It might happen when you're out running errands: A local shelter has set up an adoption event outside the grocery store, and you're drawn to the happy wagging tail of a black lab. Or perhaps the moment comes when you're visiting a friend. "Oh, my neighbor's cat just had kittens," she says. "You have to look– they're so cute."
It's even possible that you'll happen upon the moment yourself. In an attempt to de-stress, you pull up the website for your local humane society. I'm just looking, you think. It's not like I'm going to adopt a puppy or kitten today.
And then, out of nowhere, you fall in love.
Before you decide to take any furry friends home, however, there are some things to think about. Here are seven questions you should ask before you adopt a pet:
It's not enough to make sure your building allows pets.
Make sure you understand what your landlord expects as far as notification, and whether or not your landlord or the building has any additional deposits or monthly charges for keeping an animal– you'll likely have to pay a bit more each month than if you were moving in sans cuddly creature.
Thoroughly research your potential pet's monthly food and care needs, and figure out how that will fit into your budget. Don't forget to include regular and emergency veterinary costs, and consider building an emergency pet fund before you bring your pet home.
Your new pet will probably not come with its own savings account.
Different pets require different time commitments.
Make sure you know how much of your time your pet will need for attention, exercise, and grooming. If you work long hours or travel regularly, consider how that will fit into your pet care.
Some animals are very social and need to have a companion. For example, ferrets can become depressed if they don't have a ferret friend around, which means you effectively need to adopt them in pairs.
Other animals, like hamsters, are perfectly content to be the only pet around.
Speaking of ferrets, did you know it's illegal to own, breed, or sell ferrets in California and Hawaii?
Make sure the pet you're thinking of adopting is legally allowed in your area. Different states and cities have different laws about exotic animals, so do your research if you're considering anything other than a cat or pup.
How much space you'll need will depend entirely on what kind of pet you're looking at. It's not just the size of the animal that matters: For example, a low-energy, medium-sized dog might require less space than a large cat. It's not that the cat itself takes up more room, but the accompanying litter box does.
Take into account your pet's size, energy, and accompanying accessories, and figure out how that will fit into your apartment.
The future is one of the most important things to think about when considering pet adoption. What will you do if you have to move somewhere that doesn't allow pets? How will you handle your companion developing a chronic illness?
Asking these questions now will help you cross the bridge if you get to it and let you know if you're ready to have a pet at all.