6 Questions to ask yourself before getting a pet
Having a pet is a big shift in your life. Whether you decide to adopt a kitten, or you go to the shelter and bring home a puppy, it’s true that your life will change. Hopefully for the better, but there are definitely some things that happen in your life.
So before you adopt a kitten or a puppy, or a dog or even a bird…make sure you ask yourself these six questions. They will probably save you a lot in the long run!
Why Do I Want A Pet?
First, let’s start with an easy one. Why do you want to get a pet? And they way you decide to answer it really should help you decide if a pet is the right choice for you.
Chances are you may decide you want a pet because you are lonely, you want something to take care of, or maybe you already have a pet picked out that is tugging at your heart strings which is why you want a pet.
Here is my challenge for you. Write it down. I want a pet because… and think about it.
Because if you answer it with something like, ‘I want a puppy because my friend has a puppy and it seems like what I need to do to fit in,’ or ‘I want to take pictures with my dog at local shops for Instagram’, then a pet is not the best fit for you.
You may be asking. Why does it matter the “why” behind it? Because we all have this unrealistic picture of owning a pet in our head. For some it is, cuddling up with a dog on a rainy day or having a cat sit on your lap while you are watching a movie.
And while those are great. Those moments are just that moments. They are pockets of owning a pet. And if your only reason for wanting a pet is for those pockets, then they may not be a good fit for you. Because with those moments come other moments. Like having to take your dog to go to the bathroom on those rainy days. Or your cat walking across your computer screen while you are trying to work.
So if your reason behind getting a pet is for something bigger than just small moments, then those not so fun moment won’t be as hard for you.
Let me give you my example. With Phoebe, my oldest cat, I knew I wanted a pet for a while. I was lonely in an apartment and wanted something to keep me company. I just had not gotten around to looking for a pet, when she quite literally stumbled into my lap.
And because I knew I wanted a pet because I wanted a companion and something to keep me busy, it made the bad moments bearable. Like cleaning out her litter box. Or, a top favorite, when we were driving in the car and she threw up in my hand. (Yes, that really happened).
Because even those not so fun moment, I wasn’t lonely or alone. Which was what I wanted.
Do I Know What Kind of Pet I Want?
The second question you need to ask for that first tough one is decided on what KIND of pet you want.
Are there are SO many layers to that question. Do you want a cat, dog, bird, hamster? With that question you have to decide not only level of care you want, but also the level of company you expect. Hamsters and birds are probably the easiest pets to have. Make sure they have enough food and a clean space, and they can live your own life.
But with that also comes the fact that they will live their own lives as well. So you won’t likely be cuddling on the couch with your hamster (although I did with mine). But you also don’t have to take them out in the pouring rain to go to the bathroom.
Cats and dogs are deeper questions that you need to ask yourself. How often am I going to have to leave my pet? Dogs have to be let out every few hours, so if you plan to leave for long hours every day, a dog may not be right for you. (Or you have to be willing to budget doggy day care or a dog sitter which we will talk about later).
And then you have other questions to answer like what size dog do you want? Different cat breeds, different dog breeds, what gender is best in cats, how you want to adopt, and so much more.
Make sure you really think about all those factors when deciding, it will make the adoption process a lot easier. And some of those questions may be easier than others.
Some you may not care about like the gender, breed or how you adopt them. (And that is PERFECTLY FINE!). But if it does matter, make sure you think about that before starting the adoption process.
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How Long Do I Want A Pet?
So I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but let’s ask ourselves another tough question. All pets have different lifespans. And if you don’t understand the lifespan it could be a tough situation you put yourself in.
Let’s go back to the example of the dog. You’re lonely because you are working from home for a year and live far away from your friends. It totally makes sense for you to get a dog. Chances are they will add a lot of love and happiness into your life for that year when you otherwise would have been alone.
But dogs live for 7-14 years depending on their size, when you get them and their breed.
So if you adopt a small breed as a puppy, after that year is up and you are back in the office and have moved closer to your friends, will you see want that dog?
