Do You Have Pet-tential?

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A new furry best friend can liven up your life and give you a stronger sense of responsibility. However, adopting a pet requires proper finances, time and understanding of how that animal’s life will become intertwined with your own. For a dog or cat, love and a sense of stability is one of the best things that you can give them. How do you know if you are ready for a pet in college?

Living and Finances

The first step to deciding whether to take in a new housemate is to look at your home. An animal’s size, living style and cost as well as your own roommates, if you live with other people, are all factors in establishing if an animal can fit into your life. Ensure that your apartment or house allows animals and that the animal of your choice fits into that space. For a small apartment, a small animal would be ideal. If you decide to adopt a dog, find a dog park or trail where you can walk your dog and play with them. If you still want a furry friend who does not go outside, consider an indoor cat, guinea pig or hamster.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a cat costs around $53 per month. According to The Spruce Pets, the average monthly cost of owning a dog can be anywhere from $125 to $824. Adoption costs will vary from shelter to shelter, and it is crucial to include some extra money in your pet plan just in case there are unexpected veterinarian visits or medicine needed for your friend. 

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Routine and Care

Puppies and kittens require home training with lots of care, attention and patience. Puppies cannot be left alone for long periods of time. If you are going to be out of the house for more than a few hours and do not know anyone who could check on your puppy, it may not be the right time to invest in a new furry friend. Before adopting, you should plan out plenty of special time for your pet. Even as an animal grows older, it is important that they have a few hours per day with you.

“If you are interested in having a dog, you have to make time for the dog,” Christine Faust, Director of Development and Marketing at Centre County PAWS, said. 

The average cost of owning a cat may be less expensive, and cats typically have a reputation of needing less daily attention than dogs. Nevertheless, personality can vary from cat to cat; therefore, adopting a new pet requires you to take the time to get to know what the pet likes and dislikes. If your cat likes to be on their own, it may be okay to leave them for a few hours without attention; however, younger kittens and even some older cats still require attention and love even into their older years.

Establishing a routine with your pet is a great way to help them get acclimated to your home. If you have a consistent routine in your personal life, it may be a great time to introduce an animal into that routine. Letting your pet out to use the bathroom, taking them for a walk or playing with them at the same time every day are great ways to establish a routine with them and help them feel more comfortable. Consistent love and support is key.

Looking Forward

According to the American Humane Society, “With good care, most dogs can live 12 to 15 years and most cats can live 15 to 20 years, so it is critical that you consider what is likely to be happening in your own life over the next 15 to 20 years — before you adopt a pet.”

Where will you be in five years? If you moved to a busy city after graduation, would you have an apartment large enough for a dog? Be confident that your housing and living situation will be consistent for the pet’s lifetime or prioritize that your future housing will allow pets. Frequent moving, travel or a complete lifestyle change from a small college town to a bustling city can upset your pet’s routine or cause you to have less time fo them, so it is important to consider your future and how that will change your pet’s life.

If your living situation, future plans or finances are too inconsistent as a college student, Centre County PAWS offers a fostering program. Having a “test run” with an animal is a great way to decide if pet parenting is a realistic for your schedule. Furthermore, it will allow you to fulfill that need for a furry friend during a time where your routine is only temporary.

Do you have a pet? Tweet us, @VALLEYmag, a picture of your bestie!

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