Adoption Tips: How To Adopt a Dog or Cat

4 min read
Aug 06, 2023

Adopting a new pet from anywhere is a big undertaking. However, when you adopt a dog or cat from a shelter, it can make things easier. You can save money on adoption costs, and there’s a good chance that a cat or dog who catches your eye will already be vaccinated, spayed/neutered, or house trained. Still, there are some things to keep in mind when adopting a dog or cat from a shelter. Let’s take a look at some tips to help you prepare for your new furry family member!

Things To Know Beforehand

It’s important to set expectations and prepare your living space before bringing a new animal home. Here are a few things to know to help get your space, lifestyle, and finances ready for your new companion.

How much does it cost to adopt a dog?

Most pet shelters have adoption fees that help cover the cost of things like microchipping, spaying/neutering, and any supplies the shelter sends you home with. Even so, the cost of adopting a dog from an animal shelter can be less than what you’d pay at a pet store or a breeder.

Dog adoption costs typically come in around $130, but they can reach as high as $700 or more. Adopting from a publicly funded shelter may cost less than a privately owned shelter or rescue. Fees can also vary depending on the breed and age of the dog.

How much does it cost to adopt a cat?

Cat adoption costs can be lower than those for a dog. They average between $38 and $180, which covers many of the same services involved when you adopt a dog. Why are cat adoption fees so much lower? One big factor is demand. Dogs are usually adopted more quickly than cats, leaving shelters full of kitties who need homes. Some shelters and rescues will reduce or waive the fees to incentivize more cat adoptions.

How to pet-proof your home

Moving to a new home can be stressful for pets, particularly in the initial days or weeks. As such, accidents may occur, even with housebroken pets. If your cat or dog has already been housetrained, keep in mind that these accidents may pass with time. Just be prepared to clean up until that day comes. Kitchens are usually an easy-to-clean area for your new pet to hang out in until they become more comfortable with their new living situation.

There’s also the matter of your pet’s safety to consider. Even the most well-behaved animal can be rambunctious during their first few days in a new home. There are several things you can do to prevent accidents or injuries. Consider some of the following pet-proofing tips:

  • Tape up loose electrical cords so they don’t get chewed
  • Keep dangerous chemicals out of reach so they don’t get swallowed
  • Move harmful plants out of the area, as some plants are poisonous to cats and dogs
  • Remove or place breakable objects out of reach
  • Install baby gates to set boundaries as your pet adjusts

Supplies to stock up on

This one may be obvious, but have toys ready for your pet. After all, what better way to make your new friend feel at home? You can also make this a bonding experience by having a few toys on hand for their arrival and then going to the store to pick out more together.

You’ll also want to bring a crate or carrier to the shelter. And if you don’t know what sort of dog or cat you’ll be getting, the bigger the better! A crate or carrier will keep your pet secure and a little bit calmer on the ride home.

Also, remember to stock up on cleaning supplies for any accidents that may happen.

How to choose a shelter

There are plenty of animal shelters across the country with cats and dogs waiting to be brought home. Don’t count a shelter or rescue out because of their size or looks. Most of them rely on donations that go to caring for the dogs and cats first, and the facility comes second. Pay attention to the way they care for the animals and how transparent they are before and during the adoption process.

At MetLife Pet, we’ve partnered with ethical shelters throughout the U.S. to make finding the right adoption center a little easier. Just filter by your state to find a shelter near you.

Shelter Name


Zip Code

Angel of Hope Cat Rescue



Animal Humane






Arizona Animal Welfare League and SPCA



Arizona Humane Society



Atlanta Humane



Helping Strays



Dallas (Friends of)



Dumb Friends League (S/W: Chameleon)



East Coast - No 30 day



Foothills Animal Shelter



Friends of Upland



Licking County Humane



Tree House Animals



BARCS - Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Services



Pasadena Humane Society



Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region



Kentucky Humane Society






Lexington Humane Society



Humane Society of Charlotte



Humane Society of North Texas



Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League



Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando



Pima Animal Care Center - Subsidiary (Friends of)



San Diego Humane Society



SPCA of Texas



The Greater Birmingham Humane Society



Humane Society of Memphis



WI Humane



Wolf Trap Animal Rescue



Woods Humane Society (CA)



Things To Do at the Shelter

The day is finally here, and you’re understandably excited. You may also feel a little overwhelmed walking into a shelter full of cats and dogs who need homes. Keep these tips in mind as you look for the perfect pet companion.