And let me be very clear, if you honestly feel so lonely that you feel you need a dog for a year but won’t have time for one after that year is up…that does not mean you cannot get a dog. It is just something you need to be aware of and plan for.
Perhaps instead of adopting, you foster dogs for that year. You get a companion for that period of time, and the dog gets a warm shelter and love until it finds his forever home.
Or maybe you know you will have less time with the dog in a year, so you spend the first year you have together training the dog so that they can go to friends places with you. The options are endless but the question stays the same.
How Will Having a pet change my life?
We talked a lot about hard questions, let’s try and turn to a positive side of things. What affect will a pet have on my life? And chances are you won’t reaaaally know that until you get one. And even then, they will continue to impact your life everyday.
But in the very high level short term you can ask yourself the impacts it will have on you.
Super simply examples.
Pets usually equal companions. So if you hate to sleep alone in your bed, that’s hopefully a big change for you. If you let your pet sleep in the bed with you.
Are you bored out of your mind? Pets provide you with a lot of different ways to entertain yourself! Training them, playing with them, taking pictures of them. Sometimes I even just watch mine sleep! They’re so adorable and not causing trouble when they are sleeping.
Finally, Pets cost money. So the impact of pets could be that you have to adjust your budget to account for their necessities. Maybe you want to take them to doggie daycare, maybe you want to spoil them with all the toys and treats imaginable. All those cost money. Which leads into our next question.
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Can I afford a pet?
Like we mentioned above, pets cost money.
The amount of money you spend on your pet varies greatly. All pets need their necessities which are things such as food, water, and a bed. Dogs need a leash and collar to go outside whereas cats need litter and a litter box to use the restroom.
If money is not a concern of yours, then this question will be a simple one. But if money is already tight for you, this may be one you need to really dive into.
Can I afford their food each month? And their vet visits when they need it? What if they require surgery, will I be able to save up for emergencies?
For dogs they may need doggie daycare if you go into the office for long hours everyday. That is also something to make sure you consider in your budget when thinking about adopting.
If you already have a pet, Will my current pet like my new pet?
Lastly, if you already have a pet, you want to make sure they will still be happy with a new pet. And while you can’t straight out ask them, there are certain mannerisms that you may recognize that will let you know if they are looking for a friend or if a new addition could cause trouble.
Let’s use my family for a few different examples. When I was growing up we had a dog, Jake. He was a little bit of a loner but still wanted to be near us. And when we left, he was always waiting for us to come back. We realized that Jake needed a friend. Someone to play with while we were away and someone to hangout with if we were off in our rooms or not all around.
Phoebe is a cat who likes attention when she wants it given. And having a mother who adores her and cats was something she was not a fan of. So adopting our other cats was a welcome to her. She got to be Alpha, get attention when she wanted it, but if she was sleeping in the room upstairs there were other animals to occupy her parents time.
My last family example is my brother’s dog Woody. Woody is a sweet dog with an old soul who loves to play. Going to the dog park is always a great adventure for him. But he is also a dog who has his people and other animals need to stay away from his people. When they go visit my parents and their animals, Woody gets very jealous if his dad is giving attention to another animal. And that causes a lot of stress for him.
So in Woody’s example, that doesn’t mean my brother cannot ever get another pet. But when he does, he will have to use the questions above to make sure it is an addition that will allow Woody to feel secure in his place with his dad and accepting of the new family member.
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There are a lot of questions we must ask ourselves before adopting a pet. They are a big responsibility and if you are not prepare for it, you can find yourself in trouble sooner rather than later.
So let me ask you two final questions. First, do you feel more ready for a pet? If you do, then great and chances are you will be a great pet owner! I hope you find the perfect pet for you and they add joy and happiness to your life.
My final question is, what did I miss? If you had someone ask you one question before adopting a pet that is not in here, tell me below in the comments! I have gathered these questions from a number of fellow pet owners, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have an excellent question that you always ask your friends and family! So share it below! You never know how much it could help someone.