Pet ownership can be the most rewarding and fulfilling experience for anyone, but especially for kids. Pets become legitimate family members. They offer comfort and love throughout life’s upsets and serve as lifelong reminders of a happy, adventure-filled childhood. They provide kids both lessons and memories they’ll treasure forever.
Some of the many benefits for children who have pets as part of their childhood are:
- They’re more likely to develop empathy and compassion towards others
- They find connecting with others easier
- They learn how to build positive relationships
- They’re proven to be happier people
- They’re less likely to suffer depression
- They have healthier gut biome and a better immune system
- They learn responsibility etc.
If you’re reading this, let’s assume you haven’t bought into the popular misconception that dogs are more social, affectionate and loving and therefore make better pets than cats. If for you, the jury is still out on the matter, you’re invited to read on.
THE FAMILY PET: TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY
DOES IT HAVE TO BE A DOG?
Firstly, dogs do make wonderful pets! They’re beautiful, furry, drooling, barking, bounding, barrelling balls of endless love and affection. I love them. I especially love being the sole recipient of their pure, unadulterated affections, right before letting them frolic back to the human who’s honour it is collect their warm, steaming nuggets in little plastic bags. An infinite amount of nappy changes might desensitised us to a degree, but personally, I prefer my proximity to poo to be from the same species.
Secondly, we’ve all encountered that friend or colleague whose company we adore, but truth be told, if there were a way to confine the friendship to phone chats or FaceTime, we’d take it. No amount of mint offerings is ever going to make the penny drop; their. breath. reeks. Fortunately, you’re not sharing your home with said friend and your obstruction to more pleasant-smelling oxygen is usually short-lived. The same can’t be said of her canine counterpart. If the constant billowing of dried pig trotter infused breath fanning its way into your face like a Beyonce wind machine with no ‘off’ button doesn’t perturb you, then dog ownership might still be up for your consideration. All things to think about if you are going to welcome a dog into your home.
Moving right along …
A BIT ABOUT BUYING A CAT
Almost one in three Australian residences is home to a feline. Whether it’s a case of you finally relenting after countless hours of tearful pleading from your kids, or it’s a self-motivated idea, if you’re considering becoming one of those homes, there’s a lot more to consider than what you might name your new little fur child.
For starters, if you’re separated and share custody of your children, while it’s going to be a beautiful homecoming after a week away with their other parent. Bit it’s also going to be a potentially difficult separation each time they’re required to leave the home they share with their beloved pet.
It’s true that many cats don’t seem to be overtly emotional creatures, but some cats, and some breeds are. Maine Coon’s for example are considered ‘dogs of the cat world’. (Don’t try telling that to mine though as he’s positively sure he’s one of us). This breed is very clingy and affectionate and won’t cope well with separation. To give you an idea, prior to becoming a mum myself, I travelled frequently, much to Bentley’s displeasure. And I would often return to find a heaping serve of devil’s donuts in the middle of the bedspread, or dishes smashed and plants upturned. Not all cat breeds are alike.
Of course, there are the more aloof breeds who won’t be so offended by your child leaving and will still reward them with ample purring and rubbing against their legs upon their return.
Also remember that while the kids are away, you’re going to be sole carer for their pampered puss. If you like to take trips overnight while you’re on your own, most cats can make do with their own company as long as plenty of food, water, toys, clean kitty litter and stimulation (a window view of trees, a park, traffic and/or pedestrians is reality TV for cats).
Anything more than one night is going to require backup. There are plenty of cat-minding services available in each area to provide all the comforts and some attention s/he needs, but consider if you’re going to be happy allowing strangers access to your home in these times.
More things to consider is the cost of food (natural, grain & preservative free e.g. quality raw meats like chicken necks are great), health services (pet insurance is a must), bedding, travel crate and toys.
Another perk to adopting a cat is that they tend to be less anxious travellers too! It’s quite easy and inexpensive to book domestic flights for your fur child and take them along on family holidays, as long as you don’t mind them travelling below in the cargo hull. Cats tend to just snooze on through from A to B and look down upon their fellow canine passengers in meltdown mode with utter disdain for making spectacles of themselves at the freight gate waiting for their masters.
If you begin transporting your feline early enough, by car or by plane, your child can add a raft of beautiful holiday memories with their treasured pet to their childhood album.
A final note: Whether you decide to opt for a dog or a cat, as a true lover of all animals, regardless of their breath or toilet habits, I would implore anyone considering pet ownership to go no further than their local pound or rehoming service. You will find an infinite amount of beautiful loving and extremely loveable fur-babies waiting, hoping so deservedly for a love-filled home to enter.
If neither a dog or a cat is right for your family, see what other pets you could get here: 9 Low maintenance pets for your kids to love.