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Healthy Pets

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Are You Ready to Get a Pet?

What you need to consider before you get a pet.

Pets Need Your Time and Energy continued...

Cats are a bit easier on time demands. Kittens have to be fed three to four times daily, and adults need one to three meals.

An indoor cat means cleaning the litter box every day to avoid messes around the house. It’s best for cats to stay indoors to be safe from diseases, car accidents, or fights, Cruz tells WebMD.

Unlike dogs, cats don’t need to be walked. So it’s possible to leave a cat alone for a couple of days as long as someone can stop by once daily to check that your kitty is OK, replenish food and water, and clean the litter boxes.

Some of the most popular birds, such as cockatiels and budgies, need play time outside of their cages every day, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). These feathered creatures can also be quite social and crave human interaction.

“Since birds are flock animals, they want to form tight bonds with their owners. We see a lot of behavioral issues when birds are not getting the kind of attention they require,” says Austin, Texas veterinarian Brad Singleton, DVM.

Regardless of breed, most birds regularly need a steady supply of bird seed or pellets, and fresh water, fruit, and vegetables. Another time investment: weekly cage cleaning, and regular bathing.

Time-wise, smaller pets usually need the basics of regular feeding and a frequently cleaned cage or aquarium, says Singleton. Fish, reptiles, and amphibians generally don’t require a lot of human interaction. However, rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, and gerbils are sociable beings who do want some time to hang out with their owners.

Can You Afford a Pet?

Along with time commitment, money can be a major factor in owning an animal.

“It doesn’t always mean spending a lot, but if you don’t have the discretionary income, then having a pet may not be the best idea right now,” says veterinarian Greg Hammer, DVM, of Dover, Del.

The first expense: the pet itself. An animal can be as cheap as free, but certain prized breeds could cost thousands of dollars, Hammer tells WebMD.

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