Sharing Your Home with Pets

Anna Danyliuk 01/29/2015

I have noticed lately that there appear to be an excessive amount of pets being sold over the popular Queen’s Facebook page “Free and For Sale”. A large proportion of these pets seem to be either cats or kittens. This is a discouraging observation considering the surplus of cats at the local humane society. A cat is a big commitment, especially for people our age. Cats can live up to 20 years, and the chances are that most students will be in a different living situation than they are now over the course of the next 20 years. There are many important questions future pet owners need to ask themselves before making this big decision.

This is not to say that all students are unable to own pets, or are bad pet owners. However, it is important to really contemplate the responsibility and duties that are needed when owning a pet. A pet is not a toy; they need stability and routine. It is unethical to adopt a pet for a short period of enjoyment if you’re not planning on being a responsible owner for its entire lifespan. I have written this article specifically targeted at cat owners because it seems as though cats can be trivialized as being “easy” pets.  However, all these questions can apply to any pet that requires extensive care.

Firstly, does your landlord allow pets? Or if you’re planning on moving, you must be prepared to only consider properties that allow pets. It is crucial to ask yourself, where will you be after you graduate, and what will be done with your pet then? Do you have a close family member or friend who will be willing to take on the cat for the other 15ish years if you are planning on moving? Students are in such unpredictable points of their life. There is no telling where your life will lead you, and perhaps a pet is something that should be enjoyed once one is settled down.

Secondly, you should consider if everyone that you’re living with on board with having a pet. Will your housemates step up to share some of the work if needed? Is anyone allergic or will the fur and potential destruction of furniture and carpets bother anyone in your house? It is extremely irresponsible to adopt an animal if you haven’t addressed these issues with the people you are living with. Inevitably, living with a cat will result in fur covering everything and furniture being used as scratching posts. If your housemates are somewhat distressed by any of these issues this should factor into your decision.

Money is also an important factor. From my previous work experiences at a veterinarian clinic and at a pet store, I can tell you that the bills add up. Annual shots are needed which are about $100, as well as the shots cats must receive when they are kittens. If you are planning on having an outdoor cat, neutering or spaying the cat is essential which can cost up to $400, especially if there are complications. One must also consider the unfortunate circumstances if the cat were to get sick or injured, which can be thousands for daily medication or emergency care. On top of that are the food, litter and supplies like bowls, toys, beds and grooming care.

I do not mean to discourage my fellow animal lovers, as I know having a pet is such a rewarding experience. However, there are other options that may be more practical living under student circumstances. Perhaps you and your housemates can consider fostering an animal from the Kingston Humane Society. Or maybe get an animal that is only a few years of commitment like a hamster, gerbil or mouse. If you are really set on adopting a cat and have considered all these questions, please consider going to the Kingston Humane Society over buying a kitten at a pet store, as currently the humane society is overwhelmed with cats that need loving homes.

Anna Danyliuk is an Assistant Editor at the Queen’s Tartan.