Did you know that March is Adopt a Guinea Pig Month? Now you do! Guinea pigs are as adorable as the sounds they make. In honor of guinea pigs, let’s discuss which furry friend (or feathered, scaly, etc.) may or may not be the best fit for you, your family, your home, and your lifestyle—including but not limited to felines, as the title of this article might suggest (or guinea pigs, as this month might suggest).
There are many factors to consider when choosing an animal, including space, cost, time commitment, and more. Choosing a family pet is a big decision that will affect your daily life in many unexpected ways. Although many of them are loud and messy and require a lot of upkeep, the rewards of love, companionship, and better health will easily outweigh the costs. Most days.
Let’s begin with “man’s best friend”. Close to 40% of U.S. households own a dog. Do you love having someone stare into your soul every time you eat? Would you enjoy getting knocked down in a frenzy of jubilance every time you get home, even when you were only gone for 5 minutes? Are you in need of a home alarm system that will ferociously defend you from the mailman but happily greet a burglar? How about someone that loves you so much it eats your shoes? If this sounds like you, then it’s time to adopt a dog! People with dogs tend to be more physically active and socially involved, what with all the walking and dog park visits. Dogs develop close bonds with their owners, offering a huge emotional payoff, and many other benefits. Some breeds require lots of exercise and a large yard to run, while others are nice and lazy and do great in apartments.
If you have a smaller space and less time to devote to a pet, the second most popular pet option could be for you. Would you enjoy having a perfectly engineered killing machine wrapped in a blanket of warm, squishy softness sleep on your face? Do you find pleasure in having everything purposefully knocked off your countertops, one by one? Are you tired of all your black clothes not having fur all over them? If so, then you should get a cat! A third of American households own cats. Additional bonuses include quiet companionship and the magic of a therapeutic, healing purr. Ever heard the saying, “If you put a cat and a bunch of broken bones in the same room, the bones will heal”? There’s actually scientific evidence to back this up, despite how crazy it sounds.
Want something bigger? Do you wish you knew how to turn money instantly into poop? Do you dream of spending hours each day as part of a giant Zen Garden, raking satisfying lines into the dirt while scooping out those nuggets? Would you relish the opportunity to have itchy hay permanently lodged in your bra? Do you hate walking? Then a horse is the right pet for you! If you have room to spare and time for mucking, grooming, riding, and training, horses are wonderful companions that can live to be 30 years old. There are many wonderful benefits to adopting an equine friend.
If you are a bit afraid of such a commitment, there are plenty of other options. Do you hate yard work and love things that scream? Consider a goat! How about something messy and noisy that repeats every bad word you let slip? Much like a 3-year-old human, but smaller and with feathers—you should look into adopting a parrot! Or, if you prefer something quiet and low maintenance that you can use to freak out your friends and family, a snake or tarantula would be perfect for you! A less frightening option for a quiet pet would be a fish—and its aquarium can double as a beautiful art piece for your home.
Being a pet owner offers a number of health benefits, regardless of your species choice. Pets combat feelings of loneliness by providing companionship, generating better moods and overall happiness. Everyone uses that ridiculous voice to talk to their fur babies, whether they admit it or not; even if they don’t reply in kind, it’s nice to have someone to chat with…and to cuddle. Having pets is also proven to reduce our stress levels and decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Worried about allergies? Having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing pet allergies; many children exposed to animals develop stronger immune systems overall. Even mild allergies in adults can be reduced just by being around pets.
Adopting a pet can also save a life. There are many rescues for all types of critters with thousands in need of loving homes. Just consider the pros and cons to each variety, and be aware of what you are committing to. Think about how your new family member will fit into your household—does it need a terrarium? A kennel? A barn? Where will it sleep? What happens when you aren’t home? Do your research and think about the day-to-day.
Good luck with your search! Here are some helpful links to get you started. And please feel free to contact me if you need referrals to a housecleaner or a contractor for those pet-related messes and projects.