Son Wants a Pet

Updated on February 05, 2010
L. asks from Marietta, GA
16 answers

My 6 year old son wants a pet. I am not crazy about the idea of adding an animal to the household because I'm sure I will be the primary caregiver. He is such a sweet kid, he just wants a pet to love. Any suggestions?

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answers from Atlanta on

It doesn't look like my answer I'll try again...

We waited until my daughter was around 8--old enough to care for a pet. We started with hamsters. (It was all I could handle at the time.) We had a contract with her and explained all the rules and things that needed to be done. We explained that if she missed cleaning the cage 3 times, we would get rid of the hamsters. She did really well, and later we got other pets...when I was ready.

Let me say that if you are considering a dog, I think you will end up being the primary caregiver. I don't think there's any way around it. Puppies, especially, are a LOT of work. It's like having another baby in the house! Everything goes in the mouth and you have to watch them all the time so they don't mess on the carpet. You could adopt an older dog, but it still is work. Someone has to let them out on schedule. Sometimes they get into mud or whatever and you have to give unplanned baths.

Cats are really pretty easy and don't require constant attention like dogs, but there is the litter box to clean periodically.

Good luck!


answers from Jacksonville on

I would say a fish. My daughter wanted a fish tank in her room so bad so for her 3rd birthday we got her a beta fish and tank. She got to help feed him everyday and the tank was a nice night light for her in her room at night. Fish don't last forever but my daughter took it well when hers died she was sad for about a minuet til she got to pick out a new one. Walmart sells them preety cheap. Good luck

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answers from Houston on

cats are really easy, much easier than gerbils and other caged animals that you have to clean out - if you let them out to poo, all you have to do is feed and water them, they have to be the lowest care pets.
they give you lots of love too.

we gave our son a cat for his 5th birthday, he loves him so much - he took care of him for about a week, then i took over lol, but its so easy.

fish really dont give you much back, silkie chickens make great pets too, and are very easy also, if you have space



answers from Orlando on

I have a dog & a cat. I am truly a dog person. But, I would have to agree my cat is SO easy. She stays inside (I don't feel comfortable letting her roam)... She sleeps almost all day all I have to do it change the litter box out a few times per week and feed & water her. lol very low maintence.



answers from Augusta on

I say get a cat! They are so easy! you can even get a self cleaning litterbox these days! The right can is playful, and also cuddley. We looked up and got our cat from I've had dogs, cats, fish , and a bird. Buy far the easiest is the cat.



answers from Hartford on

We have had just about every kind of pet. A cat hands down requires the least amount of care, compared to the amount of love they give back.



answers from Indianapolis on

We have a dog and a cat - it's hard as they're kind of like perpetual 18 month-olds.

But, they were both here before the kids, and having a pet is one of the greatest things you can do for a kid. Our next door neighbors son wanted a dog, got one, didn't take care of it, and they gave it away to another family who could care for it better. So sad.

I'm not a fish person (I really don't get them), so I'd recommend a cat over a dog (they're more independent, don't need to be let outside and sleep most of the day. As long as you provide food, water and a litter box (which is so much easier to clean now that there are clumping litters), it's really not that much extra work. And, pets do provide an unconditional love unlike anything else.



answers from Seattle on

here is the thing about young kids and pets: they are a great addition to the family, you can use taking care of a pet to teach valuable lessons, they mostly are cute, cuddly and funny.
However, with a 6 year old, you do have to be clear, that yes, you will be the primary caretaker of this pet. If YOU don't want one, don't get it.
Most pets have the same popularity curve as new toys, they are great for a few weeks, then they grow old and uninteresting and the work involved in keeping the pet becomes a chore... a few months later the pet will be surrendered to the shelter, since unlike a new toy, it can't just live in the bottom of the toy box. So unless YOU are committed to take care of it, rather invest in a 'robot' pet.
If you do decide to get a pet, consider adopting one. Personally I would be hesitant about adopting a dog (I have just too many friends which adoptions didn't work out), but cats and small animals usually work out fine.
Dogs require a lot of work, ongoing training and taking them for regular walks and exercise, but are great for active families.
Cats and small animals (rabbits, hamster, etc) are easier to keep and just need regular upkeep of their litter box/cage plus social interaction. Cats can become destructive (scratching furniture) if they don't receive enough attention, but they are pretty good about entertaining themselves if they have to. Small animals like rabbits and hamsters can become aggressive if they don't get enough interaction...
You can take your dog to the shelter or humane society, they often provide information on what it takes to keep different kinds of pets and which pet may be a good fit for your family.
Good Luck!



answers from New York on

We have two cats (my husband's before me!) and while I have grown to love them... they are sometimes more work than my toddler!

