Recently I was walking down the street when I saw a sign in a pet supply store for a Kitten Adopt-a-thon. A litter of feral kittens had been found nearby and brought in for people to adopt. I had been thinking about a kitten or a cat for some time, and went in to look. It was hard, but I walked out again without a cat, and a promise to research further on what it would mean to bring a cat into my life. Many people who are embarking on their lives as an independent person think about adopting animals, especially if they don’t interact with people a lot, perhaps thanks to long work hours or going to school online. However, many people adopt without thinking too much about what that commitment means. Before you run off to the Humane Society or look up a breeder, there are some things you need to consider.
Size and Lifespan
While all baby animals are cute and cuddly, they do have a tendency to grow up. For example, if your new puppy is a mixed breed, you should have some idea of what those breeds are so you can determine how large your dog will grow. Some people who think they’ve adopted a miniature terrier breed are surprised when their pooches grow into something akin to Rex the Wonder Dog. Your dog may grow too large for his environment, too large for your small apartment, and just plain too large for you to handle, so first and foremost make sure you know what you’re getting into size-wise.
One way to combat this is getting an adult pet who has already grown into their maximum size. Adult animals are usually much easier to care for as you don’t have to train them, and have clearly manifested personalities so you know just what you’re in for. It is also a nicer thing to do; everyone loves to adopt kittens and puppies, but older and perfectly wonderful animals can often go unnoticed for ages.
This is not to say that young animals aren’t worth getting either, but remember, it’s often a 15-20 year investment. If you work outside of home, it can be difficult to keep them happy, especially during the first couple weeks of transition. A lonely animal can be inadvertently destructive. Many people combat this in the case of cats by getting two or more so they can keep each other occupied while you’re gone, but the veterinary bills may double as a result.
The Cost of Proper Care And Maintenance Can Get Expensive
Forget how much your animal cost to adopt in the first place. That figure is nowhere near what it will take to keep your pet healthy, well maintained, and happy. Your financial position should be a guide and serve as some sort of restraint when it comes to deciding whether you can really afford your little darling. Often, you and your vet will end up on a first name basis. You should have your animal spayed or neutered to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Your new pet will need annual shots, boosters and some sort of regular maintenance schedule. Will you clean and brush his teeth regularly? If not, be prepared to dish out nearly $200 for a professional cleaning. Vet fees are about equivalent to your doctor’s fees. If something serious happens to your pet, can you afford the operation, perhaps by a specialist? Should you consider pet health insurance?
Your dog or cat may also have grooming needs as well. Trimming cat claws or giving them a bath can endanger life and limb, and many dogs are less than compliant when it comes to brushing. If you aren’t prepared to keep up with that sort of maintenance yourself, plan to spend $30 to $50 on average for a haircut, and another $10 or so for nail trimming. Many dogs should also attend obedience school to learn proper socialization as well as common commands, and that can cost at least $25 per lesson. Add that all up, as well as proper chow for your pet, and it’s easy to see how taking care of your pet can really put a dent in your finances. Think about how much money you have available for the specific needs of the kind of animal you want, and check if that’s a commitment you can feasibly make.
Do You Like Travel and Leisure?
Forget it, or at least forget the cruises, resorts, and foreign visits. Dogs aren’t welcome at most high-end destinations, and traveling with animals is expensive and often prohibitively difficult. Some hotels are dog-friendly, and yes you can take your pooch on a plane for about $200 or so, but what do you do when you get to your destination? Sure you can have him boarded for $25 and up per day, but how will the dog feel about being suddenly relocated and then separated from you for most of the day? Asking friends and relatives to pet-sit will work for awhile, but if they get sick of it professional sitters are another expense.
It is also a problem if you don’t own a home of your own. Many landlords do not allow even small pets , and even if they do they often ask a fee of $150 or more to bring it home. Besides even just finding a place to live with your pet, moving can be a great strain too, as it will often stress your animal out greatly and even cause them to run away.
Besides that, owning an animal will often change your schedule. Many people with dogs are no longer able to sleep in on the weekends, as even if it’s raining sleet outside the dog will still need to go to the bathroom. Cats will often wake you up in the early hours demanding to be fed, and a hamster will often be at its most active at night, so if there is anything in its cage that makes noise you may want earplugs.
Everyone knows the benefits of having a pet. They are wonderful companions, and can provide entertainment and exercise as well as love. On the other hand, if all this sounds like it’s more than you want to take on at this time in your life, consider adopting a virtual pet for starters.