The holiday season makes us feel warm and fuzzy and considering the addition of an adorable puppy or kitten to the family takes it to a whole new level. There is no better way to teach kids responsibility, patience and compassion than for them to grow together and share in caring for a pet. However, the real question you need to ask is, how prepared are you for a new family member?
Take a look at your lifestyle. Do you have time for this new addition? Do you have the resources to take care of this pet if things get tough?
Sadly many pets end up relinquished to animal shelters (or worse) after being given as gifts or adopted on a whim.
Here are some points that require careful consideration. All prices listed are approximate and will vary from vet to vet.
Essential startup costs
Desexing a cat costs $80-$120, a dog $190-$350. Shop around for the best deal on desexing and ask your vet for their best price. SPCA and Humane Society offer assistance for those on a benefit, get in touch with your nearest branch.
Vaccinating a cat initially costs around $120 plus ongoing annual costs if you plan to maintain this. Boarding catteries and kennels have strict requirements. Vaccinating a dog initially costs around $190, ongoing as above.
Microchipping starts at around $50.
Flea and worm treatment around $350 per annum, vaccinations (ongoing as above), dog registrations around $50 depending on your area.
For food, do your research. Cats are true carnivores and require a varied animal protein diet. Think of what an animal eats in the wild and try to match it. The same applies to dogs – they are omnivores and require a varied diet. Feed your pets a species appropriate diet and you will save long term vet bills.
Vet bills – how long is a piece of string?
Puppy training classes – assuming we all want a well behaved pooch – have great variation in prices. Country towns are around $100 for 6-8 classes. City, around $700 for 8 intensive classes.
Don’t forget ongoing costs of toys, beds, litter trays, cat litter and so on.
What will you do with your pet when you go on holiday? Cattery costs start at around $12-$15 per night. Boarding kennels at around $20 per night.
My hope for the New Year ahead is that we are becoming more informed about what it takes to be responsible pet guardians. We have a moral obligation to provide the best life we can for these special family members.
If you decide to adopt a pet this holiday season, consider adopting a rescue animal. Not everyone wants a puppy or kitten, and adult animals make wonderful buddies.
Pets are an incredible addition to our lives, but they need commitment from their guardians. Provide this and they will reward you with years of love, dedication and happiness.
■ Jan van der Lee lives locally and assists rescuing and rehoming cats and dogs in need, also working along side The Animal Shelter in Whakapirau.