According to the 2023–2024 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), the number of pet-owning families in the United States has now reached 86.9 million. That’s approximately 66 percent of all US households. Are you thinking of adding to that number and opening up your home to a canine or feline companion?
A lot of people took the plunge in the previous years and have since discovered the many joys and benefits of becoming pet owners. These pets provide their owners with comfort and companionship, and their presence can even encourage people to adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle. But as much as pet ownership has its benefits, it’s also a big responsibility. If you’re considering becoming a pet parent for the very first time, it’s something that you should unreservedly want and be thoroughly prepared for. This is especially important if you intend to adopt a pet who’s gone through several obstacles in life before reaching their fur-ever home.
Are you truly ready to adopt your first pet? Here are some signs that the answer is a resounding yes.
You’ve Done Your Fair Share of Research
There are a lot of things you should look deeply into before adopting your first pet. First, you need to understand the implications of welcoming a certain species into your home, Next, you’ll need to narrow down the breed and know what its care requirements are.
Cats and dogs have different needs, for instance, and the experience of owning a Bichon Frisé is wildly different compared to owning a Belgian Malinois. One dog might be completely content with being a couch potato, while another cannot stand inactivity and utter boredom. If your idea of pet ownership is collecting custom dog collars and dressing up your pet for walks and events, there are breeds that will suit your desired lifestyle more than others, and you need to do your research on which type of pet is the best fit.
You Have the Time and Space to Care for a Pet
Making time for your pet is a must. You’re not the only one longing for companionship—your pet wants the same thing from you. If you’re in a single-person household, then your pet may have no one to interact with when you’re out all the time. You also have to make time in your schedule for walks, feeding, bathroom breaks, grooming, trips to the vet, and other activities that will help ensure your pet’s health and well-being.
Your living arrangement is also an important consideration when owning a pet. If you rent or live with others, you should be given the green light by your landlord to house them in your space, and it must not cause health issues for your housemates. It’s also a must to have a dedicated place where your pet can pee and poop even when you’re not around.
You’ve Accounted for the Cost of Pet Ownership
It’s no secret that owning a pet can cost a fair bit of money. You have to buy items and supplies that will make your pets feel right at home, such as beds, food, toys, and bowls. Vaccinations, vet visits, spaying and neutering, and grooming services also cost money, and these are essential to ensure your pet’s good health.
The same can be said of the other services that your pet might need in your absence, such as dog walkers, doggy daycares, and pet boarding. In some places, pet owners are even required to get licenses for certain types of pets, which is another expense you should consider.
You’re Ready to Make a Lifetime Commitment
Pets are a lifetime commitment, and a cat or dog’s lifetime can last anywhere from 8 to 15 years. As a pet owner, you have to train your pet, provide them with the best possible quality of life, address any behavioral problems that they might have, and advocate for them when they have medical issues. While pet ownership can bring a lot of joy, it also has its dark days, and you should be there with your animal companion as they go through all of these.
You’re Prepared to Sacrifice Some Sleep
Cats and dogs are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active during dusk and dawn. This can mean early wake-up calls for food, walks, and bathroom breaks for dogs.
Cats, on the other hand, can get the so-called “zoomies” in the middle of the night. Both types of pets also tend to be more attentive and reactive to strange noises during these times.
It’s possible to get them used to a diurnal schedule by sticking to a consistent routine. However, there will still be a period of adjustment in which you’ll have to deal with each other’s schedules and times of high activity. You should only say yes to adopting a pet if you’re willing to work through these growing pains with them.
Your Home Has Been Thoroughly Pet-Proofed
It’s ideal to keep cats indoors so that they are less likely to hunt other animals, get into fights or accidents, get lost, or eat things that they shouldn’t.
This means that you should keep your doors and windows closed or screened. For either a dog or cat, you should also watch out for potential dangers inside your home.
Curiosity can get the best of your animal companion, and they’re at risk of getting poisoned if they stick their noses where they shouldn’t. Keep your detergents, cleaners, medicines, and even food supplies behind closed doors and locked cabinets if you know that they could endanger your pet.
If you have agile pets like cats and birds, clear your counters and shelves of things that they can damage. You should also check if all the plants that are accessible to your pets are actually safe for them. Plus, be ready to quickly clean up and disinfect your home in case your pet makes a mess anywhere they’re not supposed to.
Save both you and your pet from either troublesome or even heartbreaking events by ensuring that the space is fully pet-proofed before they make it their home.
If you’ve said yes to all of these signs, then you might just be ready to adopt your first pet. Prep your heart and your home for the arrival of your new pet, and soon enough, you’ll discover why more and more households in the US count pets as beloved members of their families.