As a pet sitting company, we take care of pets of all ages. Young, adult, and senior pets all have their own specific needs and care requirements. When looking to add a new family member one of the questions that will come up is, should we get a young, or an adult pet? Both life stages have their pro’s and con’s and one should carefully consider what stage fits their family to prevent disappointment and in the worst case, re-homing. So let’s have a closer look at what the pro’s and con’s of each life stage are.
Who doesn’t melt at the sight of a kitten or puppy? One of the reasons people choose pups and kittens is because they look cute, have that puppy/kitten smell, and just know how to win your heart over. While pups and kittens look cute, this should never be the sole reason for choosing a young animal as pups and kittens grow up fast. Within a year, they lose their baby look and will grow up to be an (almost) adult.
While adult pets might have habits you wish to unlearn, pups and kittens can be raised from scratch. Don’t be fooled though, properly raising a pet from scratch isn’t necessarily easier or will take less time then (re)training an adult pet. When choosing a pup or kitten it’s your responsibility to train and socialise them so they can grow up to be happy and well-balanced adults. Pups generally speaking are more flexible than adult dogs who can be more set in their behaviour, and it will be easier to learn certain skills that would be needed in your family, like living together with kids or other pets.
Another common reason why people choose a pup or a kitten is that their background is (partially) known and it’s assumed that they haven’t had any bad experiences yet which might affect their behaviour in the long term.This pro only applies if you get your pup or kitten from a reputable source that invests time and effort in the health and socialisation of your pup or kitten. While you will know the medical and behavioural history from your pup or kitten from the moment they join your family, depending on where you got them from, bad experiences may already have happened and medical history isn’t always available. Bad experiences that affect behaviour can happen as early as shortly after birth, like early separation from mother and siblings or no socialisation with different everyday stimuli.
Another benefit of young pets is that they are often easier to medical insure than adult animals and their policies are often cheaper.
Young animals require a lot of time and attention, pups even more so than kittens. Especially pups can’t, and don’t want to be alone for extended periods of time and this slowly will need to be learned. Leaving them alone almost certainly will result in lots of barking and howling and preparations will need to be made after taking them home so they get the space and time to learn this skill. This process can take weeks to months.
After the kitten/puppy period puberty will follow which brings its own set of challenges. Behaviours like stubbornness, increased need for mental and physical challenge, and testing limits are not uncommon. Pet owners often experience puberty as a challenging time of pet ownership.
While kittens in almost all cases will go on their litter box by themselves, pups will need to be taught where to do their business. Some pups will get the idea fast, while others take longer. It’s not uncommon to still have some accidents at 6 months old, so be prepared for the extra cleaning that comes with this.
Young animals are often scratchy and nippy. They are still exploring the world and learning, which often involves their mouth and feet. While it’s not ill intended, the biting and scratching can scare young children and they can unintentionally get hurt. Young animals also tend to destroy more items by chewing and scratching compared to adult pets, and especially when teething will try to find comfort by chewing.
When choosing a young pet, it will be hard to predict how they will be as an adult. While guesses can be made looking at the parents of your pup or kitten, they are just that….a well educated guess. When going for a younger animal, in most cases this will mean you will have more time with them, though the unexpected can always happen.
In most cases, adult pets are more easy going than younger pets and are less “wild”. Depending on the pet, they usually have less issues with staying alone and dogs often come potty trained. In some cases they might need to be (re)trained to potty outside or stay alone, which for older dogs is usually an easier process than for pups as they are mentally and physically ready for this. Older pets are often also less destructive than younger pets.
One of the big pro’s of adult pets is that you can roughly see their personality and what their physical and mental needs are. While a pet might be different with a new family, their physical needs, like the amount of stimulation and exercise needed, work drive, or other specific things like shedding and coat care, will not change.
Depending on the background of the pet, they might already come socialised, know commands, and how to behave in and outside of the home. Often it’s clear if the pet is good with kids or not, tolerates other animals, and information is known about other points that might be important to your family.
Depending on their background, an adult pet may come with behaviours you wish to unlearn. This (re)training will take patience and time and in some cases certain behaviours will be very hard to change. Due to the vast range of backgrounds of adult pets it might be harder to gain the trust of an older pet, though the more rewarding it will be once that trust is gained.
Adult pets often need more time to settle than younger animals, and while some pets will settle in quickly, for some it can take up to 6 months (or more) to fully feel at home. Some pets may require space and time, which might be hard on kids as it will require patience and self control to give the pet the space it needs.
Lastly, adopting an older animal means you most likely will have less time with them than with a younger pet, and medical expenses related to health might come up sooner for older animals than younger ones.
Deciding the right age of your potential new family member will depend on several factors like time available, other members within the family, and other important points that may apply to your living situation. By choosing a pet with an age that suits your family, a more smooth transition will be possible and disappointment and problems can be prevented.
If you would like to know more about our pet care services, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to help.