Consider “less adoptable” pets

It’s an unfortunate fact that some pets are regularly overlooked at adoption centers and animal shelters. These may include older animals and those with existing health or behavior concerns. Consider branching out and meeting a few less adoptablepets. You never know who’ll steal your heart!

Spend some time with a pet you like

If you come across a dog you like, ask to take them for a walk. And if you find a cat you like, ask if there’s a room where you can spend some time playing with them. This can be a great way to learn about a pet’s personality and energy level in a brief amount of time, so don’t hesitate to ask. If anything, the folks at the shelter will likely be glad you’re so invested in finding the right companion for you.

Ask questions

The people working at the shelter are there to ensure you and your potential pet are the best match for each other. Asking questions can help you make an informed decision. Here are some particularly important questions to consider:

  • What is their feeding and potty schedule like? Ask this to learn how to accommodate the schedule your new pet is already used to. If you need to alter that schedule for any reason, try introducing changes over a few days, not all at once.
  • What food do they eat? If you want to transition your pet to a new brand or type of food, that’s perfectly fine! But do so slowly, so they don't have any stomach problems. Some shelters may send you home with your pet’s favorite food. Try adding just a bit of the new food to the old food day-by-day until a full transition is made.
  • Are there other factors to consider? Does the animal have any behavioral or health concerns? Are they on any medications? What adoption fees will there be? Does their name have to stay the same or can you name your pet something different?

Know what happens after you choose a pet

Once you’ve chosen your fur baby, you’ll likely be asked to fill out some paperwork. The shelter may also collect the adoption fee at this time, if there is one. Whether you get to bring your new pet home that same day depends on the shelter. Some may need you to schedule a pick-up for a different day, or a home check may be required to ensure it’s the best environment for that specific animal.

Either way, you’ve completed the final step in your adoption journey. Be sure to mark your “Gotcha Day” on the calendar, so you and your pet can celebrate it for years to come!

Things To Keep In Mind After Adoption

Bringing a new pet home is a joyous occasion, but that doesn’t mean the hard part is over. Keep these considerations in mind as you work to make your pet comfortable in their new home.

Round out your pet supplies

If you didn’t know the exact pet you’d be bringing home with you, finish grabbing any missing supplies you need after the adoption. Food, bowls, beds, collars, harnesses, leashes, and grooming supplies are all a great start. Once you and your pet are more settled into life together, you’ll be able to expand your supplies to anything else they may need.

Moving can be disorienting and frightening

If you’ve ever moved, you know it’s a significant stress — and you likely had weeks to plan for it. So keep this in mind during your pet’s initial days at their new house. You may want to limit interactions with strangers (and excited children) until your dog or cat has time to adjust. They’ll start to relax more as the days pass, so no need to rush!

Introduce your pet to their new bathroom area

This one’s really important! Depending on whether or not your new pet is already housebroken, this might be easy or difficult. Either way, the sooner your dog knows to go outside or your cat knows where the litter box is, the easier life will be for both of you!

Be mindful and patient

Remember that some adopted animals may come from a difficult background or environment. Be mindful of that. For example, even unassuming objects or gestures might frighten or unsettle your new friend. Be very gentle the first few days to get a feel for how your pet reacts to different things.

Establish a consistent schedule

It’s important to stay consistent with a feeding and exercising schedule. It may be a good idea to use the same, familiar words and phrases to help establish the routine. For instance, “dinner time” or “outside” — if repeated and used consistently — might become easily recognized and understood by your pet.

Keep Your New Friends Safe With Pet Insurance

Bringing a new animal into your life is a big responsibility. Pet insurance can help make it easier. Enrolling in a dog insurance or cat insurance policy is a great way to help shoulder the weight of unexpected costs — especially in emergencies — as well as routine care.

Once you’ve brought your new pet home, consider investing in a MetLife Pet Insurance policy. Learn how pet insurance works or get a quote today to see your personalized rates.

Help Keep Your Pet Healthy and Happy


**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

L0823034057[exp0825][All States][DC,GU,MP,PR,VI]