Before kids, we had cats. Ophelia and Sebastian were our pets for over 15 years. When our oldest child, C, was about 3, the cats passed away. They were our “children” for over a decade. We were heartbroken and couldn’t even imagine getting another pet, and after the grieving period we realized how much simpler life with a small child was without a pet. So we gave ourselves permission to take a break.
When C was 5, he started asking for a pet. He told us he wanted a pet to play with — and one who would sleep with him. Pregnant with our second child, we told him we’d be pretty busy with a new baby, but when she was 1 year old we could talk about getting a pet. He was amazingly patient, but, true to children everywhere, he remembered. This winter, when his sister turned 1, he started talking about a pet again.
Dogs were out — no walking through wind, rain, and snow while picking up warm, squishy poop for this family!
Everyone in our house has lots of allergies, including to cats (we took allergy medication when we had them), so we briefly investigated getting a low-allergen-breed cat (Siberian, Russian Blue). But purebred cats are upwards of $1,000. We’ve always been passionate about adopting shelter cats, and we couldn’t bring ourselves to pay that much when so many cats are in need of a good home.
We looked into reptiles. (If you’re interested in adopting reptiles, The Gecko Sanctuary Facebook Page is a wonderful resource for reptile adoption!) C’s first thought was a leopard gecko (thanks, Wild Kratts!). After some investigation, we found that an average life span is 6-10 years but can go up to 20! Between that and the fact that C was planning to take it out of its cage every day — so they could play together — we realized a leopard gecko was not for us.
Searching for a sociable reptile lead us to either a snake or a bearded dragon. Snakes don’t bother me, generally, but I couldn’t bear the thought of obtaining and feeding a mammal to the snake.
The bearded dragon was looking better and better, so we went to our local big-box pet store to look at the reptile section. A well-informed sales associate explained that a clean habitat and hand washing after handling make reptiles perfectly safe pets. Requiring regular habitat cleaning and hand washing from my 6-year-old isn’t exactly a sure thing. The final nail in the reptile coffin, though, was when the sales associate noted that bearded dragons require very careful handling, as they are fragile. She recommended something “sturdier,” like a tortoise, for a first-time reptile home. Our 6-year-old is inattentively clumsy, and our 1-year-old is a snuggle beast. I saw possible… complications for a fragile beastie in our current situation, so reptiles were out.
We thought about a bird, but decided against. I’ve always wanted a rabbit — they can live indoors, roam outside of a cage, and can be litter trained — but my husband refuses to allow it, as we have lots of wires and woodwork in our house, and we’ve heard stories about some rabbits being destructive.
After *all* this thought and debate (seriously, this took about five months), we decided a cat really is the best pet for our family! I ended up using Pet Finder to search for cats in our area, which led me to a cat at the Bay State Animal Cooperative. I cannot say enough good about our experience! Through their thorough intake process, they set up a visit for our family with the cat we were interested in, but they also set up a visit with another cat who they thought might be a better fit, based on interviewing us. We ended up adopting this second kitty they showed us!
So, we are proud to introduce the newest member of the Jackson family: Calpurnia (Callie for short)!
The path to a pet is a very individual one for each family. How did you decide which pet was the best fit for your family? Do you have an unusual pet? Please include pictures with your comments!