Pets here, pets there, pets everywhere. You’re green with envy having religiously followed Instagram accounts chronicling the adventures of pets. They’re incredibly cute, seem to be able to do a lot of tricks and shower their humans with a lot of love. Before you know it, you find your cold heart warm and you feel like you want in on the pet owning experience.
In this series, we will look at various factors to consider before becoming a pet owner. After all, pets - yes even so-called ‘low maintenance’ pets like cats - do actually include a lot of work on the part of the caretaker. Kind of like parenting, but switching a human baby for an animal. Unfortunately, however, countless pets are abandoned on a daily basis thanks to half or ill-informed first-time pet owners who didn’t bother to spend at least 10 minutes researching about it. So what are some things you should know before becoming a pet owner? Read on to find out.
1. Are you ready to say ‘I do’?
Owning a pet is a huge commitment. Yes, really. It means you will have to rethink your social life and your vacation days. Bye bye spontaneous holidays with the boys. Unless you have someone reliable who will be willing to pet sit, you should forget trying to get a pet. Also daily walks, medications and vaccinations etc. You can’t just decide to skip these responsibilities, especially because they may be the difference between life and death (vaccinations prevent your pet from acquiring life-threatening infections they are prone to). In order for your pet to grow into a healthy adult, they will require plenty of exercise and nourishment.
2. Is there compatibility?
Do the questions make you feel like you’re looking for a life partner? Well, your pet is very much like one. Outdoorsy type? Don’t get a bulldog and expect it to join you on your daily jogs or hikes. It’s never going to happen. Couch potato? You’ll drive your husky to destroy all your possessions in your home due to a blatant lack of an outlet for all that energy. Live in an apartment? Your great Dane is not going to fit.
3. Is your home pet friendly?
Electric cords, chewing gum, medicine lying around? You’ll have to find a way to clear them up or hide them from view as they can be extremely dangerous and toxic for your pet. Moreover, pets - especially baby animals - constantly run into things, so tables with sharp edges, for instance, will cause grievous harm. They may also knock over your expensive china. So there’s also the fact that you will have to be open to the fact that your pet will, at least once in its life, destroy some of your possessions.
4. Will you be patient?
As a pet owner, you will need patience. Loads of it. Especially during the adjustment period. Your home will be new to your pet, so there will be plenty of crying. Many pets will also refuse food and hide.
5. Will you expect the sun and the moon?
Not all pets are the same, and much like humans, have different personalities and energy levels. Not all pets will learn as fast or be willing to do any tricks. Depending on the age of the animal, training will take a lot of time. So don’t expect your pet to be able to do everything pets on social media do.
6. Have you consulted vets and other pet owners?
You will never know what to expect from your pet unless you’ve spoken to experts and those who have them. Every pet is an angel on Instagram. Much like humans, these pets are portrayed in the best of light. The downsides are almost never shown. Talking to pet owners will give you a more realistic expectation of what it’s like to coexist with your pets.
7. Til death do us part?
Baby animals are the absolute cutest. Even a person who hates pets will agree. But that baby face you fell in love with will mature. The tiny pup will grow up to be humongous. The energetic kitten will grow into a cat that loves naps and relaxation. So if you haven't considered these - very obvious - aspects and don’t see yourself accepting the fact that change WILL come, then do any prospective pets a favour and don't get any.