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  • Writer's pictureNana Barratt

Find Out the Best Pet Type for Your Family

Photo Courtesy of Wix

Thinking about getting a pet? According to PetHelpful, 57% of American households have a pet. The most common types are dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, rabbits, hamsters, poultry, guinea pigs, and ferrets. Whether you've owned one before or you're just starting out, find your perfect pet from these 4 types:

1. Caged pets

While the title may sound cruel, it's really not! Pets like reptiles, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, and fish all live in their own tiny habitat. They don't need much or any time outside and don't require as much care as bigger pets. Buying cages, dens and tanks are fairly cheap, especially if you're starting out with one pet. Accessories and decorations are great if you want to stimulate your pet and give them a nice home, but you don't need to worry about their brain function and if they'll get bored compared to bigger pets, such as dogs. These pets are the safest for young children to be around and it teaches them small responsibilities, such as feeding the pet without having to handle it. They're also low-maintenance pets that mostly include feeding the pet and cleaning the cage, and are perfect for apartments!

For example, when choosing a caged pet, you need to think about the cost of their home (including any features) and food. While they drink water, the food really depends on what you and the pet are comfortable with. Most reptiles eat primarily insects and rodents, but some eat plants and vegetables too. Ferrets are also carnivores with a diet of raw meat and bones. Whereas, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs will eat hay and vegetables. While birds are known to eat worms, they also eat a variety of foods, such as seeds and vegetables. Lastly, fish are the most common caged pets, and are low-maintenance as they don't need much stimulation and often just eat fish flakes. However, when buying any of these pets, it's important to research if they need company or not. Many caged pets attack each other and thrive in their own space!

2. Poultry

You may have noticed "poultry" was on the list of the most popular pets, such as chickens, ducks, geese - any bird that can be legally kept as a pet and primarily used for producing eggs. Getting a "poultry" pet also depends on where you live. If you're living in the middle of nowhere or in a farmland, you likely already know someone who has poultry pets that you can look to for advice. They're great if you want to sell eggs in the marketplace or don't mind a morning wake-up call, but this might not be so good in some residential areas. They are relativity high-maintenance pets that are good for older children who want a more stimulating pet or more responsibility, or young teenagers who again, want more responsibility or to earn more pocket-money by selling eggs.

For example, chickens are the most popular poultry. Buying a chicken and caring for it sounds easy right? But it's really not. First, you have to think about how many chickens you're going to buy, as they need company, and are they going to be free-range or caged? Free-range is better for chickens as it boosts their life and egg quality, but you also have to consider the environment they're in and the space you have. Is your garden secure with a fence or open? Also, how many eggs do you want per week and why? What diet will your chickens have? Are you aware of potential diseases that affect poultry compared to humans and other pets, and if they're contagious? If you're interested in owning chickens, read "Keeping Chickens As Pets" by the RSPCA and "How Many Chickens Should I Buy?" by Backyard Chicken Coops.

3. Cats

You may have heard the phrase "it's raining cats and dogs," but this doesn't apply to the weather in this blog! These furry creatures are the most popular pets in existence, and we can see why with their cute features and friendly attitude! However, they're free-to-roam pets and require a lot of responsibility. You have to think about possible crates and outside homes, beds, toys, food, using the "bathroom", training, and time spent with them, and it can really amount to a lot of time and money.

For example, while cats need less stimulation than dogs, a lot of cats are outside pets and can get aggressive in unsure situations, which is not good if you need a pet for anxiety and panic disorders, unlike dogs. They also require less training, get along well with other cats, and love cuddles (because they need company too and need to feel safer than most pets). Cats often use the "bathroom" inside the house, known as a litter tray, which needs to be cleaned often. You should also be aware of feline diseases. However, cats are low-maintenance compared to dogs and great for children and families in general. Here's a list of the most popular cat breeds in the US, and here's an article by International Cat Care about raising a cat.

4. Dogs

Dogs are almost completely different than cats! They require constant attention and care because they need stimulation and cannot be left alone for long. However, this depends on the dog you want, but lots of dogs (especially pups) go to daycare, are babysat or go to training sessions. You can think of owning a dog as having another child as in their early years especially, they need need constant training and they can be costly. Luckily, you can search almost anything on Google or YouTube and get a basic idea of what you're doing, which can lessen the cost. Bigger dogs, such as German Shepherds, cost more and need more training, but are thought to be more family-friendly.

Dogs are very family-friendly pets and there's a different and perfect breed for any child of any age. For example, a smaller dog might be better for a young child regarding responsibility, but a bigger dog is better for an only child or a teenager wanting to take on more responsibility, which could lead to creating a small business or just getting more pocket-money, such as dog-walking or dog-sitting. For parents, they're perfect for walking or running with to get in that daily exercise too. They're also great service animals for multiple disabilities recognized globally, and there's support for them in many venues, such as airports and stores. Here's a list of the most popular dog breeds in the US, and here's an article by the Kennel Club about raising a dog.

What pet type do you think is best for your family?

Deanna (or "Nana Barratt") is an MA Creative and Media Enterprises graduate from the University of Warwick. She previously studied Popular Music, but decided to take a different career path into writing. She now writes about music, the TV and film industry, and East-Asian culture, and gives student advice and lifestyle tips.

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