Being a pet owner as a child is easy.
In fact, the hardest part about it is often convincing your parents that a pet is what the family needs. And I’m not talking about fish. Fish are lovely, especially bettas because they’re pretty much the only fish I’ve met with a personality. However, everyone knows the one thing a kid wants when it comes to a pet is something to pet and cuddle with.
Okay, so I also wanted a pet that would 1) lay down next to my bed, 2) fetch my family if something happened to me, and 3) turn into a superhero by eating a strange pill from his ring but that was mainly because I loved watching Lassie and Underdog as a child. (On a side note, I’m starting to wonder now if that Super Energy Pill of his was really some sort of steroid…)
Thankfully, I pretty much ended up with that when I got my first dog as a child too, minus the pills.
See when you’re a kid, it’s easy to get a pet. Any time you see an animal you like, you just look at Mom or Dad or your guardian with the sweetest expression and beg to take it home. With time, you’ll perfect that look.
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to move on to phase two: convince your parents that you are completely responsible enough to care for them. Doing things around the house without being told is a good way to prove that to them.
Or you know, that’s the strategy my nieces are hoping for anyway. I’ll let you know if it ever works out for them.
“But Kristina,” you may be thinking. “I know you have pets! I thought you were speaking from experience!”
Oh, well. No. I didn’t do any of those things to get my first dog. I was only two at the time.
You see, my brother visited my grandparents because their dogs just had puppies. One of my grandparents convinced him to sneak a puppy into his pocket and smuggle it home. My parents realized on the way home and took it back to my grandparents. I apparently cried about the puppy
for days long enough for them to feel bad and go back and get him. He was my best friend for the next 17 years.
We had all sorts of adventures when I was a kid.
He turned into Super Dog whenever a box was present in the house
I drove him around in my pink Barbie car made by Power Wheels
I even let him drink water from my teacups from my kitchen set
Granted he wasn’t allowed in my room, and he never had to go fetch my family due to danger, but boy was he fun.
That was all I had to worry about too: having fun with him. Sure, I fed him when I got older, but all the financial and decision making responsibilities rested on my mother’s shoulders.
Being a pet owner as an adult is an entirely different animal.
My husky was like a bridge pet because I got her as a child and took care of her as an adult. My mom did the hard stuff. She trained her (or rather trained me on how to train her).
Then last summer a stray kitten came knocking on our door (quite literally actually), and I remember calling my mom and asking her what to do when I found her. I had to decide if I should keep the kitten myself or find a new home when no one came forward to claim her. Even more so, I had to choose if I wanted the financial obligation of the surgery the kitten needed because her leg was broken, and it either needed to be repaired or amputated. I had to make that choice if I kept her.
Crazy as it might seem to some, I kept her, which meant I finally became an Official Adult Pet Owner.
My mother was no longer the one in charge. She doesn’t determine how much food the cat needs, if she weighs enough or too much, if she needs to go to the vet, what shots she needs, or anything else. Suddenly, all the decisions and financial obligations are up to me. My mother says I worry too much about my cat, but I eventually came to realize it’s because she’s the first pet I’ve had to care for all on my own.
Who thought it’d be a good idea to trust me with another life?
Especially one that cannot communicate and tell me if everything is well. That just seems like a bad idea, but that’s where I am. Now, maybe pet pawrenthood wouldn’t be so stressful for a normal human, but to me, this is what it was like in the beginning:
Choosing cat food is insanely difficult! Sites disagree about what’s the best brand, wet cat food is more expensive, and some don’t even think wet vs dry food matters. Then, there are others that claim your cat can get crystal-like things that causes urination problems if you don’t pick the right one.
So apparently, you just have to try and hope you were right.
At least I can choose a litter brand easily, right?
How does anyone decide what brand to buy when they all look alike? Do I want scented? Unscented? Dual power? Clay? Scoopable? Shredded? My cat doesn’t tell me what brand she wants!
Wait, you mean some cats are picky about their litter and will start going outside the litter box to avoid using sub par substrate? Why did I Google things about litter? What if my cat starts doing that too? Ugh!
It shouldn’t be that difficult, should it?
And don’t even get me started on trying to choose cat toys! That’s the biggest dilemma of all. I used to just take my dog to the pet store and have her test out some of the toys there. That’s a little more difficult with a cat.
Then of course, you have to factor in cat behavior like when your cat is hanging out somewhere high up and is enjoying life while you’re completely paranoid that your cat is stuck and will break a leg trying to get down or fall down and die.
Or that your cat has been smothered in the middle of the night because she insists on sleeping between your legs or feet.
And then there’s the whole weight issue.
Are you overweight? Are you too skinny? I can’t tell!
Granted, my cat is also a three legged cat, so I worry more about her weight because she’s only got one paw in front to balance it all. Arthritis is likely a guarantee for the future, especially if she’s too heavy. I used to worry about her abilities too, but perhaps other pet owners do that too. However, I’ve also come to realize that she doesn’t need me worrying about her because she’s just fine.
Her missing leg does not affect her. She runs, climbs, jumps, pounces, and does everything a normal cat does. Most people don’t even notice her missing leg. Trust me: don’t let anyone tell you a three legged cat is special needs. They aren’t.
What does it all mean?
In the end, owning a pet as a child is easier because you know at the end of the day, your furry companion is cared for by someone more responsible than you.
As an adult, well, like choosing cat toys, litter, and cat food, it’s kind of hit or miss. You do your best for the furry friend, but there are bound to be some mistakes along the way.
Thankfully though, the two of you will have plenty of fun adventures together, just like kids have with their pets. Although, the beginning will likely involve you freaking out over silly things that non-first time pet owners would consider every day life.
Do you have pets in the household? What sort of fun stories do you have about your pets? I’d love to hear some stories!
*all drawings were made by me