Things to think about when choosing animals to adopt
Have all of your cat's needs ready so she can get right down to the business of making herself at home. Kitty will need:
A litter box and the brand of litter she's been using
Food and water bowls and the food she's used to eating
A sturdy, rough-textured scratching post—at least three feet high—that allows her to stretch completely while scratching
Safe, stimulating toys. Hint: If you give her toys that make noises, you'll know when she's playing.
A bed lined with a soft, warm blanket or towel
Grooming tools: a high-quality brush and nail clipper are a good start
Set a routine
Give your cat a little structure to lean on. For the first few weeks, provide him with the same kind of food and feeding schedule he had before living with you—and give him the same brand of litter, too, for a familiar scent and feel on his paws. Later on, if you wish to switch to different products, you can make a slow transition.
Let's Talk Cat-proofing
When your cat is ready to explore the rest of her new home (for short excursions at first), be sure to get rid of stray items she might chew on or swallow, like toilet paper, tissues and paper towels. Pens and pencils may need to be kept in drawers. You may also have to tape wires to baseboards and put caps on outlets.
Put away harsh cleaning products, human medications and household poisons, and rehome any houseplants that might be toxic to her. Make sure foods that aren't healthy for a cat's tummy are placed securely out of reach
If you live alone in a small, third-floor apartment, for instance, adopting a large, active retriever-mix might not be the best choice ... but then, if you're a runner and want a partner for your jogs, or you have a large family of kids who will play with the dog all the time, it could be fine! A dog's size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness and compatibility with children should all figure into your decision. Remember, you're not just getting a dog; your new dog is getting a family!
Purebred or Magical mix?
How do you find out which dogs have the qualities you're looking for?
Information is the key: learn about the personalities of various breeds, visit with animals at the shelter and speak with an adoption counselor for guidance.
Dogs fall into one of two categories: purebreds or mixed breeds. Most animal shelters have plenty of both. The only significant difference between the two is that purebreds, because their parents and other ancestors are all members of the same breed, are similar to a specific "breed standard." This doesn't always tell you much about a dog's good health or how she'll behave, but it will help give you an idea of how big she's likely to get and whether her ears will be adorably droopy or sharp and perky (and other such physical traits). With mixes, you'll get a unique, never-seen-before blend!
Do your homework
Once you have decided on the type of pet you are interested in, there are a number of websites out there that bring the world of animals waiting for new homes right to your fingertips. The Shelter Pet Project is the most comprehensive source of information on adopting a shelter pet. Don’t be surprised if you are inundated with options!