Let me start out by saying I'd never regret getting my kitten Luna. Having her brightens my day. Nothing can replace her snuggles and cute tricks. That doesn't mean I'm not aware that yes, I entered the world of pet ownership too early.
I got Luna right before I started my junior year of college. Not only had I never had a cat before, but this would be the first time I would be solely responsible for the welfare of another being. My parents wouldn't be there to remind me to feed her, or to do the gross jobs like cleaning the litter box.
I know what you're thinking. "Lexi, I don't mind doing that, I can take care of an animal, you're just immature."
I'm not, but I get it. It sounds easy enough: feed it two times a day, take it for walks/clean the litter box, and take lots of cute Instagram pictures.
A lot of students think that but then one, three, or six months later they'll post on facebook about 'rehoming' their pet, or worse. Many students I know have pets that are stressed and untrained. Their owners complain that their furry babies are 'little terrors', but as usual, the blame falls on the owner, not the animal.
That's not even the half of it. I'm taking this from a cat owner's point of view, but dogs cost equally as much, if not more. To start, getting your new puppy or kitten fixed and given their shots cost hundreds of dollars. Later on, a good pet parent takes their animal for their checkup yearly, another hundred dollars or so. Add food, toys, cat trees (they cost way more than you think!) and other accessories like collars and beds. College students already have to scrape by to pay for tuition, books and rent. Adding hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year is unrealistic for most students.
That's just monetary. Pets require more than the time it takes to feed them. They're social creatures, just like you. They need to be walked, played with, and cuddled. Personally, I'm always on the run to balances classes, my sorority, my social life, and now Luna. Sometimes I have to say no to fun stuff because I haven't seen Luna all day and need to go home to feed and play with her. Pets need to be loved, which doesn't allow you to be gone from your apartment or dorm constantly. Spontaneous trips to the beach or a sleepover after a night out can't happen.
Just like if I had a baby, if I decide to leave my house for more than a day I have to make arrangements for Luna, whether that means taking her with me or having someone take care of her. If I had a dog they would have to come to walk him or her as well.
Feel free to be wild and crazy, that's what college is about. Go spend every night anywhere but your bed, and go on as many adventures as you can. I encourage it.
Don't leave a lonely, hungry, bored pet at home while you go out and live life.
Wait until you've graduated and have some disposable income. There will always be needy animals waiting for a home. As hard as it is to say no, try to understand that if you can't give a pet a proper home and the love it needs, it's better to let someone who can adopt the pet instead.
As for Luna and I, I'm happy to stay at home and cuddle my cat.
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