Hannah’s Guide to Getting a Pet

Getting a pet, to me, is a rite of passage into adulthood.

It’s the first time you’re taking responsibility for something other than yourself (and, if you’re like me, you’re hardly taking care of yourself). Maybe you want the company. Maybe you want the protection. Maybe you need the comfort. Maybe you’re looking for a way to meet cute guys at the dog park – no judgement!

But getting a pet is a huge commitment! So I’m here to walk you through it.

First, you’ve got to find your pet. I’m only going to go over shelter animals, because we have way too many cats and dogs on the streets so don’t you dare buy from a puppy mill!!! (Also, who can afford that??)

My favorite site to find pets is petfinder.com. You can filter for the type of pet you want and its age and even breed! But another great way to find pets is through shelters’ facebook and instagram pages! If you just google local shelters, you can find look for their social media on their website.

My experience is with cats, but I assume it’s similar with dogs – kittens/puppies can be a lot of work – especially puppies. Both will need basically constant attention and playtime, and puppies you’ll have to train. Both will probably make a mess. My advice is to get an older animal that’s at least 1 or 2 – that way you can also get a feel for their personality, while it’s often hard to tell with baby animals. Remember, getting a pet can be a 10-20 year commitment, so it’s important you get along with your pet!

If you’re resolved to get a puppy or kitten, then you have to be willing to put in the money (if not in training then in protecting your furniture). Kittens do much better with other kittens, so you might want to at least foster a second kitten.

Fostering can also be a great idea if you’re not sure a pet is right for you. That way you can get used to their personality and experience what it’s like to have a pet without committing! However, if you foster a kitten or puppy, it can again be a lot of work.

It’s also important to keep in mind that not all apartments allow pets. If you struggle with anxiety, depression, PTSD or a similar issue, you can usually get an ESA from your therapist to register your pet as an emotional support animal, and then (unless the owner of the building has serious allergies) they’ll pretty much have to allow you to have the pet even if the building doesn’t normally. (This also applies to pet deposits and rents being waived if you have an ESA).

Other things to keep in mind:

-vet bills and pet insurance (both my cats got sick and needed lots of vet care – you have to be ready for this burden)

-if you get a dog, make sure you have lots of space in your neighborhood for them to walk

-if you get a dog, make sure you have roommates or a dog walker or some way they won’t be home alone all day

-if you already have a pet, make sure you introduce the new pet before committing!!

-keep in mind if you’ll be moving or traveling – will the pet have a place to stay?

The last thing you want to have to do is re-home a pet. If you give a pet back when they’re older, it’s much less likely someone else will adopt them. Make sure you know what you’re committing to!!

That being said, pets are a great way to reduce anxiety and bring joy to your life!!

I prefer cats and dogs, but things like guinea pigs, hamsters, and reptiles can be good if you’re looking for a cleaner, shorter time commitment pet. These are okay to get at somewhere like Petsmart, but don’t fool yourself that it’ll be like having a cat or dog – unless you let it roam free (and then be prepared for the mess), it’s simply not the same. They’re also much harder to rehome if you change your mind.

You with your new pets:

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