It’s summer, which means basically every animal shelter/pet store will be hosting adoption fairs. In this season, it’s hard to turn a street corner without stumbling on heartbreakingly cute kittens. If you happen to escape running into many of those, all the parks, beaches, and remotely open spaces, chances are you’ll meet roughly a thousand cute dogs. Who wouldn’t consider taking one home? But we 20-somethings live a lifestyle that’s not necessarily compatible with the commitment of becoming a pet parent. Here are a few things to consider before getting a pet in your 20s.
Spontaneous Adventures Are In The Past
We all love to take random, spur of the moment weekend trips. You know when you and a group of friends just all of a sudden decide you are taking a trip to the beach, or city, or countryside, and you pack up that Friday night, and don’t get back until Sunday? Well, once you get a dog or cat, that isn’t so easy anymore. As a pet parent, you’ll have to get someone to look after your fur-baby, and finding that responsible and reliable person (and not part of the group that you’re traveling with) just hours before you leave is damn near impossible. Even if you do have a go-to petsitter, they typically like a few days advance notice.
Moving Becomes Harder
Your 20s usually mean a lot of moving and a lot of renting and along with your usual dream apartment requests (hello, balcony!), once you get a fur baby, you’ll need to make sure that perfect home will allow you to have pets. And, even if they do, you may need to pay an extra fee to have them.
You’re Limiting Your Dating Pool
Tinder has been instructive as to just how many people are allergic to cats and therefore, undatable. Because we are not giving up our cats. #noregrets #sorrynotsorry
Also, you know the late-honeymoon stage of dating where you basically live together? If you have a cat, that had better be at your place, or else your neglected cat will revenge-pee somewhere.
Are You Ready to Be a Parent?
There’s a reason a lot of people call their pets their starter children—they require nearly as much work and quite a bit of financial obligations. You are exclusively reliable for their welfare and health. That means getting up in the middle of the night to take a puppy outside, paying close enough attention to know when something might be wrong with them, and making sure your home and surroundings are a safe environment for them. You have to think about whether you’ve left small bottle caps lying around for cats or puppies to choke on, if they could get out of that cracked window, and if there’s anything toxic they can get to (lilies from your partner? Poisonous to cats). For a dog, do you have the ability to come home for lunch to let them out and/or take them to doggy care? Don’t think of this as just a fun adventure but a lifetime commitment.
Can You Afford It?
Animals come with a wide variety of health problems, even the seemingly healthiest of them. Beyond yearly vaccinations, flea and tick medicine, heartworm pills, and the like, emergencies happen. Do you have the ability to spontaneously throw hundreds to thousands of dollars at a vet bill? Don’t think it could happen to you? A friend’s Great Dane escaped her yard and was hit by a car to the tune of a couple thousand dollars and multiple surgeries just last month. Both my Labs have had to have multiple, extremely expensive surgeries due to blowing out their ACL’s from playing too hard in the yard. Accidents happen and if you can’t afford them, you shouldn’t own a pet whose life might depend upon it.
Do You Have the Time?
Pets don’t exist to be there when it’s convenient for you. If you’re working long hours and going out afterwards, your pet is sitting at home alone. While you adopted them to be your companions, the same is true for them. They need attention, love, and your time. They’re not a toy to just pull out when you want them. Make sure your life has the time and space available to make their forever home a happy place.
Can You Keep It Clean?
This might seem to be a ridiculous question, but much like humans, most pets will thrive in a semi-clean/organized environment. Plus, if you don’t keep your place clean then your human friends really won’t want to visit your fur-infested stinky apartment. Having a pet means you have to up your cleaning game because the journey never ends. It’s best to always have an extra roll of paper towels, a bottle of carpet spot cleaner, and some all-purpose cleaner (like 409) on hand. But, let’s face it, no matter how much you clean, you will still ingest fur on the regular.
Are you ready to share? Everything?
Having a little extra company around your home can be comforting, but pets aren’t content with a quick conversation over breakfast or the occasional movie night in. No, they want to eat your breakfast food (even the silverware), take over the entire couch (not just that empty couch cushion) and after that, your bed. Kittens don’t understand the difference between a scratching post and your bed post and dogs don’t want to fetch you your slippers; they want to eat them. Say goodbye to your personal space, alone time, and your favorite blue sweater—these four-footed furballs want it all and aren’t OK with compromise.