Recently, a friend was visiting. While enjoying interacting with one of our cats, they mentioned they're considering getting a cat. I asked if they were aware of the commitment, including the financial commitment (especially for a kitten or puppy, being spayed/ neutered and vaccines) involved in caring for an animal family member. We talked about the option of fostering, a fixed short-term commitment, to assist in their decision making re: a longer term commitment.
Many people think about the happy and fun aspects of having an animal companion. It can be easy to forget animal family members are your dependents and require more than love. They need regular and daily play, mental stimulation, outdoor time (for some), committed care when they are sick and/or old (many animal companions are disgarded, due to illness or age, in our disposable society), healthy food and water, bedding, basic supplies (crates, leashes, dishes, toys, litter boxes, etc.).
This article from Canadian Living Magazine outlines both some considerations and annual costs for caring for a variety of animal companions. As the author mentions briefly at the beginning of the article, there are alternative ways to have animals in your life. Think about becoming a volunteer at a local rescue or shelter, or helping your neighbours with their animals (walking or providing care when they go away), or fostering animals.
Other considerations to think about include adopting your animal companion from a shelter, and considering adopting an older animal. Be mindful that seniors, special needs, and black cats and dogs are often the last to be adopted (simply due to their colour).
Lots to think about! Being an animal guardian is very rewarding and takes time, money and energy. Give thought to the commitment involved *before* becoming an animal guardian and your animal(s) will thank you!