I got my first cat four days before my 16th birthday. I had him when I got my driver’s license, when I went through my first break-up, when I moved to Lethbridge, through countless all-nighters writing papers, through everything. His name is Big Cat and he sleeps at the foot of my bed every night.
Here’s the thing: in University, a lot of people are on their own for the first time and decide they want pets. I love animals. I’ve had hamsters, rabbits, chinchillas, geckos, snakes, a bearded dragon, dogs and frogs. And my cat. Pets are wonderful – they love you unconditionally, they’re cute, they’re fun… but there are a lot of things to think about before you rush out to PetLand and come home with an adorable kitten or puppy.
1. They take a lot of work. When pets are young, they need you around ALL THE TIME. Puppies need to be let out in the middle of the day, kittens are tiny and need to be monitored. Do you have time to come home and do that? If you’re out too much with friends or studying too much in the library, this may not be the best time to have a pet.
2. Pet-friendly rentals. If you’re renting, having a pet (even a small pet) can be a huge issue. I never even thought about this until I had to scour the OCH website and Kijiji, only to discover that the majority of nice places in Lethbridge didn’t want my cats. Or they did, for a huge fee. It’s worth it, for sure, but I know there have been times that my roommates have been frustrated when these great places have passed us by because I have cats.
3. Pets are expensive! There is no such thing as a “free kitten” or a “free puppy.” Those adorable things need shots, they need to be spayed/neutered, they need food and toys and brushes and nail clippers and litter boxes… I spend between $60-70 a month on my cats, and getting them fixed was $300-$500 right off the bat. It’s definitely something to keep in mind.
4. You can’t travel, because what will happen to your pets? I’m going to the Netherlands in January (hopefully), and I have to figure our somewhere to leave my cats. That’s a huge favour to ask of someone! “Can you watch my cats? For four months?” That’s a big commitment. If no one could take them, then what? Pets can be like children, in a sense. They tie you down fairly locally, and it’s another life to consider.
So now that I’ve told you all the reasons not to have pets, I hope you take those into consideration. My cat is a wonderful pet. He’s sweet and cuddly and very laid-back, and I don’t regret having him for a second, even though there have been complications. But before you jump into pet ownership, just make sure you know that’s right for you!
Also, it’s the last full week of Summer Session I! (Thank goodness!)