The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Choosing Your Perfect Pet

Cats know how to obtain food without labor, shelter without confinement, and love without penalties.
- W.L. George

Different pets have different needs. We all know this; however, not all of us give it much thought when faced with a soft, warm and purring kitten for sale outside the grocery store. “A kitten can’t be that much trouble,” we tell ourselves. “Cats aren’t that expensive to keep,” we rationalize.

Or maybe puppies, parrots or pot-belly pigs are our weakness. No matter. In the end, the world’s “pet people” tend to be sitting ducks for any pet that needs a home. If we’re not careful, we can end up overwhelmed, broke and wishing we hadn’t taken in that last pet who came knocking on our door.

Cats

The Good: Cats purr. They are inquisitive. They keep mice out of the house. Some cats like to sit on your lap to be petted. Cats are somewhat independent and usually less “needy” than dogs.

The Bad: Cats can seem indifferent to our emotional state. They can get into things if the house is not cat-proofed, this includes unrolling reams of toilet paper, climbing the curtains and scratching the new carpeting. Cats also tend to shed.

The Ugly: Even the most well-groomed cats throw up hairballs. The litter box can stink and must be cleaned at least once a day. Cats can develop unwanted behaviors if stressed, such as peeing under the bed or pooping right outside the cat box. This can be extremely frustrating and very expensive to replace ruined flooring or furniture.

Dogs

The Good: Dogs are almost always happy to see you. They love you when you have bad breath, no makeup and have to wear your fat jeans. Dogs like to play and are always ready to help us exercise – by begging us to take them for a walk.

The Bad: Dogs bark. Some dogs shed. They need companionship, consistent attention and socializing with us. Picking up the puppy wee pads during house-training isn’t much fun.

The Ugly: Dogs throw up bile if their stomachs are sick and it’s really difficult to get the yellow stain out of fabric or carpet. Long-haired dogs may need their bottoms wiped after pooping so it doesn’t get stuck in their fur. They need to brush their teeth to avoid costly dental work; Greenies dog chews can also help keep their teeth clean in between brushings.

Guinea Pigs

The Good: Guinea pigs are awake during the day. Happy guinea pigs purr, chirp, wheep and do little jumps known as popcorns. They like to be held and petted, tend to be calm and do not usually bite.

The Bad: Guinea pigs need the bedding in their enclosures changed at least once a week. It may be hard to find a vet that knows how to treat a guinea pig. Guinea pigs need an enclosure with a solid, not wire, bottom or they will develop bumblefoot, a painful condition of the feet.

The Ugly: Guinea pigs cannot be house-trained. They will pee or poop on your lap when being held. They are quite stoic when sick, so it may be difficult to tell that they are ill until it is too late.

Take Time to Think It Over

We can use the same “good, bad, ugly” format to evaluate any pet we are thinking about taking into our homes. We must be sure we have the financial resources, the time, space and energy to care for a pet. If we find it isn’t a good time for another pet to join the family, trying to find her another home may assuage the inevitable guilt feelings we pet-lovers tend to have when we are not able to help every animal that crosses our paths.

About the Author

Jane Warren is a freelance writer specializing in helping consumers get the best possible care for their pets. She offers guidance through her numerous articles and money-saving tips. When not working on her website, www.PamperThePets.com, she loves to travel and spend time at the beach.

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