Your kids are eager for a pet, and you’ve decided it’s time to get them one. Cats and dogs are awesome, and there are less well-known options, too. Weighing the pros and cons can help you make the decision.
They don’t call dogs “man’s best friend” for nothing. Dogs are extremely loyal and protective of their families, and they’ll bond closely to you and your kids. They’re also highly social animals, and most of them enjoy play. However, dogs are probably the biggest responsibility of any pet. They must be walked multiple times daily, and some breeds require high-maintenance grooming.
Cats are generally quieter than dogs and make fewer sudden movements, which can make them a good choice for sensitive or introverted kids. In fact, research has shown cats are great pets for kids with autism and other special needs. Cats can also take themselves to the bathroom (via litterbox) and groom themselves. That said, you’re not off the hook when it comes to bathing and grooming; some cats have long coats that mat easily or need frequent baths because they’re hairless. Cats are also prone to scratching and may not play as much as dogs.
If your child is ready for a pet but not the responsibility of a dog or cat, a mouse, hamster, or gerbil might be a good choice. Mice in particular are highly social and less likely to bite than hamsters or gerbils. Additionally, kids can enjoy the variety of accessories rodents use, such as wheels.