What You Need to Know Before Getting a New Pet

On August 12th, 2020, I brought home my new pet kitten! He was an 8-week old tabby cat that I named Tobi. This was my first time getting a pet completely on my own. Although I’ve had dogs and cats before, these were pets that my whole family got together.

Meeting Tobi for the first time at 4 weeks old

Last summer, I was working full-time in an accounting & finance internship role, and the work was entirely online. I was spending each of these work weekdays sitting alone in my apartment, working. I thought it would be the perfect time to get a kitten. Because of COVID-19, I was working from home, so I could spend my time at home taking care of little Tobi.

I want to talk about my experience with getting a new pet for the first time on Big Sister Blog. Having a pet, like our parents would always say, is a lot of responsibility. There is also a financial aspect in providing your pet with basic necessities like food, litter (for cats), toys, medicine and shots, and lots of other things that come up over time.

How much responsibility are you willing to take on?

Like I said before, there is a new aspect of responsibility that comes with having a pet. You are taking care of another living being’s life. You need to feed them meals, give them attention, play with them, and clean up any mess they make. If they need something, you have to be the one to get it.

Think about how much time and effort you are able to put into this new pet. This answer will change based on your age, living situation, and desired pet. For myself, I was 19-years old, typically lived on my own in a small apartment, and spent most of my time in this apartment because of COVID-19. In a regular year, I would be out of the house for many hours, either for a job or school. I wanted a pet that was playful and could be a good companion when I was home. I also knew I would visit home frequently because of COVID (everything being online), so I needed a pet I could bring with me. My family always helps take care of him when I go back home.

At the time, I felt that a puppy was too much responsibility. I knew when life one day returned back to normal, I would be spending time away from my apartment during the day. I wasn’t ready for that level of responsibility at a young age. This led me to realize a new pet kitten would be a good compromise for the position I was in. Kittens still require lots of time and energy, but they are more self-sufficient than puppies. Once they are trained, they don’t need to be walked or taken outside. You can rely on the litter box and emptying it every couple of days. Although many kittens need a lot of attention when they are young, they typically grow out of this phase. Kittens are great companions and many breeds enjoy spending time with people. This was the perfect option for me!

It’s also important to consider where your pet would stay if you go on a trip (for example). In my experience, my parents and my cousins all loved pets. I knew if I had to go somewhere in the future, there would be somewhere comfortable for Tobi to stay. Make sure you don’t leave your pet alone! If you are out of town and can’t bring your pet with you, they need somewhere comfortable to stay.

Financial costs for a new pet

When you get a new pet, you will have to buy things you aren’t used to spending money on.

Upfront Costs

When I first got Tobi, he was too young to get any of his shots or get neutered. This meant I would be paying for each procedure on my own. If you get a pet that’s older in age, they will likely have most of these procedures already done, which is something to consider on the financial side.

An accurate depiction of work-from-home with a pet

Because I was working full-time last summer and had enough money saved up, I was able to afford the necessary costs for my new kitten. However, had I been younger, I might not have been able to afford those costs. It is important to get the necessary procedures done for your new pet to ensure they stay healthy. If these costs are too high, consider adopting from a shelter – oftentimes they will have these procedures done before they put pets up for adoption.

You will also have to physically purchase your pet. I found Tobi on Kijiji and he cost around $150. Make sure the upfront cost is within your budget too. As I mentioned before, buying from shelters is often cheaper. If you want to buy directly from someone like I did, you can also try negotiating the price down. I was able to save around $50 from negotiating.

Lifetime Costs for your new pet

Your new pet will also require certain necessities throughout their life you will need to pay for.

I will outline the ongoing expenses for a kitten/cat as an example below. If you are interested in a different type of pet, be sure to determine the ongoing costs you will incur.

  • Soft Carrier
    • Use the carrier for taking your new pet to the vet or on trips (in the car, airplanes, etc.)
    • A normal soft carrier ranges from $20-$60
    • I have linked the one I purchased from Amazon
  • Litter box
    • You might need to replace this every few years
    • Most typical litter boxes range from $20-$50
    • I have linked a typical-sized litter box with a covered hood
  • Litter
    • You will need a new box of litter around 1-2x per month
    • Typical litter replacement boxes cost $15-$30
  • Litter Scoop
    • You will need something to clean the litter box with
    • Litter scoops last a long time – you might need to replace this 1x per year ($2-$15)
  • Food
    • There are many brands of cat food your kitten may like
    • Try asking the breeder or shelter you purchased from which food your cat likes the best
    • Most food bags last 1-2 months and cost $20-$30
  • Toys
    • One of the best toys for a cat is a scratching post or tree – this will also prevent your pet from scratching furniture
    • Kittens like small bird or mouse toys, which usually cost $5-$10
    • Cats also need toys to play with alone, and an automatic laser is a great option ($25-$40)
    • You can even download FREE cat games on the app store if you have an ipad… crazy world!
  • Treats
    • Kittens should be rewarded for good behaviour with treats!
    • I linked my kitten’s favourite treats called “temptations

With all these expenses, don’t let them overwhelm you. When I stay with my family, I’m lucky that they help me with these costs. Think about how much it costs you to live for one month. The cost for a pet is significantly less! The reason I outline these costs is not to stress you out but to help you realize before jumping into getting a new pet that there is a financial component.

In my experience, I wasn’t aware of the ongoing costs when I first got my kitten, and I think it’s important to account for these before getting your pet. However, it is quite easy to budget for these things and minimize your spending if necessary. As a student, I absolutely have to budget to make sure I don’t run out of savings. I make sure I include a realistic estimate on monthly costs for my kitten. I will be doing some posts on how to budget soon, so look out for those as well!

Being a good parent to your new pet

My first night with Tobi

Your home will be a strange environment for your new pet when you first bring them home. Do your best to make them feel comfortable.

Set up an area that’s just for them. For cats, make sure they have an area for their litter box where they can have privacy. Make sure they know where their water and food bowls are.

When they come home, let them adjust to the new environment. When Tobi first got home with me he hid under the couch for 30 minutes. However, I just stayed off to the side and let him look around without disturbing him. I wanted him to explore his new home at his own pace. Be patient if they are disruptive at night or during the day. They are still adjusting. After the first few weeks, your pet will settle in just fine.

Make sure you tend to your pet’s needs and give them the love and attention they require. Play with them when they are energetic. Lay with them when they are tired. Empty the litter box regularly. Try not to leave them alone too much at first – they need people (you) to be there with them. Over time they will become more independent, but when your pet is young they will be more “clingy” to you.

Your new pet will love you!

Don’t worry, your new pet will love you! They will be very happy to have a comfortable home and loving people around them. Getting a pet is such an exciting thing! I absolutely love my kitten.

If you love your pet, they will love you back. Spending time with your pet can be beneficial for us too, as they provide companionship and a life full of love and affection. Owning a pet will even give you a sense of accountability and responsibility, helping you grow as a person.

Thanks for Reading,


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