Many of us can agree that animals are awesome, and having your own space might seem like the perfect opportunity to bring a new critter into your life. If you’ve read some of my earlier posts here on My First Apartment, like 3 Reasons Why I Chose to Live Alone, then you know that I adopted my own critter, a cat named Winchester, the day after I moved into my new apartment in Denver. But depending on your own situation, having a new place may or may not be the best time to bring a pet into your life. If you are considering getting a pet soon, here are some things that you may want to consider first:
Do you have a roommate?
If you have or are planning on having a (human) roommate, having a pet is definitely something you will want to discuss with him or her. Even if the pet is exclusively yours, the animal will be living in your shared living space, and you want to be sure that your roommate is 100% on board with your decision to have a pet. A pet could potentially cause conflict with your roommate, and you’ll want to be sure to discuss certain things with your roommate before bringing a critter into your lives (e.g., Will your roommate be willing to care for the pet if you are out of town? Will the pet sleep in your room, or be given free reign over the apartment? Will he be allowed on the couch and other furniture? Etc., etc.).
If you do not have a roommate, bringing a pet into your life is a great way to have an automatic buddy and companionship. I do not have a roommate, but having my cat in my life keeps me from being lonely and going insane while I’m by myself in my apartment.
Does your apartment actually allow pets? (And if so, is there pet rent?)
Some apartments do not allow pets, or have pet restrictions based on size or breed, so you will definitely need to check into this before bringing a pet into your apartment. Many apartments also require that the pet be spayed or neutered and be up-to-date on all vaccinations. If your apartment does allow pets, there will likely be a pet deposit (in case the pet destroys the carpet or something while living with you), as well as monthly pet rent. It’s important to be sure that your pet meets the apartments’ restrictions and that you can afford the deposit and pet rent. If you are considering bringing in a pet, talk to your leasing office/landlord to make sure you understand the requirements and that the pet you are considering adopting meets the requirements. There is nothing worse that having to choose between giving up your pet or your apartment.
How often are you home?
The amount of time you spend at home can make a big difference in whether you have a pet and what kind of pet would work best for your lifestyle. For example, if you work long hours during the week, or like going out with your friends in the evening, it’s probably best not to adopt a dog, since dogs need to be let out and exercised regularly every day. Cats tend to be more low-maintenance than dogs; though cats still need playtime, they can be left alone for longer periods of time as long as they have sufficient food and water.
How much room do you have?
Again, some apartments may not be as pet-friendly as others based on the available space. Think about the areas around your apartment rather than just the apartments themselves, though; for example, you may have a fairly small apartment, but several parks within walking distance. That may be enough space for a dog, as long as you exercise and get him outside a sufficient amount. Again, it’s important to consider what will work for you and your lifestyle.
What is your expendable income?
Pets have a lot of expense; there is the cost of the pet itself (animal shelters have adoption fees, and even if you get your animal for free, there are other costs like vaccinations, getting the animal spayed/neutered, etc.), plus you have to regularly pay for food, litter if you have a cat, and other supplies like a collar, litter box, leash, toys, food and water dishes, grooming if applicable, and vet visits. Be sure that you can afford to adequately care for your pet. As my fellow blogger Alex has pointed out, the ASPCA estimates that first-year expenses for a medium-sized dog will be about $1,580 and about $1,055 for that first year for a cat.
Also, not to get too negative here, but pets can sometimes cause damage to your apartment and possessions. For example, my cat has broken a plate and a mirror since he’s lived in my place. He also scratches the heck out of the couch (which, luckily, was a hand-me-down, so I’m not terribly concerned with its condition). But it’s important to think about whether you have a lot of nice things that you wouldn’t want an animal messing with. Especially when living in a small space like an apartment, it’s hard to keep valuables and nice things out of the grasp of curious and playful little critters.
Consider your situation in life
This is more of a personal opinion here, but please do not adopt a kitten or puppy if you only plan on keeping the pet for only a couple years. Having a pet is, I believe, a commitment for the lifetime of the animal, and if you’re going to bring an animal into your life, they should be there to stay. Now, I’m not saying that you need to have your life planned out before adopting an animal, and I certainly know that situations change and things come up that can make keeping a pet impossible. But I believe that you should have the genuine intention from the beginning to be in that animal’s life for the long haul.
Why having a pet is totally awesome
Animals are incredible. Seriously, I smile every time I look at my cat. He is so weird and crazy and fun, and he definitely keeps my life from being boring. He loves playing fetch and exploring outside. We’ve had all sorts of amusing adventures together, like the time he accidentally fell into the toilet while I was brushing my teeth, and the time he experienced snow for the first time. He is way more than worth the money I paid for him and continue to pay for his litter, food, vet visits, and pet rent. He has enough room in my apartment, and can be alone for a weekend if I’m going on a mini vacation with friends or traveling for work. And if I’m gone for a longer period of time, it’s fairly easy to find someone who is willing to come and take care of him.
Getting a cat when I moved into my new apartment was definitely the right decision for me. Hopefully you can determine whether having a pet in your apartment is right for you!
For more thoughts about pets in apartments, here’s also what my fellow blogger Doug has to say.