Whether you’re considering the adoption of a Great Dane or a hamster, owning a pet requires a list of responsibilities and expenses to think through first. Cuteness overload can obstruct decision making skills and blur reality while you’re standing in a pet store staring into the eyes of a potential new ball of fluff, but it’s super important to take a step back and consider the impact of a furry friend on your life.
Have you considered the cost?
Adopted cats and dogs generally acquire over $1000 in costs over the course of the first year. [i] These costs mostly come from vet visits for spaying/neutering, medical exams and vaccinations, but also come from food and miscellaneous costs (leash, carrying crate, toys, cat litter, etc.). Annual pet expenses after the first year can still amount to over $500 with a healthy cat or dog, and this cost doesn’t account for any serious illness or injuries, which can amount to upwards of $1000.[ii] Obviously smaller, nontraditional pets like hamsters, snakes, lizards, rabbits, rats, etc. generally cost less, but they can accumulate a surprising amount of expenditures as well.
Time Commitment and Lifestyle
Maybe you’re considering a dog or cat because it seems like the “next step” in life or your relationship. Think this through! What is your lifestyle like? Do you party on the weekends? Go to happy hour after work? Travel for your job or weekend travel for fun? Kennel and pet sitter costs can rack up extremely fast, especially if you’re in a city. Cats are easier to leave at home all day by themselves, but dogs require more attention, not to mention the training that’s necessary in the puppy stages to help them adapt to your work life (potty training isn’t just for children!). Your lifestyle will determine additional costs for your animals, and it’s important to do research on these costs before you dive into pet parenting.
Hairballs, slobber, and poop
It’s hard to imagine a kitten the size of your hand doing anything that could be considered “gross.” If you’re anything like me, I adore kittens but don’t love the idea of them turning into cats. I don’t like cat hair or muddy paw prints on my clothes or furniture, which is inevitable with almost every kind of cat and dog. If you live with roommates or a significant other, it’s a good idea to talk about cleanliness expectations for your living space to avoid problems with your pet/roommate situation down the road.
Yours, Mine & Ours
The thought of co-parenting sounds much more affordable for both your time and money, whether it’s with roommates or a significant other. Sharing is caring and in the moment it is exciting to co-adopt, but consider plans for disagreements and even relationship termination. Plans can always evolve, but it’s a mature step to have a verbal agreement about who the animal will go with if things don’t end up as planned.
If you feel financially and emotionally ready for a pet, then go for it! If not, there will always be animals who need be adopted and you can wait until you feel more confident about pet ownership. In the meantime, you could try plant parenting—succulents are the latest craze!