When’s the right time to get a pet?

when is the right time to get a pet?
Do you ever wonder when is the right time to get a pet?

As a family we’ve got a long history of taking in strays. Around the time my parents took me in for foster care, my Mum was followed home from work by a cat called Brandy, who had lost her tail. What I remember most about Brandy was that she could do a little feline high-five. She was awesome.

Growing up with Pets

Growing up as a child, we always had pets. But as an adult, getting a new pet feels like a big deal. How much will it cost? Who will look after it? Do we have time? Should we get a dog, or cat?

I was the last child my family ever took in for foster care (Ha! They never got rid of me!) but Brandy wasn’t the last stray pet. There were gerbils and rabbits (someone emigrated), then a Siamese cat (someone realised they’d inadvertently bought Satan in feline form), and a beautiful rescue dog called Susie, who you could only stroke from behind because she quaked uncontrollably if anyone raised a hand in her eye line.

Within a year of leaving home for university, I acquired my first stray – a kitten called Basil who was being given away because his owner was pregnant. Basil was followed by a flea-ridden bundle of nerves called Parsley, who the lady from the Cats’ Protection League just “happened” to have in her car when we met.

My first dog

When I was pregnant, we bought a chocolate Lab, who we called Happy. I was thrilled to have a dog of my own, and excited for Flea to grow up with her own pet. Loads of people told me that this was not the right time to get a pet – but actually, having the chance to train the dog without the demands of a newborn worked pretty well.

Happy suited her name perfectly because everything that happened to that dog was literally the greatest, most exciting thing EVER to have happened. Seriously.


Happy’s life was one long round of ‘Ohmygosh, someone looked at me, that is fantastic, wait, that person spoke to me! This is brilliant. Oh my God, there’s food?? Seriously?? This is, like, the best thing EVER, ooh, what’s that? OHMYGOD SOMEONE IS AT THE DOOR!!!’

Those of you who have owned Labradors may be familiar with this trait.

Flea adored Teddy and the feeling was mutual. For a time, we were a happy pet owning family. Unfortunately, by the time Flea was three years old, we needed to rehome Happy.  When I got divorced, my ex took the cats and the dog turned out to be impossible to manage on my own. Looking after an energetic three year old dog, long with a toddler and a falling-down house was a LOT. I never thought I’d be someone who would give up a pet. I felt like a terrible person. But right after divorce in a new home in a new town is not the right time to get a pet.

The Kennel Club referred us to a local family looking to adopt, and Happy went to live on a farm (no, really, she does), and undoubtedly every day is still the best day of her life EVER.  But it has made me super cautious about taking on another family pet.

Getting a Pet as a Single Parent

I’ve had 18 months pet free and while there’s a lot less cleaning to be done and I can now leave the house knowing the dining table will probably still have four legs when I get home, the house does seem to lack something. And I think pets are good for kids – Flea is relatively hardy for a small girl largely because she spent the first two years of her life being sent flying by a Labrador puppy.

Flea is desperate for another dog. For the past three months, she’s pointed out every single dog she sees on the street, and her favourite book is a dog training manual, which she reads in bed every night. She says for Christmas, Father Christmas can bring her a basket and a food bowl, and then I wouldn’t have to spend money on them myself.

So maybe it is the right time to get a pet? I worry though that we’re still not in the best place to care for a dog. I don’t want to get it wrong again.

I often work away from home all day – if I’m in London I might leave home at 6am and not get home until 8pm and that’s just not acceptable when you have a dog. So the point of this rambling post is… I think we’re going to get a pair of kittens.

Having made this huge life decision, I realise I have no idea where to acquire aforementioned kittens, or what I need to buy to care for them. Pet insurance, probably. Anything else?

When do you think is the right time to get a pet?

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