I really want a dog! I really want a cat!
Owning a companion animal can be extremely rewarding. They unconditionally love us, offer companionship and friendship that can rival no other.
However, too often many people decide to acquire a dog or cat with their "eyes wide shut". There are many factors to consider before you even choose what type of dog or cat you want in your household. This is a huge commitment of responsibility, time, money and unconditional love that many people don't realize.
We put together information to help you make the decision that will best suit your lifestyle and family environment. There are still more factors that we did not dedicate a separate section for that should consider such as:
Although we have dedicated sections to costs, keep in mind that besides an annual vet visit every year and food, people spend quite a bit of money when it comes to a variety of other medical and non-medical expenses. There are a lot of lists of "ownership costs" found through out the internet but a few that are not mentioned often include: vacation care, accidents that need medical attention, licenses from municipalities, exercise gear, and puppy or anxiety destruction, puppy gear, aging costs and, yes, rental costs if you rent property (many apartments require a deposit or extra money for having a companion animal). We will address the "hidden" costs in our general costs topic but its something that most people overlook.
Whether its classical or non-classical training, you will be training your companion to live within your household under certain parameters. Examples of non-classical training includes potty training for dogs or teaching your new kitten what scratching areas are acceptable. This type of training takes time, especially with puppies. More formal training for dogs usually lasts 6-8 weeks in 1-2 hour sessions.
Hollus remembers when she first decided to get a dog. she had a friend say to me "keep in mind you will not be able to meet us out for happy hour on Fridays anymore". She was right to an extent. Before Hollus went out socializing, she also had to go home and socialize with my dog, feed him and make sure he went to the bathroom. she couldn't stay out all night dancing because at some point my dog had to have another potty break. Although cats are a little more independent, we know several cat owners that say how much their cat misses them if they are out of the house too much and will either become destructive or demand attention. The moral of the story is that your time will be at home more than you may have anticipated.
Socializing is a huge part of a dog's and cat's life. They need physical and mental stimulation that toys will not be able to fully provide as discussed in our Enrichment area. Even if you live in the suburbs versus the city, your animals will need exercise that cannot necessarily be met hanging out in a back yard. We have to remember that dogs live in packs and thus are extremely social. Being home alone or without all their pack members can ware on them. Even though cats are perceived to be more independent, bottom line, they are hunters. Being home alone all day in a house that is quiet or offers no hunting opportunities will not allow them to express their natural instincts. Thus, be prepared to set time aside every day to play with your furry kids.
Another large time commitment revolves around organizing a personal vacation. Your vacation will require more planning and a bit more money with companion animals. If they go on vacation with you there are always costs associated with hotel, transportation equipment and possibly anxiety medication. For those furry kids staying home, you must find a house sitter or boarding facility. Either way, you will have to plan a few hours of extra prep time before you leave and after you come back from vacation.
Ok this statement probably sounds bizarre to you but it really is true. There will come a time that your furry kid will destroy something you love or need. They will inevitably vomit or have a potty accident in the house. These are times that you have to remind yourself why you wanted your companion animal to begin with and that the material objects can be replaced or cleaned.
Hollus spent one summer restoring an old antique chair her mom found at a garage sale. Reilly was 3 years old at the time. Out of the blue, one afternoon, he decided that he was not happy being home alone for a few hours and ate the chair's hand carved arm. Ten years and a few hundred dollars later, she finally is having the chair fixed by an antique refinisher.