Student life can, despite popular belief and also presuming you have landlord permission, be hugely compatible with pet ownership. If you are able and willing to provide time, effort and love, and you also plan sensibly on the financial side of owning a pet, then you will be in a good place to start looking for what type of animal might suit you best. It is important to remember that different pets have hugely different requirements for care. There are lots of factors that you should consider ahead of deciding if a pet is right for you. In this blog we will talk about several pet options that are good for students and why.
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Cats are great for the reason that they are hugely independent. And they will be quite content spending long periods of time by themselves. Whilst you’re out attending lectures they will be relishing their me-time. They also usually prefer to be by themselves as opposed to being housed with another cat. This keeps costs from buying feed and equipment down for you. You would want to buy as much enrichment as possible in terms of toys, scratch-posts and boredom-breakers. You will also need to provide a bed and litter tray somewhere for them too.
If you don’t have access to a private garden or if you’re near a busy main street then I would definitely recommend looking for an older rescue cat who prefers to live just indoors. In terms of day-to-day maintenance, they will need feeding and watering once or twice daily. As well as grooming with a brush every few days (for short-haired cats, and more often for those with long hair!). You should also factor vet costs into your cat ownership plans. You should be aware of preventative and routine health care costs and also consider insurance or have plenty of money saved in case of emergencies.
Rabbits are smart and quiet and make good indoor pets, making them great candidates for a student. Unlike cats, they prefer to live with a friend rather than by themselves. So a cost and space consideration is that you will be keeping 2 rabbits with double the requirements for food and more space needed for roaming. You will need to provide constant access to hay (which can get messy, something to bear in mind!) and freshwater. You will also need to provide small amounts of concentrated food and leafy greens daily.
Additionally, you will want to provide as large a cage as possible for them. So think about where they would fit in your house, and also remember that this cage will need cleaning! Daily spot cleaning and a weekly deeper clean will need to be factored into your decision-making about keeping rabbits.
Rats, degus, chinchillas, gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs are all great options worth considering by students. I personally have 2 degus so I am a bit biased… But I think they make the best pets of all!
Rodents are very intelligent and can be trained which is hugely rewarding. There are various different requirements and considerations for each of these options. But some things to bear in mind would include that most rodents are mostly sociable animals (with the notable exception of the Syrian hamster). So you will want to keep at least 2 individuals, with ample space. Look into whether your proposed pet is nocturnal (active during the night, for instance chinchillas) or diurnal (active during the day, for instance degus). And see how large a cage is recommended for the species.
You also need to bear in mind cage cleaning. For some of these small furries, the requirement for sand bathing every few days. Also find out the life expectancy for these different pets, which vary quite a lot, and make sure that this is compatible with any plans you have for after university if necessary!
Fish are clean, don’t take up much space and are very pretty to look at in your home. They are also generally cheaper to take care of than mammals and don’t require scheduled walking or play time. However, to take care of pet fish properly is very different to just having pet fish. There are different types of fish that need different climates of water and some types of fish can’t be kept together with others… there are lots of factors to consider! Setting up and maintaining a suitable and enriching tank requires research, time and money for equipment that is not often considered by prospective pet fish owners.
So there is the whistle-stop tour of some pets that I think are good for students.
My biggest piece of advice is for you to do as much research as possible around the pet that you are thinking of getting, ahead of time
Then, very little can surprise you and so that you can hit the ground running with appropriate care. Prepare yourself well by buying appropriate food, equipment and care guides. Set up their place to live, and save money in case, God forbid, emergency vet care is ever required. It is hugely rewarding to own a pet, especially during university when you are getting more and more responsible every day. Preparing well and being confident that now definitely is a good time for you to own a pet is key to the process going smoothly and being truly special for both you and your new pet.