5 Reasons to Adopt a Special Needs Pet

My cat is half blind, but love is completely blind. I knew I had to have the little one-eyed kitty the second I saw her. What I didn’t know was all she would teach me about myself and about compassion. Affectionately named Iris, she opened my eyes to a type of unconditional love I hadn’t known before, and I hope I’ve opened her eyes (the one she still has, at least) to what it’s like to have a real family. There are inevitably some difficulties, for example her anxiety about being approached from her blind side and regular vet appointments to make sure there are no complications with her surgery site. However, with time and a little extra attention to detail, it’s not hard to look past this.

A pet with special needs can mean many different things. Some are missing extremities, some are blind or deaf, and some require unique medications for their entire lives. The thought of adopting a pet with a handicap may be intimidating to some, but those that do will reap the rewards.

Here are five reasons you should consider adopting a special needs pet.

1. You’re helping the animal: When searching for a companion, many people have a vision of a perfect, pristine animal in their heads; one they can spend long hours playing fetch with, or one who will entertain them by chasing toys around. Unfortunately, people don’t realize that special needs pets can do all of these things and more. For this reason, many rescue organizations hold events like Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Day. The sad truth is that many special needs pets will spend their lives in shelters because many adopters don’t see it ideal to bring a pet with a disability home. Special needs pets are often overlooked so by adopting one, you’re giving them the chance at a family they might not have had otherwise.

2. The animal will help you: I have many pets and they all supply the unconditional love you’d expect from a companion. However, there is something different about the bond with a pet who has special needs. There has to be a certain confidence from a special needs pet, trusting that you will care for them properly and respect their limitations. In return for your thoughtfulness and patience, a special needs animal will repay you with a deeper, kinder type of love.

Image Credit: Handicapped Pets

3. You’ll learn about yourself: You might think it takes a special type of person to care for a special needs animal, but the truth is that special type of person is in all of us. Yes, it requires a certain gentleness and ample patience to parent an animal with a disability, but I’ve found it comes naturally because of the bond you’ll create with your pet. A special needs pet will help bring out the thoughtful qualities you didn’t know you had. Even if you don’t see it in yourself, your capacity for compassion and empathy will surprise you.

4. It can help you relate to people with disabilities: People, like animals, come from all walks of life. And people, like animals, are so much more than just skin and bones. A special needs pet might help open your eyes and heart to the world of different people around us. If you’re already compassionate, caring for an animal with a disability might help you better appreciate the challenges people with disabilities face every day. If you have a special need of your own, you and your pet can support each other and walk the path together. Nobody is exactly the same, and a special needs pet can help you appreciate the beauty in those around us.

Image Credit: State Farm

5. Special needs animals are little superheroes: Besides kindheartedness and understanding, there is a lot we can all learn from the perseverance of pets with special needs. Despite their setbacks, special needs animals don’t give up. They adapt to their unique situations and conquer their limitations daily. In my personal experience, despite my best efforts to gain her trust, Iris was still skittish when approached from her blind side. I could tell her all day I would never hurt her, but my own positive reinforcements couldn’t do as much as a pep talk from herself. It took some self-encouragement and a little bit of faith, but I haven’t gone to sleep without a purring kitty on my chest in the last year. Iris and all other special needs animals serve as an amazing example of overcoming difficulties and are inspirations to us all.

If a special needs pet wasn’t on your radar in your search for a companion, stop and think about the benefits for both for you and the animal should you choose to bring one home. It won’t be long before you discover that special needs pet are really just special.

Would you ever consider adopting a special needs pet? Leave a comment and let us know!

Featured Image Credit Total Verhext (modified)

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