Which pet matches your lifestyle – Are you considering adding a pet to that will share your life? It might sound wacky, but try thinking about it like buying a car. You might love the idea of a particular model but, in the end, it might not fit the needs of your lifestyle and limits of your budget. Luckily, as with cars, there is a type of pet out there for just about everyone.
Matching your pet to your lifestyle is a smart, sanity-saving, happiness-inducing move. So, for now, think less about comparing scales to feathers to fur. Focus on figuring out whether you would do best with a low-, mid- or high-maintenance pet. And don’t assume that a low-maintenance pet is automatically the best choice for you. Higher-maintenance pets require more of you but can often give you more in return as well.
Low-maintenance: insects, reptiles, and fish
While these three types of pets are very different, they do share a number of qualities:
- Pros: relatively inexpensive, depending on species, breed and living habitat; can be kept in a cage/fishbowl; require no interaction; non-allergenic; make no noise
- Cons: due to size, more easily lost and harder to find if removed from the cage; don’t interact or bond with people
- Best for child’s first pet; educational observation; small spaces; frequent travelers and people with limited time
- Good starter pets: ant farm; turtle or tortoise; leopard geckos, bearded dragons, green anoles; goldfish; Siamese Fighting Fish (also called betta fish) but only one per fish bowl
Other things to keep in mind: Some reptiles, like tortoises, can live for decades, which can be a negative if you don’t want to commit to a pet for that long. Turtles, tortoises, and snakes can bite, requiring adult supervision when handled by children. Some lizards are active at night, which means little kids can miss out on a lot of their action. And most lizards need to eat live insects.
Medium-maintenance: birds and small mammals
The pros and cons of these two types of creatures differ more but, in general, they’re a good choice if you want a small pet that will interact with humans without needing constant attention. They are also typically confined to cages and require little space.
- Pros: depending on breed, can be intelligent, lively and social; are more likely to interact or bond with people; they sing and chirp, which can also be a negative if noise is an issue; parrots can live for decades, so owners should be prepared for a long relationship; can be kept in a cage
- Cons: delicate and require adult supervision as well as a level of maturity from children; some breeds, like parrots, need higher levels of interaction; require care on a daily basis
- Best for: individuals and families that want a more active pet that is still relatively low-maintenance; older or mature young children; small spaces
- Good starter pets: parakeets and canaries make good, inexpensive and easy to care for first pets; cockatiels and cockatoos are more costly but also more intelligent
- Pros: quiet but social; work well in same-sex pairs (except for hamsters, which are solitary); nice to hold, pet and play with; regular handling encourages friendliness; can be kept in a cage
- Cons: small rodents are easy to lose if removed from the cage and not closely monitored; can bite if they feel threatened
- Best for: individuals and families that want a more interactive pet that is still relatively low-maintenance; people who want a more cuddly pet; small spaces
- Good starter pets: mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits; rats have an undeservedly bad reputation because of their cousins who live in the wild, but domesticated rats are generally friendly and highly intelligent
High-maintenance: cats and dogs
Cats and dogs are some of the most common pets for individuals and families. They are the most social, cuddly types of pets but also need the most daily care.
Felines have a reputation for being aloof but the stereotype doesn’t apply to all cats. Some are very social and even dog-like in their enjoyment of human companionship. Whether adopting a kitten or cat, spend time with it and ask the animal shelter or pet store about its personality so you can find one that fits with yours.
- Pros: depending on the cat, can be both very social and independent, although all cats will need some level of interaction, petting and play time; in general, they are better than dogs at handling long periods of being alone, but still need daily food, water, and litter box cleaning; can live in or outdoors, though indoors is considered safer for both cats and local wildlife
- Cons: some people are allergic to cats; however some scientific studies suggest that having a cat in the home during a child’s first few years can help protect him or her from some types of allergies in the future; depending on the breed and particular cat, they can shed hardly at all to a lot; indoor cats will need a litter box
- Best for: individuals and families that want a more interactive, cuddly pet and who are able to devote more time and money to daily and annual care; small spaces
- Good starter pets: prioritize personality when choosing a cat and make sure that it fits well with you and your family members, especially if you have kids; some cats are scared of children/people while others aren’t
Man’s best friend asks a lot of owners but also has so much to give in exchange. Dogs are known for their loyal, affectionate nature. Temperament can vary dramatically by breed and dog. If you adopt from a shelter, remember that some dogs come from difficult or abusive backgrounds, which can contribute to temperaments that mix fear with aggression. This kind of behavior can possibly be overcome with time and commitment. Get advice from shelter staff before adopting such a dog, especially if you have children.
- Pros: enjoy being taken along on a variety of adventures, whether in the great outdoors or on city streets; loyal and social creatures who bond with people and crave their companionship
- Cons: need to be walked every day; some breeds require a lot of exercises to avoid getting hyper; don’t do well being left alone for long periods of time; poorly-trained dogs can bark a lot but owners can work to change that behavior; unless the dog itself is small, dogs are generally not good in small spaces
- Best for: individuals and families that want a more interactive, cuddly pet and who are able to devote significant time and money to daily and annual care
- Good starter pets: as with cats, prioritize personality when choosing a dog and make sure that it fits well with you and your family members, especially if you have kids; Labradors, Golden Retrievers and dogs with those breeds mixed in have generally pleasant temperaments
Other things to keep in mind about cats and dogs: Size, temperament, and health permitting, small cats and dogs can be put in a carrier and taken into the main cabin of most airlines (always check with the airline first); however, most pets will be happiest if left in familiar surroundings, so only travel with them if you must. All cats and dogs need yearly vet checkups and ones that go outside will need annual vaccinations. They are at a higher risk of injury from other animals, humans, and cars, so annual vet bills could be higher than for other pets. They can nip, scratch and bite if frightened or over-stimulated during play, so adult supervision is needed around small children.
What kind of owner are you?
Not all pets are the same, and neither are owners. Even if you think you know what type of pet you want, it’s worth taking the time to figure out what type of owner you are able to be, based on how much of your time, attention and budget you can devote to a pet.
Important Luxury Valley Homes Disclaimer: All content provided is for informational purposes only. Neither the author nor Luxury Valley Homes assumes any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter. Luxury Valley Homes does not sponsor, recommend or endorse any third party, product, service or information provided on this site.
Read about the Luxury Valley Homes team.