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Wondering about choosing a suitable small pet for your family? Should it be a cat? How about a guinea pig, a hamster, a gerbil or even a little mouse?
They all have their pros and cons. Get down-to-earth, practical advice – and let our years of first-hand experience benefit you!
Choosing a suitable small pet requires some thought. What would make the best pet for your child? That largely depends on a number of factors, and to help you along the way to choosing the suitable pet for your family, here is a summary of pets other than dogs.
As usual, we’ve done all the research for you and presented you with all the information you need to help you make that initial decision! Choosing a suitable small pet couldn’t be simpler when you get to benefit from years and years of our first-hand experience!
- Thinking of adding an independent, intelligent pet to your family? You owe it to yourself to take the every popular cat into consideration.
- The Rabbit may look like a cute and cuddly pet to choose – and she will make a good pet providing you are aware of, and willing to accept her idiosyncrasies!
- The bright eyed, friendly Guinea Pig makes an ideal pet – but they do have special needs.
- Almost every child has had a Hamster at one time or another. Check out these cute little pets.
- A non-smelly pet! – now that is a big selling point – amongst others, for the friendly little Gerbil
- Tiny and cute, full of playful antics and fairly easy to take care of, check out why the diminutive Mouse makes a good family pet too.
When thinking of choosing a suitable small pet, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you bear in mind the fact that you are ultimately responsible for your pet’s life. It is so easy to give in to a child’s desire for a pet, and indeed it is so good for a child to be brought up with a pet – but however old your child is – please do not expect them to be solely responsible for their pet’s welfare. It is a brilliant idea to teach your child the responsibility of caring for their own pet – but let it be under adult supervision, please.
When thinking of choosing a suitable small pet – the common domestic cat should come very high on your list of “Good Family Pet”.
Cats are gorgeous! Intelligent, independent, elegant and affectionate – what’s not to like about a cat?!
And yet…….. I frequently hear people say they are not “cat people”. Oh well – you either are or you’re not, I suppose!
However, if you are open minded about this, here are some facts that will help you along the way to choosing a suitable small pet cat for your family.
Cats come in a huge variety of colors, they can be long-haired or short-haired and can be thorough bred or moggies. They can be as elegant and pampered as your Siamese and Persian cats, or as rough and ready as your neighborhood flea-bitten tom cat!
Cats can live from 12 – 18 years, therefore they are a serious undertaking indeed.
Cats are extremely clean animals and spend hours and hours grooming themselves. They are easy to feed – with a huge range of ready-made food being available in every pet-store, supermarket and corner store!
Though fairly independent, a cat will make a loving family pet – however you’ll just have to wait for the loving to commence when your cat feels like it! Our beautiful boy, Toby would search me out to lovingly rub up against me and curl his long, fluffy tail around my leg. However, let me initiate the loving, and he’d storm off in a huff, looking disdainfully down his nose at me – cats are so full of attitude that they’re really funny! Our lives have been enriched by a series of these endearing creatures, and I would recommend them to anyone.
Cats make particularly good pets if you are short on spare time. They pretty much tend to take care of themselves and whether or not you let them outdoors or keep them indoors tends to depend on which side of the pond you live! I hear that cat experts in America advocate indoors as being the best place for domesticated cats. In England, where I live, it’s considered almost an abuse of a cat’s inherent need for freedom to keep him constrained indoors.
This is something only you can decide for yourself. Our cats so enjoyed their outdoor life that we allowed them to choose this lifestyle for themselves. However, as we lost three cats to outdoor accidents, we have chosen to spare ourselves any further heart-ache by refraining from having cats at all, rather than keep them confined indoors. You’ll have to make your mind up on this one – the jury is definitely still out, I’m afraid!
There are of course downsides to keeping cats, the main one that I would draw to your attention is that they are predators. It doesn’t matter how well-bred or well fed kitty is, she will still quite indiscriminately – and happily – kill little furry and feathered creatures.
Even worse is the fact that she does this just for fun – often bringing home her “kill” to lay lovingly at your feet! Also, watch out if there are fishponds in the vicinity. You could end up being on pretty bad terms with a few of your koi crazy neighbors!
The other problem is that male cats “spray” and their urine is really, really offensive – and I mean REALLY offensive! However, there are ways in which this behavior can be altered – and we’ll be discussing this in the section devoted purely to cats – which is currently under construction.
In the meanwhile, if you love reading about cats, you want to know about the history of cats, feline health, your favorite breeds, and of course cat art, that is just what Best Cat Art.com has for you to enjoy…
Next on the list to be considered when choosing a suitable pet – is your cute and cuddly looking rabbit.
Rabbits are herbivores, and they have a very varied life span, based on their particular type. On average, a rabbit will live for 5 to 8 years. Unless rabbits are regularly handled, they can get quite wary of people. If this happens, you’re likely to end up with a rabbit which is unsafe for children to go near, as they (rabbits – not children!) can inflict quite an ugly bite – and can kick quite hard too!
You can keep your rabbit indoors or out. However, if you do decide to keep your rabbit indoors, do be prepared for chewed furniture, carpets and electric cables – in fact, chewed EVERYTHING will be the order of the day! Rabbits have teeth that grow constantly, giving rise to a great need to gnaw – and quite frankly, your rabbit will not be too discerning as to what he uses to keep his teeth in trim! The safest place is in spacious outdoor, weather proof hutch, with a safe and secure attached run. We will discuss rabbit housing in more detail in the section we are currently developing, devoted purely to rabbits.
