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17 May, Monday
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3 Things Singaporeans Don’t Realise When Adopting A Pet

I’m a bona fide cat person. Fawning over cat videos before I sleep? Check. Petting random cats on the streets? Check. I mean, I even bought cat food just so I can feed stray cats I find. I’ve always wanted to get a cat. Since I’m living with my sister at a place of our own now, I thought, maybe I can finally adopt one.

I did have some experience living with a cat. I was staying at a friend’s place, and she has this beautiful Ginger named Archie. I’d always joke that he’s my first long-term relationship since I stayed there for six years. As I worked from home, I’d sometimes play with him when I get bored (sorry, boss). Since I’m a night owl, sometimes he’d want some company with me before I sleep. While I didn’t bathe him, I did clean up his puke. So at least I have that to show for my credentials as a paw-rent.

Then this thought occurred to me: I’m getting a living thing, with its own thoughts, its own way of life. I can’t just adopt a cat just because I find them cute. It got me thinking; what are some of the blind spots I have when it comes to adopting a new pet in Singapore.

I emailed over some of the questions on my mind to SPCA and Dr Jaipal Singh Gill, their Executive Director got back to me. Here’s what 3 Things Singaporeans Don’t Realise When Adopting a Pet.

The conversation with Dr Jaipal has been edited for clarity.



1. You need to find the right match.

Turns out, we have to take a good look at ourselves before we adopt a new furkid. You need to know how much time and space we have in our lives before you adopt a new pet. Dr Jaipal gave me this example: ‘A busy household would not be a good fit for a high-energy level animal which requires daily exercise/stimulation.’

If you’re an outdoorsy kind of person, a high energy dog could be a better match. If you’re more chill, you could think about adopting pets who are older. ‘Senior pets can also make amazing companions if you prefer less energetic furkids who will sit by your side at home.’

SPCA stresses the importance of responsible pet ownership. So, they hold adoption counselling as you approach them for adoption. ‘A pet is for life,’ Dr Jaipal told me. ‘So, to determine if they would make a good match to the personalities and needs of the chosen animal, our counsellors would assess the lifestyle and household of the adopter.’
The adoption counsellors at SPCA would conduct interviews to make sure you and your new furkid is the best match, a sort of pet matchmaking. And you’d have a better idea what you’re getting into as well. If you can’t look after your new pet because of unforeseen circumstances, you need to find your pet a new home.


Read Also: To Fur, With Love


 

2. You need to take the time and space.

‘Even smaller animals such as rabbits need time and dedication; they may not show pain like dogs can, so sometimes it’s even more important to bring them for vet checks!’

And there are other aspects to pet care too. There’s the usual training, daily exercise, mental stimulation, and medical care. But pet care actually includes how your family or pet sitter treats your furkid and its special needs as it enters his/her golden yours. You’d need to make arrangements if you’re relocating too.

‘It takes time to teach an animal and assimilate them into a home,’ Dr Jaipal said. ‘You need to be patient.’ One thing that could help to assimilate your new furkid is to include your household in the process. Your newly adopted pet should be getting along with your family members and other pets as well.

‘It takes time to teach an animal and assimilate them into a home,’ Dr Jaipal said. ‘You need to be patient.’ There’s the required training, daily exercise, mental stimulation, and medical care. One thing that could help to assimilate your new furkid is to include your household in the process. Your newly adopted pet should be getting along with your family members and other pets as well.

‘Adopters would also need to be willing to spend time on training the animal,’ she said.

And the right approach matters. Adopters would also need to be willing to spend time training the animal. In October last year, SPCA launched the ‘Teach With Kindness’ campaign to raise awareness about cruelty in training.

‘Teach With Kindness #ChooseForceFree aims to stamp out abusive practices used in training. Through this campaign, we want to raise the standards within the animal training industry. We want to support pet guardians on animal training and behaviour as well,’ Dr Jaipal said. ‘We are also renewing our call for the government to ban the electric shock collar as the device has no place in animal training.

3. You need to be financially ready.

What a world it would be if we didn’t need to pay for our pet’s healthcare. But, for now, if you’re adopting a pet in Singapore you need to have an idea about the different costs your new pet would entail. There’s the pet food, the toys, the litter, the visits to the vet. And some pets need professional grooming as well, especially for certain dog breeds. And then when you travel, you might need to pay for pet boarding facilities too.

 


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‘Most of the reasons are due to adopters not being prepared for the time and energy needed in caring for the animals,’ Dr Jaipal said. To prevent that, you could start doing the homework first.

‘Before adopting a pet, potential pet guardians should read up on pet care to set the right foundation and long-term expectations. This includes essential medical care and yearly preventives, grooming, force-free training, an appropriate diet, pet-safe toys, and exercise requirements.’
You can start simply by helping a friend look after their pet. Or you can dive deeper by volunteering at an animal shelter or applying to be a fosterer for animal welfare organisations.

‘It’s most important to consider whether you are ready to commit to being a responsible pet caregiver for life and whether you can provide a safe and loving home for your pets.’


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A curious wanderlust at heart, Benedict is always out to explore the world around him, and share his discoveries.