Is Your Kid Ready For A Pet?

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Has your kid been pleading for a pet? And promising to take care of every single chore if you got them one? Well, they may say that they’re ready, but when reality sets in, the task of caring for a pet may be more than some kids can handle. It’s no small feat, depending on the animal you choose, and it often means extra responsibilities and even lifestyle changes. As a parent, the last thing you want is to take care of the pet all on your own. So if you’re trying to figure out your child’s maturity and readiness, we’re here to help. Ask yourself the questions below, then consider our round-up of easy pets to take care of.

Is Your Child Mature Enough For A Pet?
It’s a good idea to wait until your child is mature enough to handle and care for a pet, even if it’s an easy pet to take care of. This is because children below the age of 5 or 6 may find it difficult to distinguish a pet from a toy and may accidentally provoke an attack through teasing or mistreatment.

If your child is ready, reading pet care books or visiting a relative or family friend with a gentle pet can help them understand what taking care of one entails. Just remember to always keep your little one supervised in the presence of any animals.

Is Your Child Comfortable And Respectful Around Animals?
It’s important to find out if your child actually enjoys being around animals and isn’t just saying it. Do they tend to interact with pets? Or are they often frightened in the company of animals? If it’s the latter, it might be better to have a pet only when they’re older.

Children may also tend to give unsolicited attention to pets by riding, petting, or chasing them. This can provoke a defence mechanism in pets. If your child isn’t able to comprehend that animals sometimes need their own space, they’re likely not ready to be around one.

Can Your Child Handle Simple House Chores On Their Own?
Healthy habits like brushing teeth, putting away dirty dishes, and completing homework on time can all be telltale signs of your child’s ability to be a pet owner. They demonstrate a sense of responsibility, which can be advantageous when it comes to feeding, walking, or cleaning up after the pet. Otherwise, you may end up doing all of the pet care!

A little test you could do is to add an extra task to your child’s day and see how they fare. You could also get your kid to pet-sit or volunteer at an animal shelter to see how they interact and care for animals.

Does Your Child Want To Find The Right Fit?
Each household has a different lifestyle, and not every pet will be a right fit for your family. For instance, if you travel often, an active dog is probably not ideal. But a pet that requires much less attention, like a fish or cat, may be a better alternative.

If your child is adamant on having a particular pet and isn’t able to compromise on what’s best for the family, they may not be mature enough to take on the responsibility.

Are You Ready To Pick Up The Slack?
As important as it is to gauge your child’s readiness, it is also important to gauge your own. If your child forgets to feed or walk the pet, or doesn’t have time to do it, you will have to take it on. You’ll also be financially responsible for the pet’s healthcare and grooming, among other things. So ask yourself if you’re 100% ready to pull your weight.

Are There Any Health And Safety Issues To Consider?
Apart from choosing animals or breeds that are gentle with kids, you’ll also need to consider any potential allergies arising from the care of a pet. Pet dander, fur, or feathers can sometimes cause allergic reactions. So introducing a pet into the house may not be a good idea if your child is prone to allergies.

Almost all types of pets can also be a potential source of disease. So do ensure that your child practises good hygiene measures, such as washing their hands after feeding or playing with a pet.

7 Easy Pets For Kids To Take Care Of
If your child is mature enough to care for a pet, consider starting with any of these low maintenance pets for a flatter learning curve.

1. Hamster
When you think about easy pets to take care of, this furry rodent comes to mind first. They make a great first pet for your child, as they’re low-maintenance, quiet, and tame enough to (gently) hold. They’re also a treat to watch on the exercise wheel! To make a comfy hamster abode, include a water bottle, food bowl, said wheel, and a generous spread of hamster bedding.

How to care:
Clean cage weekly or as needed.
Feed water and food daily. Diet includes pelleted food, seed mix, and leafy greens.

2. Cat
Cats fall under low maintenance pets too, as they’re fairly independent and self-sufficient animals. Although they often wander off for some alone time, they still enjoy a little TLC from their hoomans from time to time. Make sure to prepare a litter box, water fountain, food bowl, scratchers, and bed if you plan to bring this fur baby home.

How to care:
Clean litter box several times a week.
Feed water, and dry or wet food daily.
Groom (brush or comb fur) regularly.

3. Goldfish
The humble goldfish is another easy pet to take care of and is ideal if you’re a family living in a high-rise apartment. They can be housed in an indoor aquarium, but as they produce quite a bit of waste, it’s better to attach a filter to the tank (plants and gravel optional). They also thrive better with company, so consider getting a pair or more.

How to care:
Clean the tank occasionally.
Feed sufficiently once or twice a day.

4. Guinea Pig
A close cousin of the hamster, the guinea pig is another low maintenance pet that’s a favourite among kids. They’re social animals that enjoy daily interaction, so your little ones will be able to hold and play with them. You’ll also get to witness these little guys ‘popcorn’ – basically jump in the air when excited – every so often! To care for them, just the basics will do – cage, bedding, food, and water. They typically keep themselves clean and don’t need regular baths.

How to care:
Clean cage weekly or as needed.
Feed water and food daily. They’re herbivores that consume mainly a fruit and vegetable diet.

5. Betta Fish
Better known as a fighting fish in Malaysia, the betta fish is another go-to for parents seeking a low maintenance pet for their kids. They come in a variety of vibrant colours that are highly attractive as they glide in water. As these fishes are highly territorial, a male betta should be placed in its own tank with sufficient water and plenty of breathing room so it can swim to the surface to catch a breath. Best put a lid on the tank too, as bettas are known to be great jumpers.

How to care:
Feed sufficiently once a day.
Change water in filtered tank regularly.

6. Tortoise
Did you know that tortoises are naturally social animals? These slow-moving reptiles can grow fond of their owners, if they’re respectfully taken care of. They may observe what their humans are doing with an outstretched neck or walk right up to people if they spot someone with food! For home rearing, opt for a species that stays on the smaller side. And make sure to keep these low maintenance pets in a spacious, open vivarium, with lots of sunbathing during the day.

7. Bird
In terms of easy pets to take care of, smaller birds generally fare better compared to their bigger counterparts. These include breeds like parakeets, budgerigars, and canaries. They’ll only need to be consistently fed and have their cage cleaned out. Other than that, it’s important to pay attention to the size of the cage. It should be large enough for the bird of your choosing, which means double the width of its wingspan.

How to care:
Provide fresh water, and feed with leafy greens, root vegetables, and fruits daily.
Place under the sun during the day, but indoors at night.
Provide a shallow bath two to three times a week for 10 minutes.

 

How to care:
Feed water and food daily. Birds generally enjoy seeds, nuts, pelleted food, green veggies, and fruits. The smaller the birds, the more they eat!
Clean cage once a week or every other week.

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