When my son starts asking for a pet, we intend to get him some fish. They are low-maintenance, teach responsiblity and can be kept in his room! Plus, if you go out of town for a while, you can easily ask a neighbor to "watch" them w/o inconveniencing someone else.



answers from New York on

Cats, dogs, birds, turtles, fish, and hamsters. The list of pets over my years. My favorite of all of these has to be the hamsters (I'm alergic to the cats fur and the dog is really alot of work).

We had two hamsters we thought they were the same sex (we were very wrong). So then we had many hamsters and had to find hamster homes for the hamsters. We named the last one, Harry Whodini because he could get out of any cage we put him in. They are fairly easy to catch when they get out because they are not as fast at running as a gerbil or mouse. I loved making ornate cage configurations with the Habitrail cages but eventually went to a traditional cage because they could figure out how to get out. They were soft to hold and pet. They need some kind of wooden block to gnaw on to keep their teeth filed down. The wood chips for their bedding and their food is affordable.

My cousin had lizards and snakes. I didn't like those pets because they ate live things. So you had to keep other animals too like crickets and mice.

Ultimately you will probably be the caretaker for these pets. Another option you may want to consider is pet sitting for others, your child gets to care and love a pet and you get paid to do it for a time then they go back. It is the best.



answers from Kansas City on

I agree a low maintenance animal would be best. Fish are fun, my dd loves them. Her fav time of day is the time when we feed the fish.


answers from Raleigh on

We have a dog, a frog, and fish, and my frog is the lowest maintenance pet we have. The fish tank is insanely more difficult that one would think (we have bought hundreds of dollars worth of supplies because of nitrate levels, ammonia levels, etc.), and my son has almost no interest in them. Our dog is very laid back, so I would recommend a dog like ours, but the chances of finding one that is so calm are probably slim to none, so that leaves me with our adorable aquatic frog. Not much to love, but SO easy to care for (a little fish food and your done). We have thought about a hamster, but I wouldn't want to be cleaning it's cage out. Good matter what, it will become your responsibility pretty fast!



answers from Macon on

We got a 6 week old puppy when my boys were 11 and 6. At first, my oldest did took care of her some and the yougest didn't do much. Anyway, 3 years later, my 9 year old is taking care of her more and really good at playing with her. The 14 year old keeps her in bed with him at night. So, we're sharing in her care, yet I am still her primary caregiver. Are you just getting a pet for him or do you yearn for one too? I really wanted a dog and didn't mind taking care of her. I love her so much and since I don't work she keeps me company. She's 12 pounds and the ultimate lap dog. I wouldn't trade her for anything! Make sure you get a pet you'll both like and wouldn't mind taking care of!



answers from Albany on

I have a 5 year old, a 4 year old and twin 2 year olds and we just got a cat this fall. It is the best pet as far as care because they are pretty self sufficient. The initial cost can be a bit expensive depending on the vet you have because of the shots and if you decide to get it neutered/spayed and declawed. We did have problems with the cat scratching the kids when they would bother her too much but we got her declawed and she is much better now. I recommend a male cat because it is cheaper to get them neutered and they have a shorter recovery time. Having said all this, I prefer dogs for their companionship, they are just too much care for our situation.



answers from Pittsburgh on

We have a dog. But my son got a goldfish as a party favor and although the original died after about 3 days, his replacement is going strong about 18 months later. Fairly low maintenance but as for "loving" a fish......LOL



answers from St. Louis on

I have two cats that I have had for 14 years and I would recommend a cat hands down over a dog any day! We added a dog to our family for months ago and although she is a really great anumal she is VERY high maintenance. My sons enjoy her, but like you said, Mom is the primamry caregiver... FIsh are good but you still have to keep the water clean and balanced and all that jazz. I'd recommend a small rodent, hamster, gerbil.... stick them in the ball and let them roll around while you dump the cage out and tidy things up.

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