Most of my adult life, I’ve shared my home with anywhere from one to three cats. When my kids were very young, we had only one cat, and worked our way up to the three we have now. And truly, I don’t think I’d have done it any other way. For our family’s situation, more than one cat with two busy toddlers would have stretched my patience and energy … plus, neither cats nor kids would have gotten 100 percent of the time and patience they required.
Every family’s situation is different, and I’m not here to make sweeping generalizations; however, I do think it’s important for families to consider their unique situations before adding multiple pets to the home. I’ve known some families who had the time and finances to manage the growing brood, but I have friends who are definitely in over their heads and just can’t seem to say no. Based on what I’ve seen in the latter situation, the pets end up with the short end of the stick.
Families with kids can have very busy lives. Taking good care of even one pet can be a real challenge when parents are working and then chauffeuring kids to activities, lessons, and social gatherings. Sometimes a pet is left alone from early morning until evening. Certainly cats are independent, but they still require regular attention. And dogs are a completely different story. Families who adopt dogs are signing on for the next level of routine and requirements. Bringing any kind of pet into your family should be a major decision, arrived at after much consideration.
Maybe you find your family has done well with the regular care of one or two cats, and now you want to add another pet. What then?
Just because you feel like you’ve got the current human and pet family under control (as much as you can, anyway), doesn’t mean you’re ready to further grow your family. Certainly, many cats do well with the company of another feline, but what if they don’t get along? What if their relationship requires time, action, and patience on your part? Will you be able to invest in that very important area? Is the pet a baby or does he have special needs? Do you have the available finances to provide proper medical care and regular checkups for all the pets? Is the new pet used to living with other pets or children? These are all critical points to take into consideration before making any decisions.
I know more than one family who takes in every animal in need who crosses their path, and they honestly don’t always have the means or preparation for the situation. In turn, their home becomes chaotic, kids and pets are unruly, and the situation is overwhelming for everyone under the roof. This doesn’t help anyone — human or animal. I’m not saying we shouldn’t feel compassion or ignore animals in need — I just think we sometimes bite off more than we can chew.
So, what do we do?
When your child begs for another pet, don’t automatically respond with a “Yes!” Instead, have a family meeting. Talk about your schedule, look at the current situation and how well you’re handling the care of the current pets, discuss the type of pet and what her needs might be. The adults should examine their financial ability to take on a new animal family member. Maybe it will work, and maybe it won’t.
If a friend asks if you can take a stray she’s found, remember to think about your family dynamic and finances. You can certainly help your friend find a home for the pet, but you don’t have to be the one who singlehandedly saves every homeless pet. Perhaps she will be a good fit for your home, but sometimes the pet just won’t. Do what you can do.
For animal lovers, it can be easy to keep adding pets to the family. We want to help all of them! It’s important to remember to think through the entire situation and make a decision that serves the pet as well as your human family members.
Have you added additional pets to your busy family? What’s been your experience? Let us know in the comments.
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About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (originated right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in a comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.