No matter how big or small your family is, there’s a furry, feathery or scaly companion waiting to be a part of it. Finding a family pet can be easy when you know where to begin… So, how do you?
Every family has its special traits as does every pet. For example, the Siamese cat is known to be flagrantly talkative to the point of being gossipy. While on the other hand, the German Shepherd is known for being fiercely loyal and displaying strong guarding instincts.
As you can see, finding a pet that suits your household’s niche is what it’s all about. No matter whether you’re a family of 10, or flying solo. 😊
How to find a family pet?
The best way to begin is with your heart. What type of pet do you picture yourself having? The most likely options are cats or dogs. Not surprising, as these are some of the first animals we domesticated thousands of years ago.
We adore cats and dogs, but perhaps you’ll steer towards something more feathery or scaly. For example, you might have a penchant for a parakeet? Or you’d love the drama of a bearded dragon? You might be yearning for a little guinea pig, rat or rabbit? If so, be warned these guys know how to multiply! In fact, you’d better read about pets for children other than cats and dogs to see just how fast.
Family pet: Questions to ask
Now that you have basic starting point, here are some household questions to help steer you to your purrrfect match:
Who will take care of walks and playtime?
Playtime for dogs and cats contributes to their overall happiness and health. Does your schedule allow for this and, if not, who will be responsible for these activities? Note that not all pets have the same playtime needs; for example a Border Collie can easily sprint 80km p/day, whereas a rabbit is plenty happy doing their own thing provided they have a good patch of grass.
How much space do you have?
This is a useful factor in helping you choose your family pet. Having space isn’t just about how much room you have at home. For example, an indoor cat won’t need a garden, but you may need to know how to walk a cat on a leash. And a Labrador personality should have a patch of a sprawling lawn while a Pug simply wants to chill in your lap all day, needing only a short walk at times.
Will you be moving or changing your living circumstances soon?
If you plan on moving home, can your new property still accommodate your family pet? And if you’re a proud parent-to-be will you still have time to play with or walk your pet? If you’re moving in with a partner, or moving to another town, how will your pet cope and be catered for? These decisions can help shape what type of pet you choose and the timing of becoming a first time pet owner.
Who will feed your pet?
Who’ll be the primary caretaker at mealtimes? Does this person’s daily routine allow for this new responsibility?
When are you at home and how much time do you spend there?
Check your schedule against different types of pets and breeds. Some pets need to spend heaps of quality time together, others may be sweetly aloof. Read about these different cat breeds and the top dog breeds in New Zealand to understand their needs.
What’s your budget?
Purebred dogs and purebred cats can cost a pretty penny. You’ll also need to consider ongoing and long term costs. From bedding, toys, food and grooming to vaccinations, vet visits, medicine and more. Know that you can save oodles on health related costs with pet insurance.
Have you owned a pet before?
If so, you may be more knowledgeable and confident with certain animals or breeds than others? Some people love the memories they have of their dog growing up and so their heart is set on one. Others may opt for something smaller or less lively, like a goldfish or hamster. So that their lifestyle won’t need much adapting to accommodate them.
Are you already a pet owner?
If you’re planning on introducing a new pet to an existing one, you’ll need to make time to help their friendship blossom (and be peaceable). For more in this department, read puppy and cat introduction and kitten and cat introduction.
Great pets for kids
If you’re a parent to humans too, becoming a pet parent comes with additional considerations. It’s very much about a perfect match of needs. Especially given you’ll be balancing your children’s needs and your pet’s needs with your own.
Children growing up with pets experience a host of benefits; choosing that perfect family pet will be integral to their happy memories.
With that in mind, here are some key questions to ask before committing:
- Does your child really want a family pet? Make sure your child understands what pets are like and isn’t scared of the change. If your child is the one asking for a family pet, check they know what this will actually entail so they don’t have unrealistic expectations.
- Do you have time to oversee the relationship building? The bond between kids and pets require great consideration and nurturing to start out on the right foot. Read about dogs and kids and introducing your dog to a new baby to find out more.
- Will your kids help take care of the pet? Learning how to take care of a pet is an invaluable life lesson in responsibility, accountability and empathy. If this is your hope, your child’s age and level of maturity will be key to what pet to choose.
- Do your kids have allergies? If so, know some pets are more hypoallergenic than others. Look for pets that shed less, such as the Maltese dog, which has hair rather than fur.
When choosing a family pet the biggest consideration is finding a pet that creates a harmonious household. Every family is unique, which is why these questions are only a guideline.
Ultimately, you and your family will decide what’s best.
Adopting a family pet from a shelter
Adopting rather than buying a pet does wonders to reduce overpopulation at animal shelters like HUHA. At a personal level, you’re also giving an animal a second chance in life. If you’re not too fussed about getting a particular breed, you may find the pet of your dreams at a shelter.
If from the outset you’d love a particular breed, learn how to avoid buying stolen dogs and cats, or unethically bred pets from puppy mills in New Zealand. Also understand what it takes to steer clear of kitten and puppy scams. Another way to ensure you’re buying responsibly (especially with dogs) is understanding how to identify ethical dog breeders.
In addition, here are some guides to help you decide what you’ll need before your family pet arrives:
Pet insurance for your furkid
Much like humans do, sometimes family pets need a check up with their personal doctor (aka vet). Pet insurance helps you cover costly vet visit bills for accidents and illnesses, hospitalisation, prescriptions and so much more.
So, when your family pet meets a sticky situation (aka illness or injury) you can make a quick decision on quality medical care and spend your time focusing on helping them recover.