Kids and pets go together like s’mores and camping but choosing the best fit can be stressful. Here are a few things to consider ahead of time that will make your choice easier:
- Your child’s age, abilities, and daily schedule
- Where you live, and
- The type of pet you’re looking for: a dog or a cat?
When thinking about a pet, consider the age, abilities and daily schedule of your child. The younger the kid, the less ability they may have to care for a dog or cat. Ditto for a child with a busy academic and after school schedule.
For an older child, say late elementary school to middle school age, the time for a puppy or kitten may be perfect. A great way to test and see if your kid is ready for the responsibility of being a pet parent is to foster.
Being a foster family is the perfect rehearsal for bringing a dog or cat into the family full time. Both dogs and cats need foster homes and you can even be breed specific if you’d like. There are many rescue agencies looking for willing foster homes.
Where Do You Live?
The best type of pet for your family also depends on where you live. Are you in an urban high-rise with kids at school and you’re out all day? A puppy may not fit as well as a kitten due to a dog’s need to be walked. Puppies being house trained should go out every two hours until they are about three months old. After that, they can hold it for an extra hour per month of life.
If you are in the country with space for an outside kennel, a puppy would be a great choice even with a busy family because that kennel gives it the ability to be outside at will.
If you live in the city, a kitten or cat would be perfect. Cats are more self-sufficient than dogs and fit a busy family schedule with ease. Food and water, litter box, a way for the cat to see what’s going on outside and you’re set.
The Perfect Pet
There really isn’t a universally perfect pet and their needs must fit into the family like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. If you’re considering a specific breed, think about …
- How large or small the animal will be when fully grown
- Its need for activity, and
- What you can afford to spend on food and medical care
Breed traits should also play into your decision as well. For example, long hair will need more grooming from your child than one with short hair. And look into the kinds of medical issues a specific breed may have. Long haired cats can tend to have more hairball issues than short haired breeds.
Choosing a pet for your child can be stress-free if you do some pre-planning. Consider your child’s age, abilities and schedule, where you live, the type of pet you’d like and you’ll be all set.