The pitter-patter of furry feet
Some people say a house isn’t a home without a cat (or a dog, a fish, a lizard, a bird or a hamster!). If you’ve been toying with the idea of adding a four-legged friend to your family, we have some suggestions to consider while you search for the perfect companion.
- Remember that the commitment to a pet should be for their lifetime. Shelters and rescue organizations are full of animals that have been surrendered by their owners, and while sometimes it’s for very good reason (if the owner has passed away or can no longer physically care for the pet, for example), more often it’s because the owners didn’t realize how much money, time and effort went into training and caring for a pet.
- Do your research. If you’re positive you want a dog, for example, research the breeds you’re interested in. Make sure that the size, temperament and energy level of your chosen breed suits you and your family. Thoroughly research the care and commitment required for any animal you are considering. Remember that cats can live into their 20s, and smaller breed dogs well into their teens.
- Consider the cost. A pet isn’t just a one-time investment. You will have to pay for food, supplies, grooming and veterinary care for the rest of the animal’s life. Make sure you’re able to afford the animal you want, and if not, consider something smaller and less expensive to maintain.
- Think about your environment. You might want a big dog, but if you live in an apartment and there’s no one home all day to give it the exercise and attention it needs in order to stay healthy and happy, a cat, rabbit or guinea pig might be better suited to your home.
- Plan for the future. If you are a senior, consider ensuring that there is someone who can care for your pet in the event that you are no longer able to. It’s also a nice idea to set aside some money in your will to care for your animals should they outlive you.
- Think about a rescue. There are many reputable breeders who can sell you a healthy animal of your choice, but give some thought to rescuing an animal that has been surrendered to a shelter or rescue group. Visit your local humane society, or look up rescue groups online such as Forever Home Cat Rescue in Oakville, Ontario, Austin Dog Rescue in Texas, or Small Angels Rescue (guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats and mice) in Maryland. These animals are waiting for good homes and deserve a chance to be loved. Petfinder is another great site that allows you to search by location and choose the breed, gender and age of animal you’re interested in adopting in order to narrow down your search for you.
- Get some been-there-done-that advice. Speak to other pet owners about their experiences with the kind of animal you want to bring into your home, and consider making an appointment with your local vet to talk about the kinds of health and care needs that particular animal may have.
Animals bring unconditional love, joy, and whimsy to our lives. According to WebMD , petting your cat or dog can even lower your blood pressure and help your body release the relaxation hormone while cutting down on levels of a stress hormone.
There are dozens of good reasons to add an animal to your home, so do your research, choose the pet that’s right for you and your family and enjoy years of companionship and love with your new best friend.
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