When most people think of adding a new pet to their family, their first thoughts go to a baby. A kitten, perhaps, or a puppy. Maybe even a young rabbit, rat, or guinea pig. A baby, we think, will adapt to our family as it grows up.

Baby animals are just like human babies, though. They need supervision, extra care, training, and so much more. Babies are adorable, and oh so cute, but babies are a lot of work.

Rarely do people think about the advantages of adding an adult (or even a senior) pet to their family. Let’s take a look at the advantages of older pets, because there are several.

Older dog on beach after being adopted

You Know What You’re Getting

An adult (or older) pet is already grown up. There are no questions about his adult size because he’s already there. A puppy from the shelter might look like he’s part Golden Retriever, or because he’s big, white and fluffy maybe there is some Samoyed in there. But is that Samoyed or Great Pyrenees? Is he going to be 50 pounds or 100 pounds when he’s grown up?

If you prefer a cat with a short coat keep in mind the adult cat has her coat. If you want a short hair cat but the kitten turns out to have a long coat, will that be a problem?

When you adopt an adult cat, dog, or rabbit you know how big that pet is, what kind of coat it has, and all the other details that are important to you.

Look for the Right New Pet

Unfortunately, there are too many adult or older pets waiting for new homes. You can’t take them all, but you can look for the right one. If a short coat is important to you, look for that. Or if you need a dog who is friendly with cats or a cat who is calm with dogs, look for that.

Pure bred, mixed breed, long hair or short, big or small; figure out what’s most important to you and then keep that in mind as you look for your next best friend.

Small white dog laying on the floor next to little boy taking a nap

Older Pets Usually Have Better Manners

There is no guarantee, of course, that an older pet will be perfectly behaved unless his background is known. However, as a general rule most older pets have outgrown the kitten and puppy hijinks stage. They will probably not destroy your furniture and shoes, and most are housetrained (or just need a quick refresher).

Even if your new pet needs to learn something new, that’s easily taught. Older pets CAN learn new tricks and are easy to train. They can concentrate better than easily distracted babies and know the benefits of cooperation.

The Best Companion Ever

If you live alone, an adult pet is the best companion ever. If you are young, working long hours, and striving to move up in your chosen career, that adult cat you adopted will always be there to greet you happily when you come home. She’ll be patient, purr on your lap, and snuggle up with you each night.

If you are older yourself, that older dog may share stiff joints with you on cold mornings but he’ll still be happy to go for a walk around the block with you. He’ll be patient, too, when your neighbors want to talk about your new friend.

Even those two older bunnies will be great fun. They will make you laugh and smile. Adult pets are the best companions ever; they just want your company and attention.

Older yellow lab laying in the grass being pet by owner

They Are Grateful

Spending time in a shelter, even the best shelter, is stressful for older pets. It’s not home, their previous owner is not there, it’s loud, people and other pets are coming and going; a shelter environment is tough. Pets grieve, and in the shelter they are grieving for the loss of their previous owner as well as their home.

When you adopt an adult pet from the shelter and that pet is now back in a home environment, that dog or cat will be forever grateful. Back in a home with someone to love, your new pet will relax, settle in, learn the new routine, and after some time to adjust, will love you with all his heart.

By: Liz Palika