Why Pets Don’t Make Great Gifts

This is the season for giving. But it’s NOT the season for giving pets as gifts! A pet is a huge responsibility and one that should never be undertaken lightly. In the case of a dog or cat, you are possibly signing on for anything between 10 and 20 years (Yes, pets are living longer!)

So whether the puppy or kitten is supposed to be a surprise, or whether it’s a planned addition to a family, the reason to think very hard about proceeding during the holiday season is simply a matter of timing. It is really a very busy time of year – there are parties, family flying in and out, cooking to be done. Often all this involves rearranging the furniture in the household to accommodate all of the above. Thus, from a purely practical point of view, this isn’t the time to bring a new pet into the home and get it properly settled and acclimated. There simply isn’t time to devote to the new member of the family that they need and deserve.

There are practical household reasons not to introduce a pet at this time of year, too. It’s usually a good idea to confine the new family member to one room for a couple of days before letting her out to explore. The room you have in mind may be the one room that Auntie Jane and Uncle Joe will be occupying over the holiday season. And guess what – Auntie Jane is allergic. Get the picture?

However, for the person who is prepared to undertake the commitment of a pet, there are other numerous pet-related gift options, starting with a gift card to a particular shelter to cover the adoption costs. This gives the potential pet parent the opportunity to go down to the shelter after the holidays and find their furry soul mate without any holiday pressures forcing them into a quick decision. On the subject of gift cards, you can also consider a gift card to your local pet store so that afterwards the money can be spent on acquiring basic pet accessories from a pet bed to stylish dinnerware.

Of course, if you know the family is going to be getting a fur kid after the holidays you can always purchase accessories from a fun coat or kitty toys in advance and place those under the tree. They are all returnable. No harm done.

The surprise puppy or kitten as a gift is a more serious topic.  There’s no question that puppies and kittens, especially wearing big red bows to celebrate the season, are cute.

But for someone who hasn’t officially committed to a pet, the surprise factor will wear off and so will the cute factor.

Shelters acknowledge that they get many returns a few months later when the person who receive the “surprise” puppy or kitten begins to understand the commitment involved. They simply don’t have the time. Or, they didn’t realize that this bundle of cuteness needs to be trained not to pee on the carpet! Or, they never realized that cats scratch and it’s important to train them where to scratch and provide the proper scratching posts. (And that sofa arms and expensive end tables are not proper scratching posts!)

I could go on and on. The message is clear.

Giving a pet a forever home is a blessing in itself. Thus it’s all about purrfect timing.

Happy Howlidays!

 

-Photo Credit: From flickr by alexbm

 

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