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How Do You Know You're Ready For A Pet?

by Crystal Lim. |

Season's come and go, but the love of a pet is unconditional. You are literally their whole world, and it has been shown that having a furry companion is good for health too! Studies show a proof in the presence of a furball causing an ease in depression, the lowering of blood pressure and stress, and they help keep you active.

But the truth is, while they bring many benefits to us, they are living creatures which require a lot of commitment and much more than simply a split-second decision to bring home the latest cute face that caught your eye from the pet store. Owning a pet requires a high level of commitment, and like children they have their own expectations, wants and necessities which we need to take care of. Are you ready for a pet? Here are a few questions that may help you make a decision.

1. Have you done your research?

Are you picking a pet based on how Instagrammable and adorable it looks, or whether it is a pet that suits your lifestyle? Even if you're dead set on a dog, there are also different breeds of dogs that may suit different lifestyles. If you're the athletic type, find a breed that is capable of going and keeping up with you on hikes or trails. If you're a couch potato, maybe find a breed or adopt an older dog from a shelter who is more than happy to warm your seat with you. At work all day? Maybe a cat or gecko suits you better. Squeamish about handling meat or the idea of feeding a carnivore puts you off? Choose a rabbit or a hamster.

But the research isn’t only on the type of pet you are looking to get! Further research must be made as to how to properly train them, or even the best way in which to feed them. A puppy or kitten not properly trained may give you a hard time as it grows up and becomes a wilful adult. A pet cannot be a lightly made decision - you're adopting a furkid you're meant to take care of for the rest of their lives! So do your research and choose one that suits you and your lifestyle the best.

2. Do you have the time?

Regardless of which pet you choose, all of them require at least some amount of time from you. Dogs and cats perhaps require the most, including time to walk them, play with them, taking them to the vet, bringing them for annual booster jabs, maybe even bring them to socialise if you have a social butterfly.

Even a fairly low maintenance pet like a turtle or fish would need you to at least spend an hour a week cleaning their tank, and a few minutes a day to check in and feed them. If you're not willing to sacrifice your social life or come home early from a night out, maybe a pet isn't right yet for this juncture of your life.

3. Do you have the money?

It may not always mean spending a lot, but if you don't have spare cash that isn't used up for paying a necessity in your life, then a pet definitely isn't for you yet. The first expense is the pet itself - a purebred animal could cost anything from RM1000 and above, while a rescued or shelter cat would still need a fee to be paid. But that isn't even the biggest cost.

This girl right here cost me RM350 in a thorough check due to her heart issue! Necessary medical checkups also escalate as the animal grows older.

Vaccinations are anywhere from RM50 to RM100, spaying and neutering procedures can cost you between RM50 - RM120, and you definitely need to have some spare cash for vet visits in case your little furball falls sick. Annual booster jabs are a month, and if you’re choosing premium quality food for your pet, it could cost from RM150 to RM300 a month - feeding bad quality food may only result in health issues further down the line.

Having a pet also increases the cost of your holidays! Fido or Fifi can't stay at home alone for the whole week you're on your beach holiday, and pet boarding can cost anything from RM20 to RM40 per animal per day, on top of all the supplies (collar, crate, bed, toys) you'll have to get for them.

4. Do you have the energy?

Do you feel like just sinking into the couch everyday after work? Do you have the willingness to wake up early in the mornings, or even have time to clean up after messes if you decide to bring home a young animal? If the answer to the above is no, then perhaps reconsider, or maybe think of an easier pet.

Animals like rabbits or hamsters only require once a week cleaning at least, while dogs and cats would require far more energy from its human family. Anything ranging from multiple walks a day, to half an hour play sessions everyday after work, just like how we make time to spend with our children, we must also make time to spend with the furkid to ensure they are mentally stimulated.

5. Are you willing to commit to extra work?

And just like a baby, you’re going to have to deal with everything that comes out on both ends as well. As a young animal, they’re going to need firm training to be taught where they can go potty, but accidents do happen and they don’t always mean them. Loud scolding would only scare them, so a firm training method must be employed in order for them to learn what is acceptable. Upchucks and puke are also quite common, especially when it comes to hairballs from cats, and no one has yet to create a robot that would help us clean that mess! So it's good ol’ tissues, wet wipes and anti-bacterial spray to clean up the mess left behind. It smells, it stinks, but it's part of the process.

If you have nodded a hearty ‘Yes!’ to all the above, then congratulations, please go ahead and adopt your new family member! But if you hesitated on any of the above, please seriously reconsider your decision. A new pet isn’t a toy to be tossed around or abandoned once you get sick or tired of it. It cannot be a passing fancy, and it is a lifetime commitment - their lifetime. You are their entire world once you take them in as your own, so do right by them.

If you’re still on the fence - perhaps consider fostering them first as a trial period, to see if you’ll be able to handle them on a long term. There are many volunteer organizations looking for fosterers as they look for final adopters!

You can also learn more about the writer on Instagram.

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