Finding your ideal pet

So, you’ve decided to add a pet to your house. All pets require time, but some take much more than others, and so you must be brutally honest with yourself about your time constraints, living arrangements and lifestyle. There really is a right pet for just about everyone, and openness now will ensure that you and your new pet are a match made in heaven. With that in mind, you should consider questions like these: Do your job or family obligations keep you away from home for ten hours at a stretch, or for most waking hours? Do you have small children or elderly family members? Do you have a fenced yard? How do you feel about picking up poop? How important is it to have a neat house? And so on…

If you’re considering a dog…

Dogs need exercise and mental stimulation, although how much they require will vary. If you don’t enjoy long walks, jogging or long stretches of time playing fetch and tug of war, then look for a low energy dog. If you hope to compete in agility, then you are looking for a smart, active dog who will require a job to do. Looking forward to teaching your dog tricks? Select a dog who is looking to connect with you and figure out what you want to do.

If you are gone from home for long stretches of time or throughout many hours of the day, a dog may be a poor choice. Dogs can only use the bathroom when someone is there to go out with them. If you can’t hold it from the time you leave the house till the time you get back, your dog probably can’t either. Dogs are also social animals and need company. If they are regularly left alone all day and into the evening, they will often develop destructive behavior, such as furniture chewing, barking, and self-inflicted harm.

If you’re considering a cat…

Cats can use the litter box whenever necessary, and while they love to have you at home playing with them, they generally don’t have quite the social drive that most dogs do. Plenty of perches near windows, and a variety of toys will often keep them happy and healthy. If you are looking for a cat that really loves to cuddle, you will also be looking for a cat that wants you home. If you are gone much of the time, your perfect cat will likely be a bit more self contained.

Cats do need a litter box which must be cleaned regularly to suit the cat’s preference. Avoiding the chore of cleaning the litter box by sending your cat outside puts her at risk of death from cars, disease, and other animals. Cats live in three dimensions, so your kitchen counter and knickknack shelf are as likely to be walked on as the floor. Loaves of bread may be nibbled and fragile objects may be broken. While cats can be trained to scratch a designated post, their goal is to leave a scent mark and they may still decide that some lovely new piece of furniture is just the spot.