There are a good number of cats, dogs and other small animals all waiting for their forever home in Qatar’s rescue centres.

russian-blue-kitten-on-brown-woven-basketJune is National Adopt-A-Cat Month organised by American Humane, in recognition of the large number of kittens born in this month, often ending up in shelters. This year is the 45th annual celebration and encourages animal lovers to adopt a ‘pandemic pet’, as shelters struggle to maintain operations during COVID-19.

Research has shown owning a pet can be beneficial for your mental health (see our feature on Why Pets Are Good For Your Mental Health). However, having a pet is a big decision and a long-term commitment. It is important to consider a few things before deciding to adopt an animal.

You will need to have a good think about what sort of pet would suit you and your lifestyle best. Think about where you live and whether you can have a pet in your home, and if so, what sort. Do you or anyone else in the home have allergies, do you have the necessary space for a cage or tank, do you have children?

happy-woman-with-cute-girl-wearing-protective-mask-and-4000603New pets will need time to settle in and acclimatise, and you will need to consider care schedules. Are you the sort of person to get up at 6 am to walk the dog, or do you prefer to lie in and let you and the cats do your own thing? Can you commit to regularly cleaning a fish tank, replenishing hay for hamsters, mucking out a bird cage, brushing a Persian every day? Take into account whether you have to be away from the home for long periods of the day, or will be travelling a lot once the coronavirus lockdown conditions have eased. Someone else will need to care for your animal and this could incur extra costs.

Once you’ve decided on an adoptable animal, swot up on essential necessities such as vaccination schedules and microchipping, and look in to the overall cost of providing food, toys and bedding. There may be other expenses such as regular grooming and ‘spa days’ to keep your pet looking good. If you are rescuing from a shelter, they would greatly appreciate a donation towards helping other animals in need, and they may have already seen to neutering the animal- which you may choose to reimburse.

QAWS 18 May imageWhatever the age of the adopted animal (and don’t just go for the young cute puppy or kitten, there are a lot of seniors that need homes!), you may need to train them to assist their transition, so be ready from day one. If you have other animals in the house, it is recommended that you keep them apart for the first few days to allow them all to get to know each other in a staged fashion.

PAWS Rescue Qatar 27 May imageYou will need to make your home pet-friendly right from the start as well – no loose cables or medication left lying around, and remove any toxic houseplants. Ensure there are plenty of toys, collars and leads, and beds. Make them aware of where the litter tray is, their food and the water bowls. The new environment should be as comfortable as possible. Being house-proud will probably go out of the window if owning a cat or dog, once all the cat trees and dog beds start appearing. And you will no doubt be forever tripping up on a toy or a random paw grabbing you!

Some animals can have a long life, especially as indoor pets – dogs around 10-15 years, cats 15-20 years, small parrots and budgerigars 20-30 years, and larger bird species such as Amazonian parrots and cockatoos have been known to live up to the age of 75, or even older! Your new furred or feathered friend is potentially going to be with you for quite some time, so consider any life changes you may encounter over the next few years. If you are going to be moving countries, you will need to factor in the relocation process and costs for you and your pet.

dogLastly, and most importantly, this may be a daunting undertaking for some. But the love and comfort an animal companion can bring for many years will be appreciated by all.

Author: Sarah Palmer

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