Based on an article that first appeared at

In 2009, Petfinder designated the third week of September as “Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week.” This annual celebration was launched to help recognize and promote those pets that are considered to have less adoptable traits, such as senior pets, FIV cats, and special needs animals. This year’s celebration week is September 16-22, 2019. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons to consider other options than a “standard” puppy or kitten if you’re thinking about adopting a pet.

Why Adopt a Pet?

There are many benefits to adopting a pet for you and your family, as well as the animal and entire animal community. Bringing a pet into your home will add a whole wealth of love and fun into your family’s life. Loving and caring for that pet will bring years of joy. Think of all the fun playing in the yard or going for walks with your dog, or playing with a catnip mouse toy with your cat. Additionally, having a pet is a great way for children to learn compassion and responsibility. You will also be helping a pet in need by providing a home for them and therefore, helping to reduce the population of pets in shelters.

Dog with family

Helping Pets in Need

Every shelter animal is an animal in need, so opening your home to a puppy or kitten is certainly an option for adopting. Let’s face it: puppies and kittens are adorable, and they often end up being adopted from shelters the quickest. However, there are many reasons adult animals end up in shelters, and unfortunately, they can spend years there before being rescued. By considering these “less adoptable” options, you are truly helping a loving animal that, for one reason or another, was surrendered to a shelter. Here are some common situations of less adoptable pets that end up in shelters and tend to remain there much longer than standard puppies and kittens:

Older pets

Older or senior pets are surrendered to shelters frequently for various reasons, such as due behavior issues, after diagnosis of an illness, or because the family is moving.

A pet with special needs or a chronic illness

An animal with special needs such as missing a limb or other physical traits, or one that has a chronic illness often end up in shelters because of needing more attentive care that becomes too much for their owner.

Pets with behavior issues

Pets that are too excitable for their owners, do not walk well on-leash, or have other behavioral issues may be relinquished to shelters.

Large breed dogs

All too common is a situation where people don’t research a breed before getting them. They may be surprised when the dog grows very large and then decide to give them up.

Pets with black fur

The reasons are unclear and there are several theories as to why, but animals with black fur statistically spend longer periods of time in shelters than those of another color.

Breed traits Gif of a dog digging

When a certain breed’s traits start to really come through in a pet’s personality, their owners may not be able to handle or tolerate their behavior. For example, cats who are less “friendly” may disappoint families who wanted a lap cat. Or dogs that have the tendency or drive to dig, run, or hunt may become too much of a problem for their owners.

Less Adoptable?

When you consider what qualities make a good pet, are these animals actually less adoptable? Of course statistically, these animals are not adopted as quickly or frequently as puppies and kittens. They may not be the cute kitten or puppy you see in a picture or on a calendar. However, the qualities of a loving, loyal, and kind pet can all be found in these less adoptable animals. When you take the time to consider it, you may realize that you can find a special, loving bond between your family and one of these less adoptable animals.

Solutions to These “Problems”

Is there a benefit or plus side to adopting one of these animals?

An older pet is most likely already housetrained, which takes that responsibility and effort off of the new owner. Older pets also tend to be calmer in their demeanor, so you can avoid the excitable puppy knocking things over in your house. If you tend to engage in mellower activities such as reading a book in a comfy chair or curling up on the couch for a movie, older pets can be a welcome companion for you.

Woman reading book next to cat

Chronic illness management can be done with the help of a great veterinary team (be sure to contact us!) as well as with a bit of organization. Special needs pets with a physical issue may not actually have any problems doing all of the things other pets can do.

Black fur is less likely to show on your dark dress clothes - sometimes it’s the little things in life!

Behavioral training does take time and patience, but it is possible to train a leash-puller or a jumper. It can take some effort, but it can be a rewarding and bonding experience to work through these behavioral issues. You may discover new activities to enjoy if you end up needing to give a herding dog a job or seek ways to bond with an aloof cat.

Celebrate “Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week”

If you are not planning on adopting a pet, you can still celebrate by spreading the word to friends and family about these animals. You can also contact a local shelter to help promote the less adoptable animals located there. You can use social media to share photos of animals looking for a home.

If you are thinking about bringing a new cat or dog into your home now or sometime in the future, we hope this information helps you to consider adopting a less adoptable animal. You may end up finding a sweet, loving animal to bond with that brings you and your family years of joy.



  • Adoption