The winter holidays are fast approaching, and as you are making your list and checking it twice, you may be struggling with gift ideas. If the thought of a cuddly kitten or playful puppy wearing a big holiday bow is crossing your mind, I ask you to think again.
The holidays may not be the best time to expand your family, for many reasons. Most importantly, I think that the decision to be pet parents or to add another pet to the house should be made as a family. Giving the gift of a pet excludes the gift receiver from participating in that decision. While children will certainly experience the joy and excitement of a new puppy or kitten on Christmas morning, remember that adopting a pet is a 10- to 20-year commitment of both time and money.
The holidays are hectic times, with shopping to be done, cookies to be baked, lights to be hung, presents to be wrapped and exchanged (and inevitably some to be returned), holiday meals to be prepared and family and friends to visit. With all of this going on, adding a puppy or kitten that will need constant supervision just makes it more hectic. Puppies and kittens need a lot of attention and can easily end up on the back burner at busy times like the holidays.
In addition, the pressure of a deadline (such as Christmas Day or a particular night of Hanukkah) can lead to poor decisions. If you’re anything like me, procrastination is one of your vices. However, when deciding on a pet, you should allow plenty of time to research. Should you adopt from a shelter or pet rescue group, or would you rather purchase a pet from a breeder? Finding a reputable breeder takes time, and some breeders refrain from selling puppies during the holidays to avoid the problem entirely. Don’t let a deadline force you into the less-than-perfect pet for your family.
There will be plenty of impulse buys this holiday season, I’m sure, but I hope that a pet won’t be one of them. Consider waiting until the busy holiday season is over and then make the decision to expand your family with your family.