Skip to Content

re-homing an older dog or cat vs puppies and kittens

Obtaining a purebred puppy or kitten from a registered breeder is an excellent way to find the perfect pet, but don’t forget crossbred dogs and cats and rescue animals are also available. Sometimes re-homing a more mature pet can be a great choice.

People often assume that the pets that end up in rescue shelters or advertised privately for re-homing must be unwanted or badly behaved. In fact there are many reasons why owners may need to re-home their pet: the owner may be relocating overseas; the owner may have died, been hospitalised or is moving into a nursing home; the owners may have divorced and neither party is able to keep the pet; the owners may not have time for or be able to afford to keep the pet; or, as already covered in this guide, the owner may be moving to an apartment building that doesn’t allow pets. In many cases, owners are broken-hearted to be giving up a much-loved pet and will go to great lengths to ensure that they end up in an appropriate home.

There are many benefits to re-homing an older dog or cat. You’re not starting from scratch with a more mature dog. When you get a puppy, you’re essentially bringing a baby animal into your home – they are untrained, unsocialised, they will most likely cry at night, mess on the floor and chew things they shouldn’t. Kittens generally will already use a litter tray but they’re still going to be more bouncy and rowdy than an older cat.

Rescue dogs will generally have been indoors at some stage in their past, so they should have at least basic manners and toilet training. Older cats are more likely to be content being alone – a good match for someone who has an active lifestyle. Older pets should also already be desexed, microchipped and vaccinated, so will have fewer “start-up” costs.

Most importantly, when you obtain an older pet, what you see is what you get. A puppy or kitten’s demeanour and behaviour will still be developing until they reach maturity, so it can be hard to tell what type of disposition they might have. When you adopt an older pet, their personality and behaviour should be evident.

When selecting a mature dog or cat it can be helpful to know the background of the animal. In many cases, owners can provide a lot of information about the way their pet behaves and has been kept to assist in finding the animal the most suitable home. If you live in a smaller space, ideally you would find a dog or cat that has already been happily kept primarily indoors or in a smaller space.

There are many reliable animal welfare shelters and rescue groups operating around Australia. Look for one that undertakes behavioural assessments of all animals and only makes pets with sound health and temperament available for adoption.

Many shelters and rescue organisations run foster programs where pets are put into the temporary care of a foster home while they’re waiting to find a new, permanent owner. Fostering can be an excellent way of introducing a pet into your life. For people who may be getting over the loss of a beloved pet, fostering can provide an opportunity to once again experience the joys of pet ownership while helping a homeless pet find a new family.

In the Where people get their pets section you will find more information on where to get a pet. For more information on registered breeders, pet shops, shelters and adoption services, visit the best places for you to find a pet section.