Choosing whether to adopt or purchase a cat or dog

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There are many things to consider when thinking about adding a four legged friend to the family. The two main questions that arise focus on the type of animal and whether or not you should adopt. While both decisions depend on your lifestyle, we thought it would be helpful to highlight some of the risks with choosing to purchase or adopt.

One of the first things to emphasize is many pets who end up in the adoption pipeline were originally purchased as purebreds. Meaning, if you have your heart set on a specific breed of cat or dog you can find them through adoption channels. Often, purebreds are given up by their owners due to injury, illness, behavioral problems or aggressive behavior. The issue of pedigree comes to light most often in cases of illness. It has been proven that purebred cats and dogs are more likely to have genetic illnesses.

Of course, like humans, animals get sick which is why preventive care is important for all pets regardless of pedigree. For example, an unvaccinated, non-purebred stray is more likely to get an illness than a purebred, indoor-only housecat.

When considering adding a cat to your family Dr. Jo, a Vet Expert on JustAnswer, providing the following information.

“Based on my professional experience, I would NEVER consider getting a purebred cat. Most of the cats seen in veterinary practice are not purebred, and it is rare to see a purebred cat who is not sick. Catteries, cat shows, etc. ... all the things that go with the purebred cat fancier culture propagate illness. There are very high incidences of genetic and infectious diseases in purebred cats.

There are many wonderful, beautiful, healthy cats at shelters who are destroyed every month because there aren't enough homes for them all. A tremendous benefit of adopting a shelter cat is that you know you will be saving one from death. That being said, shelter cats - depending on conditions - can have very high rates of infectious and parasitic diseases: ear mites, fleas, upper respiratory infections. If you do adopt, be sure to have a cat screened for Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (Feline AIDS) before adopting it.”

Dr. Jo also provided some guidelines for adding a dog to your family.

“When it comes to dogs, there are many conditions that purebreds are predisposed to. Most veterinarians I know can tell you story after story about people who've gone to great effort to purchase the "perfect" dog only to find out their dog has lots of health problems.

Another consideration is your ethical stance. Adopting a dog allows you to provide a home for a dog that will likely otherwise be destroyed. “Good” breeders devote their lives and financial resources to improving the breed they love, and your purchase price goes towards that. Not all breeders are “good” however, and it can be hard for the layperson to tell the difference. Be sure to do the proper research when selecting a breeder if you choose to go that route.”

If you are focused on purchasing a purebred, find local rescues for that breed - almost all popular purebreds have dedicated rescues with lots of loving pets who had families unable to care for them. In the end, it is up to you and your family to decide which option will best suit your circumstance.

If you have questions about choosing the best pet for your family, Vet Experts on JustAnswer can help. Ask Now >