Just for Fun: First Pets

Updated on January 30, 2011
S.T. asks from Provo, UT
10 answers

I had a dog went my husband and I got married so that has kind of been our daughters first pet. She is almost two and does great with all animals. She helps feed, walk, and play with our dog. Her cousin recently got a few fish for her second birthday and it got me thinking what pets other families choose to get their children as first pets and at what ages. I'd love to hear what you all have done for your kids or if you aren't to that stage yet what your parents did for you and what you did or didn't like about it. :)

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answers from New York on

My kids' first pet was a cat that my husband and I adopted before we had children. The cat was great with the children when they came along - he had a personality more like a dog, and would follow them around and was very loyal. Never scratched or bit, even when they were a little too rough with him. He lived till about 16 or so - and the kids were just heartbroken to lose him. Since then, we've had a couple more cats (one died very young) and eventually got a puppy for them (actually it was more for me), but the funny thing about the dog is that while she likes me and the kids, she is much more bonded to my husband, who was never a "dog person." I think it's great for children to have pets, but they are a big commitment!
P.S. The only pets I had as a child were a pair of gerbils - we thought we got 2 boys, until one of them had a litter and proceeded to eat them all! Really gross. At least cats and dogs don't do that!

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answers from Modesto on

I had boys so we had lots of weird things like mice, tarantualas, snakes, a horrifying tokay gecko that escaped a couple of times and barks like a dog and bites to draw blood, rats, fish, crawdads, a couple of parakeets and the normal dogs and cats.
Except for the dogs and cats the rest were all phases.

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answers from Honolulu on

My kids have, and have had since about 2 years old and onward until presently:
Pill bug
Lizard... (and the crickets and meal bugs to feed it, which is like a pet too).

We still have all of these. (if for example a pill bug died, we simply catch more from the yard. Cute pets. Easy).

My parents, got us, when I was a kid, we had:
frogs (the common kind you catch yourself from a pond).
Tree frogs, which I had even as an adult.

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answers from Des Moines on

We got a Beagle when we bought our house about 3 years ago...that was our then 3-year old's first pet, but it was really more for me! :) About a year ago, she continued to ask for a cat...we broke down and bought her one. Then had to get another cat so the first one wouldn't wake us up to play at 3am! And now she has a Betta fish. She's very good about helping with them! She feeds them, plays with them, lets the dog outside. And she loves taking our dog for a walk! If she wasn't so helpful, I probably wouldn't let her get anymore animals!!!

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answers from Seattle on

My cat (living at my mums house after I moved out) half raised my son. 20lb (not fat, he was about as big as a cocker spanial) monster sized 1/2 manx 1/2 ASH. They'd chase each other around the house (once my son learned to crawl), my son would take naps half laying on him. They were best pals.

The first pets for OUR house we got were fish. They were *supposed* to be kiddo's "practice grief". Unfortunately the supposed goldfish were mislabeled and turned out to be Koi. ((Suckers are still alive)). Instead (man plans, god laughs) we've lost at least 1 beloved friend or family member a year since kiddo was 2 (the year we got our fish), and my cat -kiddo's best pal- died when he was 4 (at almost 20).

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answers from Fort Collins on

When my daughter turned three my husband decided to get her a guinea pig. I did not have the fondest memories of a guinea pig when I was younger it was loud and stinky and bites. However I decided to give it a try and he has been the best! He's very friendly and squeaks only when he needs something. He's basically become my pet since I am the main on that cares for him. Any way we also have three dogs and two goldfish. Which are also great pets.



answers from Cleveland on

We had a guinea pig, and personally I remember it being a terrible pet lol. The cage smelled so bad, it "chirped" all night and banged the water bottle against the cage. And it had a tendency to bite us. Not the foundest of memories.......
Pets are big job! My kids will not get any animals that I wouldn't enjoy caring for! Because after the novelty wears off, it's just not fun anymore!


answers from Los Angeles on

Well I grew up on a farm, so all types of pets were mine.
I had 3 main pets, these were the ones that would cuddle, and come in the house...
A cat that lived to be about 25 human years. It was the best cat I have ever seen, I still miss her. A little white shaggy dog, who lived pretty long but passed away from old age when I was about 12. And of course my pet chicken. This chicken was the coolest. I would toss her up in the air and she would flap down, she would raise her wing up for you to scratch her, she loved to just sit on your lap and be petted. She passed away from old age as well, but lived a really long time, and yes...the chicken was allowed in the house (just not overnight).
Aside from that we had turles, lizards, horses, goats, tons and tons of birds, chickens, lots and lots of dogs and cats, and cows at one time.
Pets are great for kids, I can't wait to get my daughter a pet. She already wants a dog. =) We think it's going to be her gift from Santa this year.



answers from Sacramento on

We've had cats as our first children :), so our two human children have always been around cats. Recently we got a pair of guinea pigs, which have been terrific first pets for our daughter particularly. She is now 7. For our son who is just 5, we've had to have frequent reminders that they are animals and not stuffies, so he has to be careful with them. Both kids play with them often and also have a part in their care, which will increase as they get older.

We also have 2 fish... a goldfish and a beta fish.

I would absolutely recommend a beta fish to anyone thinking about getting a first time pet for a child. They are beautiful and so easy and inexpensive to care for, and this came as a surprise to me, extremely social!! I LOVE our beta.

I wish we had done more research into getting a goldfish. (He's just a run of the mill feeder fish.) He's a pretty little fish, but goldfish are big waste producers, which means they need a bigger tank per fish than others. They are also sort of aggressive, so you can't easily put other fish in with them. Or snails or frogs or anything else interesting. The benefit is that they are hardy and can live without a heater. They will live forever if you keep their water nice and clean and give them a big enough space to live in.

Fun question!


answers from Albany on

Hi ST, incredibly my son got a gecko for his 8th birthday from a friend (and no, mom did not discuss it with me first, sigh). Complete with aquarium, supplies, a book on how to take care of him, and a CONTAINER OF WORMS, larvae, WHICH HAD TO BE KEPT IN MY FRIDGE, so they didn't turn into beetles!

We gave it our best shot, I tried to keep a good attitude, even when to the pet store to buy more worms (eeewwwwww-AH) and kept them in my fridge. In spite of our efforts Mr. Gecko died about 3 months later.


Years later, when my son and I were talking about it he said, 'what's the point in having a pet you can't even pick up?'

We have two Golden Retrievers, one of the best things I've ever done for my kids. SOOOOO much love from the dogs to the kids and from the kids to the dogs.

Have a great weekend!


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