I just love them, those first `well baby' consultations. Parents have so many questions. One of the most common I hear is `when should we add to our new family? `Now, keep in mind I am a veterinarian and these parents are curious about bringing home another pet.
Cats and dogs are both social animals. It is an urban legend that cats are solitary creatures that prefer to be only children. Dogs and cats can both enjoy a pet buddy, of the same species or another. There is however, no guarantee that the addition will be welcomed with open paws. Since we can't ask our pets if they want a comrade, there are several questions you will need to honestly ask yourself before you increase the number of feet padding through your home.
1. Do you have the resources to care for another pet? There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is definitely no such thing as a free pet. Food, medical care, and grooming are but some of the elements that need to be considered.
2. Do you have the time to devote to another dependent? We live very hectic lives. It is difficult enough to find time to take care of ourselves let alone a pet. Consider the time required to feed, groom, clean up after, play with and most importantly, love another life.
3. What is the personality of your resident pet? If you have a very timid pet, an elderly curmudgeon or a pet that was never socialized to other animals, a new creature full of energy and enthusiasm may not be what the doctor ordered.
4. If your dog prefers to chase small furry critters rather than play fetch with a ball, or if your cat is obsessed with cackling at birds perched outside its favorite window seat, introducing a small animal into the home may inadvertently stimulate the prey-predator instincts into overdrive. You can just imagine the disasters that could occur unless you exercise very close supervision.
With all of this being said, it is not impossible to increase the size of your pet family even if all the components don't seem to be just perfect. It will take time, patience and persistence. Cats can happily live with dogs. I know a dog whose best friend is a rabbit. Younger pets can give a lift to the spirits of a senior pet or person. Bringing home an older animal is often a marvelous alternative to a youngster. They are usually calmer and less demanding. Likewise, adopting rescue pets give them a new `leash on life.
One of the most important things to remember when you get a pet, it is for life, their life, so choose wisely.