7 Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet

Happy National Pet Day!

April 11th is National Pet Day, and it falls so very close to when my own furballs were born. (They’re about to turn five by the way.)

Go ahead, you can think it: Rachel’s a bit of a crazy cat lady. I’m definitely an animal lover. Holmes and Watson bring a lot of joy and entertainment into our home.

If you don’t already have a cat, dog, rabbit, fish, snake, hamster, etc in your home and are thinking about adding one to your family, here are a few things you should consider:

  1. Make sure you are prepared for the responsibility. Don’t do it if buying or adopting an animal is simply a whim. Pet ownership is a commitment.
  2. If you rent, know the pet policies before bringing one home. We briefly lived in a “pet friendly” but actually pet unfriendly apartment when we were building our house, sometimes the pet policies aren’t as simple as allowing cats and small dogs. Dig into the policies and find out.
  3. Having a pet will change your lifestyle, pick the type of pet that will fit best with your current lifestyle. A dog is probably not the best choice if you are gone for long periods to time and wouldn’t be able to let them out. We decided to get two cats because we are gone a lot and wanted them to keep each other company and cats are more self sufficient and don’t need let outside.
  4. Baby animals almost always start out cute, but they will grow up. Don’t make cuteness the only reason to get a pet because your perception of an animal can change as they grow up and unfortunately people will surrender or abandon pets simply because they aren’t cute anymore.
  5. Pets are not gifts. This time of year is horrible because people tend to get bunnies or chicks as Easter gifts and then they grow and either the family didn’t consider the responsibility or the fact that they grow up and then get rid of them. Christmas or birthdays aren’t bad times to get a pet, but giving them to a child as a gift makes them seem more like a toy and less like a responsibility. Caring for a pet can help a child be more responsible, but don’t punish the pet if the child doesn’t step up to the plate.
  6. There is no such thing as a free pet. Sure someone may give you an animal, but vet care, food and other pet items cost money. Be sure you can afford it.
  7. Instead of calling a breeder, pay a visit to an animal shelter or rescue group to not only get a pet, but possibly even save a life! Plus, adopting from a shelter or rescue group is cheaper than buying from a breeder and your adoption fee goes to helping more animals, not padding a breeder’s pockets.

Don’t let my list scare you away from getting a pet, unless it’s made you realize that you’re not ready. Pets are awesome. If you can’t commit to adding an animal to your family or the responsibility, don’t despair! You can still enjoy time with animals by volunteering at a local shelter. Dogs need walked, cages need cleaned, animals need fed and pet.

If you want to read more, here are some of the things that I learned through pet ownership.

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