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For many of us, the question of whether to give a pet (usually a puppy or a kitten) as a gift is a mix of conflicting feelings. Will the recipient love and cherish this pet? Will this animal be a good fit for the new family? Or, “I know s/he would love this little guy!”

Here are some things to think about carefully when considering gifting a pet.

Only consider giving a pet to someone who has expressed a sustained interest in having a pet and has the ability to care for that pet responsibly.

Consider the activity level of a kitten and the mobility of the recipient. Kittens can get underfoot very quickly and potentially be a tripping hazard. Less active senior cats are just as much in need of a loving home and will likely be a better fit for seniors.”

Note this quote from an article published by the ASPCA:

“Recently, the ASPCA conducted a survey to learn more about people who acquire pets as gifts. In the survey, 96% of the people who received pets as gifts thought it either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to that pet. The vast majority of these pets are still in the home (86%). The survey also revealed no difference in attachment based on the gift being a surprise or known in advance. Several studies conducted in the 1990’s and 2000 (Patronek, 1996, Scarlett, 1999 New, 1999, New 2000) found that pets acquired as gifts are less likely to be relinquished than pets acquired by the individual.” *

Before talking with an adoption counselor about your plan, think about these subjects:

  • Interest: Did this person already show interest in having a pet?
  • Cost: Is the recipient financially capable and willing to pay for a lifetime of pet food, pet supplies, veterinary care and other services?
  • Time: Does the recipient have plenty of time to provide the pet with exercise, interaction and play? How often is this person at home? Does s/he travel a lot?
  • Space: What kind of environment will the animal live in? Does the home/residence have any restrictions on pets? Will the animal be comfortable in the space?
  • Compatibility: What kind of animal would best fit this recipient’s lifestyle? How active is this person? Does s/he like to hang out at home or spend time outdoors?
  • Health: Does the recipient have the physical ability to care for a pet? Does s/he have allergies or other conditions that would conflict with caring for this pet?
  • Other Pets: Will this new animal get along with other animals in the household?

If you do decide to move forward, be sure you have everything the recipient will need – supplies, litter boxes, a leash, a collar, food, bedding and toys – to gift along with the pet.

Really, the very best way to give the joy of a pet to someone is to take the person to the rescue or animal shelter, and let them pick out their own little bundle of joy.

*ASPCA Position Statement: Pets as Gifts

** Why Pets Make Good Gifts