Before I start: I'm actually really nervous to post this!! I know people have very strong opinions on their animals and it is NOT my intention to offend anyone with this post, so I hope that I don't come across that way. Also, I'm not referring to anyone in particular in my life about this... as I mention below, this idea came to me while out walking with Mike so it wasn't in response to anyone I know in real life :) Anyway, this is all MY opinion and totally not judging anyone that does have pets and loves them. I’m probably in a minority here but I really wanted to write this in case there are others out there that might benefit from my point of view. If you're a pet lover or currently have pets, maybe you should skip this post - my point here is to convince people to not get pets (or to wait a bit before getting pets), so if you already have one, this post may not be for you :)
Also, to give you a bit of background on me and my feelings on animals: I did not grow up with animals except for some fish, a few gerbils, and a couple hamsters. And actually, there was a rough patch where the gerbils turned cannibalistic on their young, which probably scarred me for life and may have something to do with my current feelings towards pets.
I have noticed a startling trend across the 20-something population: the HUGE number of people who own pets. The thought occurred to me the other week when Mike and I were walking through Arlington (DC suburb with lots of young professionals) on the way to see friends. EVERYONE we passed - literally, everyone - was in their 20s/30s and was walking a dog. (of course this is sort of a biased observation because people with dogs have to go walk those dogs and therefore I'm statistically more likely to see dog owners out walking around than non-dog owners... but STILL)
I mean, I get it. Dogs and cats are cool and cute. Heck, even I got bit by the pet ownership bug a few years ago. (remember when we attempted cat-ownership for a hot second? haaaa that was fun. Also in this post about how much pets cost, I said "I know I eventually want a pet" so evidently my mind has done a 180 since then)
But here's the thing. When you're in your 20's and 30's, you're most likely still getting your financial footing. You might still be paying off student loans, figuring out what you want to do for your career, figuring out where you want to live, etc. So why on earth add the financial stress (and emotional stress) of a pet at this time in your life?
My current list of reasons to not have a pet:
If I want to go on a trip/vacation, I can leave at the drop of a hat. People with pets have to prepare their pet for their departure, sometimes even getting a pet sitter or boarding the animal for multiple days at a time. I’m sure that’s expensive.
Speaking of, pet sitters/boarders are EXPENSIVE.
I’m not saying my furniture is that nice, but I would be INCREDIBLY annoyed if I had a pet and it ripped up/peed on my sofa, bed, etc.
- Want to move to a new area? You’ll need to find an apartment complex that allows pets. The complex we’re moving into in a few weeks has specific floors that allow pets. So if we had found that complex and wanted to move in, but there weren’t any apartments available on those “pet friendly” floors, we’d be out of luck!
- And speaking of that, you usually have to pay a big pet deposit AND a monthly rent fee for your pet. NOOOOO THANK YOU.
- I enjoy just taking care of myself at this time in my life. I have full control over my money; I can save it, I can spend it- it's up to me. If I had a pet, and the pet got sick/injured, I’d lose control of some of my money. I would have to (and obviously would WANT to, to help the animal!) fork over a lot of money to get the pet taken care of.
- Oh, and food: I only have to buy food for myself right now; not for another living being :)
- Pets are going to be in your life for a LONG time. Mike’s family's cat is almost 20 (human) years old… TWENTY! Being responsible for a pet for that long is quite insane.
I'm not here to say that pets are never a good idea. As I said, I might feel this way because I didn’t grow up with pets so they’ve never really been a big part of my life. If you do have a pet, that's great! I'll come over and play with your cute puppy any day. BUT! For those of you on the fence about it, I am here to say that you absolutely do NOT have to immediately purchase a dog, cat, rabbit, turtle, bird, etc between the ages of 25-30. You will not be missing out on any right-of-passage of your 20s. There are plenty of people- like me!- who don't have a pet and are okay with it.
(and remember- just because you see a billion people on your FB timeline posting pictures with their cute new puppy does not mean that EVERYONE is getting a pet. The people who don't have pets aren't going to post "I don't have a pet!" announcements, right?)
If you do know that you DO want a pet, you're also allowed to wait a few years until you’re on stable financial ground to introduce the pet into your life. There really is no rush. Take good financial care of yourself NOW so you can take better care of a pet(s) later in life.
Note: I do also see the flip side where there are a ton of animals that do need loving homes and I feel a little guilty that I do have the financial means to take care of an animal and choose not to. But I have to go with my gut; I know that I am not into pet ownership right now even though I theoretically could help an animal in need.
Further reading on this topic: Mr. Money Mustache’s post "Great News! Dog Ownership is Optional!" which includes both sides of the debate: MMM's list of reasons to not get a dog, and his sister's list of reason why she loves dogs. I liked reading both sides of the debate :)
Am I crazy for not wanting a pet?