people or anyone in poor health, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy patients.
  • Remember 6-inch iguanas grow into 5 or 6-foot-long lizards with jaws capable of biting off fingers. Little Burmese pythons and boa constrictors can grow in excess of 10-feet-long and can easily become too large for one person to handle.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W11 months ago


Sophie M
Past Member about a year ago

thank you

Joy T
Joy Tabout a year ago

Great info.!!

Peggy B
Peggy Babout a year ago

Good advice

Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

Good article with useful advices thanks for sharing

Lesa D
Past Member about a year ago

just a thought: if you are planning to adopt, please adopt from a shelter ~ save a life!
or two! i've always adopted two kittens at a time...
even better! consider adopting an older animal ~ you become an Angel! like my Mom! she has been doing this for the last 25 years... while it is hard to say good~bye sooner, while her Boys are with her, they live the BEST life possible! i've always told her that when i die i hope i am reincarnated as one of her cats!
i aspire to be like her: as caring & as giving & as unselfish as she is!!!

All our BABIES from the last 50 years:
RIP Ben, Jack, Flower, Freckles, Scamper, Bear, Christmas, Cinnamon, Peanut, Petunia, Tinkerbelle, Sullivan, Marmalade, Bogie, Maggie, Benjamin, Thomas, Cabot, ChaCha, Spot, Spencer, Gus, Max, Mama & Eenie, Meenie & Moe, Phoebe, Sponge, Squeak, Harrison, Jellie, Biscuit, Romeo, Mario & Angelo... sooo much love!!!

& thank you for my Furio 11 years young & Mom's GiaMaria A'Schetti 6 years young ~ we LOVE you!!!

Rosslyn O
Rosslyn Oabout a year ago

Exotic (wild) animals belong in the wild! Your article is very thorough and wise thanks. Yes we should look at both sides pro and con of all animals being asked into our home and life style. Adoption is excellnt way to go.

Ann B
Ann Babout a year ago

REALLY---most people do not deserve pets--they chain them, let their children torture them and neglect them...the animal suffers especially the cities that cage their animals ALL DAY and when they come home they might get a few minutes out side if they are not punished for wetting the crate!!!!

Janis K
Janis Kabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

Clare O
Clare O'Bearaabout a year ago

Do not have snakes and turtles around children. Just don't.