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Say Yes to the Pet: How to Know When You Are Ready for a Furry Friend

Last March, my husband and I were faced with the agonizing decision to put our beloved 19 year old cat down. It was a difficult but necessary decision. We were at peace knowing that our cat lived a long, thriving life. The loss was the most difficult for me. The cat was given to me when it was a mere 8 weeks old. I spent nearly half of my life with that cat. How could I not be heartbroken?

The kids? Well, let's just say that after about a week, they were ready to shop for a new cat, maybe even a dog. {Gasp!} See, that's the thing with kids. They are incredibly resilient. I was hoping that some of their resiliency would rub off on me. But it didn't, and  so, the next few months went something like this:

Kids: Mommy, can we get a dog?

Me: Who's going to take it for walks and take it outside when it's winter?

Kids: Oh, we are! We love to walk dogs.

Me: Oh, really? When have you actually walked a dog?

Kids: Well, we haven't, but we know we would enjoy it.

The months continued in this vain. The subject would change from dog to cat to fish to guinea pig to turtle, but overall, the conversation was the same. Finally, I decided that it was time to seriously entertain adopting a pet into our family.

I sat down to make a list of the pros and cons. The list was unbalanced. There were more pros than cons, and frankly, I was running out of reasons to NOT have a pet. BUT...there was one big question that needed to be answered: Were we, as a family, ready for the responsibility of being pet owners once again?

To answer that question, you need to ask yourself a few more questions:

1. What type of pet is best suited for your family and your lifestyle?

For our family, the only answer was a cat. I am not a dog person. Even if I were, my husband travels for work often, and I would be stuck doing those early morning walks in the cold. Brrr! So not for me!

2. Does anyone suffer from pet allergies?

In our case, this was a tricky question to answer. When I first met my husband, he "claimed" to be allergic to cats. Over time, he built up an immunity to our former cat. We were keeping fingers crossed that he'd be a-OK with another cat.

3. What are the ages of your children?

We wanted our children to help with the responsibility of caring for the new pet. Any children over the ages of 4 or 5 are completely capable of helping out in some capacity. Just be sure to task them with appropriate assignments. We agreed that our daughters could help feed and play with the new cat, but we would never expect them to clean the litter box.

4. Can you afford a pet?

Pets cost money. The cost of food, supplies, and veterinarian bills adds up. A single visit to the veterinarian for a well visit can cost up to $200 depending on the type of pet. Before adopting, be sure to consider your current financial situation. Nothing is worse than your children becoming emotionally attached to a pet that must later be given away due to financial concerns.

When you feel confident that you've answered these questions honestly, you may or may not be ready to take the plunge! Pets deserve love, attention, and TLC. If you don't have the time or the resources to provide those, you should reconsider ownership. If you can provide those, there's a pet out there waiting for you!

I couldn't complete this post without sharing our newest addition. This is Jade.

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