Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What To Expect When Adopting A Pet, Part I

“Mommy, this followed me home. Can I keep it?”
“Aww, but it's sooooo cute!”
“But Johnny down the street has a dog. Why can't I have one too?”
“Mom, if you get this for me, I'll take care of it. Pinkie swear!”

Have you ever heard these things from your kids? The likely answer is yes. You may be tempted to say yes, but adopting a pet isn't something to be done on a whim. For this reason, I'm going to give you a few things to think about when you're getting a pet. You probably have already thought about these things, but your kids may not have.

Cost. I'm not just talking about the initial costs, although I highly advise getting your new pet from an animal shelter rather than buying from a pet store. Think of what it will cost to feed your pet, general vet bills, maintenance items such as litter boxes, things to line a cage, fences, etc. These expenses can add up over time, especially when you have multiple pets or have to buy things like cat litter on a regular basis.

Also, your pet may turn up to have special needs as it grows older. For instance, the beautiful feline above-Slater-has a urinary issue that required surgery and special food. There was no way for anyone to know about this when we got him, so it's not a matter of the shelter being dishonest-another important consideration. This probably wouldn't have kept us from adopting him because my husband fell in love with him on sight, but sometimes the costs can be prohibitive.

Maintenance. This is especially important to consider when adopting an exotic pet such as a lizard or rodent. For instance, chinchillas cannot be given water baths, but have to roll around in a special type of dust you get from the pet store. The dust isn't cheap! As for cats, who's going to scoop the litter box every day? I love my kitties, but this isn't exactly a fun task. Also, cat litter can get expensive. Cats tend to 'house-break' themselves, but teaching a dog to use the bathroom outside rather than on your floor takes a lot of time and patience. Your children may swear up and down that they will do all of these things, but you're probably going to end up doing the glut of the work.

Pets also need care and attention. While some pets are more affectionate than others, your kids can't stop paying attention to them just because they aren't cute anymore. The novelty of having a lizard for a pet eventually wears off. The same thing goes for chicks and baby rabbits some people get around Easter, which ends up very badly for the pet. Pets can have relatively long lifespans, which means that they will need to be cared for for several years running. Puppies don't stay puppies and kittens don't stay kittens. This is probably obvious to you, but something kids might not think of in advance. 

Since there are so many things to think of when getting a pet, this continues in the next post.

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