Is It Time to Get a New Pet?

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Filed in Cats, Dogs, Getting a New Kitten/Cat, Getting a New Puppy/Dog

Of course you can never really replace a pet who died. Feelings of being disloyal may crop up or a tension between the new pet and its owner may develop along the lines of "this cat isn't like our Max."

How do you know when it's the right time to get a new pet? What factors do you need to think about before embarking on another journey in the wonderful life of pet ownership? Here are some guidelines to use when you're thinking about getting a new pet.

  • Are you looking to replace the exact dog or cat who died? If you buy a new pet immediately after a previous one has died, will it be a mistake? Your old feelings for your old pet cannot be transferred onto the new one, who has a personality all of her own. Filling the void immediately will not only leave the owner unfulfilled, but the new pet will not get her needs met. When you're ready to honestly say "I'm ready for a new relationship with a new dog," instead of "I want another Max," then it's probably time for a new pet.
  • Remember the responsibility? After spending years with a pet, you have gotten in a groove of the pet-owning ritual: feeding, cleaning, grooming, and loving. You know exactly what your pet's needs are, how his personality is, and what his dislikes and likes are. When you get a new pet, you're going to have go through a period of re-adjustment and training; all the steps a new pet requires and deserves. Consider whether you have the time to devote to a new pet, as well. Evaluate your need for a pet. If an excited new kitten or dog is too much to handle at this point in your life, remember that there are many adult pets in shelters who need a good home and many are already trained.
  • Why did your last pet pass away? Was it from old age or from a mistake you might have made? If your cat got hit by a car, don't get another one unless you're willing to keep him inside or in a specially made cat run. These are tough considerations but necessary.

As for the feelings of being disloyal, try not to feel that you're betraying your deceased pet by replacing him. It's OK to remind yourself that no new pet could replace old Max but that you still have plenty of love to give to a new friend. Remember that you might still have bouts of sadness even when you get a new pet.

When you do get a new pet, let the bond between you and your new pal start off fresh. Each pet has its own personality and that personality needs time to grow. Try to remember how fun it was when you discovered new things about your old pet. The same holds true for this new pet. Try not to compare your new pet to the old one, though. Comparison to your old pet won't do you or your new pet any good.

If you feel you might fall prey to constant comparing, try getting a different pet entirely. If you had a dog, try a cat or try a different breed, color or sex. You would rarely expect a pet of a different breed or sex to behave as your old one did. Remember to give your new pet and you a chance to develop the same kind of bond that was special with your old pet.

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