Feeding your rabbit will be quite easy, with most of his nutrition coming from a good quality brand of ready prepared rabbit pellet. Your rabbit will also welcome a variety of greens and vegetables.
A couple of points worth remembering are:
Rabbits are most active in the morning and late in the evening, preferring to be left alone to doze throughout the day. Disturb a sleeping rabbit at your own peril – your cuddly looking friend is likely to get a mad gleam in his eyes as he tries his very best to take a chunk out of your finger!
Also, do remember, a rabbit does not like to be carried, but prefers to remain on the ground. There goes the entire concept of cuddly!
However, if you are willing to take your rabbit’s idiosyncrasies into account and work with him rather than against him, you can quite easily develop a loving, harmonious relationship with your cute friend.
Another brilliant candidate high up in the running when you’re thinking of choosing a suitable pet is the bright eyed and cheeky guinea pig.
The guinea pig, also known as a cavie (pronounced “ka-vee”), is an infrequent biter, an unfussy eater and makes a popular first time pet for your child. They are friendly little creatures and thrive on company. Guinea pits team up pretty well with rabbits – and I even know one particular piggy whose favourite friend was a budgie!
Get your guinea pig accustomed to being handled and he will reward you with little chirps and squeaks to let you know just how much he appreciates you – they really are loveable.
Domestic guinea pigs are usually around 10 to 12 inches long and weigh between two and three pounds at maturity. Their life expectancy is between 5 to 10 years.
Domestic guinea pigs come in an almost endless variety of sizes, colours and “hair-styles”. They come in various combinations of black, white, grey and different shades of brown. You can get them from just a bit bigger than a fat hamster to almost rabbit sized. And they range from the short-haired varieties to the ones with hairstyles to drive any self-respecting punk-rocker to distraction!
You will need to pay quite a bit of attention to your guinea pig’s housing and we will discuss this together with other things you will need to know to keep your piggy happy and healthy in our section devoted to them, which is currently under construction, being crammed full of useful information!
You also need to ensure your piggy gets a sufficient amount of Vitamin C – like us, they are unable to store Vit C in their bodies and need a daily intake of this to keep them healthy. This is best added to their water and needs to be refreshed on a regular basis.
Guinea pigs are mostly nocturnal – though they will wake up for a little potter during the day. However, you do need to keep in mind the fact that they will want to sleep most of the day.
Another popular and easy to maintain option when choosing a suitable pet is the cute little hamster.
Hamsters come in a variety of colors, mainly ranging from white, grey and different shades of brown. They range in size from a diminutive 3 inches to the more easily handled 5 to 6 inch variety. They have a life span of 2 to 3 years and, with the proper supervision, make an ideal first time pet for your child.
Hamsters sleep through most of the day, though they will occasionally wake up to wander sleepily around their cage in search of food during the day. They are very active and playful at night and we had to make sure to move our daughter’s hamster out of her bedroom each night just so she could get some sleep!
Hamsters love playing on their wheels and their cages come in an interesting variety of shapes and sizes. The ones we had for our children’s hamsters were compartments of various sizes constructed of clear plastic connected via a maze of pipes for them to run through. This kept the hamsters amused for hours and certainly brought out the creative side in our children!
Two or more female hamsters will get on quite well, though male hamsters will fight – sometimes to the death – if left together for any length of time. Leaving a male and female hamster together is not a good idea unless you are looking to have a house full of hamsters in a very short while indeed!
Get your hamster accustomed to being handled from a very young age. Otherwise, you are likely to encounter a hamster that bites (they have tiny, needle like teeth which they sink into your palm or finger – not very nice at all!) – or wees in your hand each time you attempt to pick him up.
Gerbils are another popular pet for you to consider when you’re looking at choosing a suitable small pet for your family.
Gerbils are small, active relatives of hamsters, and are real little performers! Best kept in pairs, they will happily play together, burrow together and cuddle up for a nap together.
They are around 5 – 7 inches long (including their tails) and live for around 3 – 5 years. They make a good first time pet for your child (with proper supervision), but will need to be handled frequently to ensure they are tame.
They need a box with class/clear plastic sides as they burrow and you’re likely to end up with more sand on your floor than in their cage if you don’t watch out! A couple of plastic pipes and a water bottle and food bowl are about all they need. They are rodents, so do keep them supplied with gnawing material too.
Gerbils are reactive little animals and when excited they will get up on their hind legs, balance on their long tufted tails and thump their feet. When pleased they will let out tiny barely audible squeals. Another advantage which adds to the gerbil’s popularity is the fact that they do not smell – see I told you these pages would be full of useful hints and tips!
Perhaps the least thought of little creature when you’re considering choosing a suitable pet, is the little mouse.
Mice are timid little creatures and seldom bite unless they are startled or hurt. They are real escape artists and cage needs to be kept securely shut. They gnaw through wood – therefore strong plastic or glass housing really is the best choice for them.
It always surprises me that mice are not nocturnal – indeed they are quite active during the day and a quite fun to watch.
Their life span is 2 – 3 years. They are very, very small and need gentle handling.
Mice can create a smell in their cage but this can be prevented by cleaning their bedding and cage out weekly.