By: Valerie Lee Veltre
So you have decided to adopt an adult cat (or dog)…
If you have children, now is the time for a family meeting. There are several important issues that need to be addressed in regards to your household and family lifestyle that will help your young child(ren) begin to understand some of life’s lessons through the adoption of an adult animal.
Your children’s wants vs. needs.
Most parents have experienced a cherubic little person insisting there’s no problem keeping a pony in the garage. It’s hard to say “no,” but you will have to explain that sometimes you have to make a second, realistic choice, like a cat that can actually live in the house. An adult kitty will be able to sit on a lap and snuggle and follow the family around the house, doing cute cat stuff.
You need to be honest with yourself and your family about what you can afford. You may have to explain that just because Little Sally next door got an $800 special breed kitten or puppy for her birthday, it doesn’t mean you are ready to whip out your checkbook. Paying for a pet is just the beginning. You will be in for the long haul, i.e. early life vet care, food, supplies, yearly preventative vet visits. It is also important to plan for the what if: what if kitty (or fido) have health problems down the line. Sometimes special breeds that have been irresponsibly bred by some breeders (not all breeders!) have lifetime health problems. If you and your kids are set on a specific breed, look into rescue groups for that breed. You will be able to adopt an adult animal that needs a home, foregoing the large price tag, and early start-up vet care.
These days it seems like families are scheduled up to their eyeballs with activities. It’s go-go-go from sun up to sun down. If your life is like this, you will need to talk to your children about the advantages of adopting an adult cat. The family as a whole will have little or no time to devote to a kitten. Babies need a lot of attention, and it is wrong and entirely unacceptable to adopt a kitten and then rush off to soccer practice. Of course, an adult animal will need to be cared for as well, and not ignored, but it will not need as much attention for training as a kitten will surely need. You must stress that any pet you adopt, requires love, care, and attention and is not an object like a video game.
Loving thy elders.
In our society, youth is valued over age. Our media is saturated with images and rhetoric about how young, pretty, and new is better. You can make choices for your child(ren) about what media he is exposed to, but you will have a harder time managing that in his day to day life away from you. What you can do is impress upon him the value of an adult animal, and how this parallels the value of our elders, and how they enrich our lives. Adopting an adult kitten is rewarding to the animal and the child.
Doing good for others.
Sure that super cute kitten on the shelter website is adorable. But what about the cat that is listed as a long time resident still looking for a home? She sure would like a home and a family to love. Teach your child(ren) that he can begin a lifetime of helping others by a simple act of kindness to someone or something in need. Bringing home an adult cat that has ended up in a shelter due to no fault of her own will give your child and entire family a sense of purpose and satisfaction.
Remember, you are responsible for instilling good morals and a sense of responsibility in your child(ren). You may wonder why a pet may have anything to do with this, but adding a pet to your family is a very important and serious step. A pet teaches children how to care for another being, and how to love unconditionally. Adopting an adult cat further teaches that all age groups have value, and deserve a loving home.