Looking after a pet is a big responsibility. Not because it’s difficult or requires lots of time – neither of those are necessarily true – but because a pet is a living thing. It will rely on you as its friend and carer, its source of food, warmth and shelter.
If you can provide those things, keeping pets is without doubt one of life’s great pleasures. There’s often a big stumbling block though. If Mum, Dad or another well-meaning adult at home says you can’t have a pet, what’s the best way forward?
You could always accept it, of course – and maybe there are good reasons why, in your particular household, keeping a pet just isn’t going to work. For example, if you’re under 10 it’s not recommended that you should take full responsibility of a pet – you will need an older person to help out.
However, if the adult in question has simply not stopped to think about it, you’re in with a chance. For many of the commonest anti-pet arguments there are simple, practical facts that may help you change your parent’s mind.
Arm yourself with these, and you could soon be the proud owner of a new furry or feathered friend!
1 – Mum says: “Pets take too much looking after.”
You say: “It doesn’t have to be something that needs lots of training and walking, like a dog. A cat is pretty independent and easily house-trained. A small mammal like a gerbil or hamster only needs cleaning out once a week, and feeding them every day is simple. The same goes for budgies and finches.”
2 – Dad says: “We can’t afford to keep a pet.”
You say: “Small mammals are very cheap to buy. Or we could get a pet from a pet rescue centre. They’re always looking for new owners, and we’d be helping out an animal in need, and supporting a very important local service. As for pet food, even a big dog will only cost a few pounds a week, and a small pet will spend a month nibbling through a $10 bag of food.”
3 – Mum says: “Yes, but what about those huge vet’s bills?”
You say: “Gerbils and hamsters don’t usually have many health problems in their short lives, and don’t need vaccinations and microchips like dogs and cats. And there’s also pet insurance – for a fairly low monthly premium, a pet can be covered for all kinds of potential problems. That way we can avoid unexpected vet’s bills.”
4 – Dad says: “Pets are too noisy.”
You say: “Okay, dogs are noisy, but they can be trained not to woof too much. Chickens are quite noisy, but we could run it past the neighbours, and I’m sure the promise of a few eggs would win them round! Pet birds make a lot of noise, but how about the gentle squeak of a guinea pig, or the soft purring of a cuddly cat? And rabbits, gerbils and hamsters are pretty much silent.”
5 – Mum says: “They make too much mess.”
You say: “Cats are very neat and tidy. Small mammals make their mess inside their enclosures, and I can clean that up every week.”
6 – Dad says: “Pets are smelly.”
You say: “Not if their cages are cleaned properly every week. And dogs can be shampooed.”
7 – Mum says: “All that cleaning out… I’m not going to do it!”
You say: “Modern hutches and chicken coops are really easy to clean, and I could definitely manage it myself. Take a look at the Eglu for chickens, and the Go Rabbit Hutch, and you’ll see what I mean.”
8 – Dad says: “You’re forgetting – someone at home is allergic to fur and feathers.”
You say: “There are hypoallergenic breeds of cat and dog, so let’s get one of those.”
9 – Mum says: “During term time there’s no one at home to keep the pet company.”
You say: “Some dogs are absolutely fine on their own for a few hours. Most cats are too. You just need to get one of the chilled-out breeds. And all small mammals and cage birds do just fine without a human around 24/7. Same goes for chickens – and you can even get automatic chicken coop doors for them these days.”
10 – Dad says: “But what’s the point?”
You say: “Pets are beautiful. They’re our best friends. Research shows that handling pets relieves stress. And chickens produce lots and lots of delicious eggs!”