What advantages or disadvantages are there to having a pet in your life?
“Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.” George Eliot
As I sat near the local pier watching the sunset, a sleek Siamese cat came up from the beach and looked at me with her bright blue eyes. I hoped that she belonged to someone nearby, but what if she was lost? Should I bring her home? Then I thought of the cat I was nursing for flea allergies. Could I bring this cat home knowing that she might have fleas or other contagious diseases? Luckily, she gave me a look of disdain that seemed to say, “I’m an independent cat and I don’t need you to rescue me.” I went home hoping that after her nightly hunt she had a loving owner waiting for her.
I heard from people with a variety of pets who all agree that no matter if your pet has four legs, fur, fins, feathers, shells or scales they have a positive influence on our lives. However, there were interesting comments on the downside of pet ownership that need to be considered when deciding on what type of pet you want or if you can afford to provide the pet with the environment, maintenance and care they need and deserve. Since these mainly stress the negatives, I’ll deal with how we greatly benefit from having pets in our lives in my next blog.
I live in an apartment and have decided that I wanted a small, inside pet. Luckily, my previously inside-outside cat agreed. However, there are people in my complex who have two large pit bulls in a one bedroom apartment. Although this is against the rules, the managers turn a blind eye to it, because they want to keep the units full. In my opinion, even if you walk large dogs on a regular basis and take them out for an occasional run, these living conditions are cruel and unusual punishment. I feel that larger animals need more space. You wouldn’t put a small horse in an apartment, so why would it accommodate two large dogs and an adult or two. Also, would you want to be the tenant who lives next door to dogs that bark? There are howlers next to me. At night they start howling when their owner leaves at 3 a.m.. I mean loud,” I’m being beaten”, howls. Imagine waking up from a deep sleep to this. It scares the bejeebers out of me. Now before you label me a dog hater, think about what the animal is going through just so the owner can have ”man’s best friend” nearby. If you want a dog, provide them with the space they need. So many other pets thrive in a smaller setting. One reader has domesticated rats which she loves dearly. During my lifetime I’ve enjoyed the company of similar members of the rodent family and other small pets at home and in my classroom. There are rescue group sites for many animal species and the ASPCA, https://www.aspca.org, offers information on this and all aspects of raising any type of furry pal. I’m just saying, small places are better for small or caged pets.
Maintenance and Care
Usually the rule of thumb is the smaller the pet, the lower the maintenance. However, it could be argued that big dogs are easier to care for in the area of excrement. They go outside and do their business, if they’re well trained and taken out regularly. Caged animals or cats poop inside. That leads to indoor smells and problems with disposal. Luckily, kitty litter has improved over the years and some people are lucky enough to have convenient spots to put a cat box. Some have even trained their cat to use the toilet. My cat has her own half bath, but isn’t potty trained, and has had a door leading to the garage in the past. There are several sites and books devoted to potty training your cat. Here’s one to help with the search, http://www.kittygoespotty.com/how-to-toilet-train-cat.php. Be prepared to spend extra in this department if you have an inside pet. The trade off is that you don’t have to follow an animal’s schedule if nature calls in the middle of the night. Animals that spend all of their time outside are even easier. A friend of mine has a donkey. Others have larger animals like horses and their manure can be used to improve their garden. Of course, you have to pick it up to get it there. If you’re a responsible dog owner living in a populated area, you also remove your dog’s droppings. I wonder if this is easier than a cleaning a cat box or cage.
Another part of maintenance is the dreaded vet. These often hated professionals are a necessary evil for shots and the terrifying, but often crucial, spaying or neutering. They’re also your pet’s savior when they’re in pain or near death. I don’t like to go to the vet either. I’d rather take myself to the dentist than take my cat to the vet. I’ve insurance for myself, but have found that pet insurance doesn’t cover much of the expense associated with your pet’s illness and some have stipulations as to what flea and tick products they cover.
That leads me to pest control. I’ve found that even in an apartment a cat can get fleas. They come in on your pants and just one bite can make a highly allergic cat, like mine, a hairless, scaly mess. If you’re allergic they can also make you miserable. You end up buying endless products and cleaning everything in your home over and over again. Ticks ride into your house on your pet too. With Lyme Disease becoming a real problem in many states, prevention becomes extremely important for our pets and us. The bottom line is that although pest control is expensive, it’s important for you and your pet. Just make sure you buy tested products from trusted manufactures.
If you’re considering a pet, it’s also important to consider food, cages, toys and other supplies. Sometimes you’re buying the item because you think your pet will like it. I have cat toys sitting around gathering dust, but many cats play with their toys and get a lot of exercise. Maybe my cat and I need a wheel like hamsters. We both need to lose a few pounds. Dogs seem to appreciate toys more, but then they appreciate everything you do for them more than cats. It’s been said,” Dogs have owners, but cats have staff.”
Food choice is important especially if your pet has an allergy or other health condition. It can get pricey, but if it keeps your baby healthy, it’s worth the extra cost. I use Greenies for tartar control for my cat. I’ve noticed that they also have other varieties for joint and hip pain and even pill pockets. Cats and dogs think they’re a treat and unlike other treats, they’re good for them.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to sharing your life with a pet. I know that I’m prejudiced, but I feel they’re worth it if you can effectively provide for their needs. Next week I’ll address the benefits of owning a pet.
Share opinions and pet stories, both positive and negative on this blog or my Facebook Page, Single Boomer Life. You don’t have to be single to share your story or opinion. Links to other blogs and articles are also helpful for my readers and me.
I want to thank the members of Bella Depaulo’s Facebook Page, Community of Single People, for their comments, stories and advice. This is a closed group that you may want to join. Bella, an expert on living single, has a personal Facebook Page and several websites. You can find more information on her books, blogs and mission at http://www.belladepaulo.com . Also, thank you to my new subscribers. I appreciate your support, comments and ideas for new blogs.
Have a wonderful week.