My husband and I have been talking about pets for a couple of years now.  We have both grown up with animals and really want our children to know the joy that owning a pet can bring.  But, with a young family, when’s the right time to get an animal?

Our hearts have been telling us to go for it, while our heads have been shouting at us that the children are too small; the house is not yet finished; that it’s just not the right time yet.

It’s not just us who has been longing for a pet.  Olivia has been wishing for one since last year – a cat to be precise.  She loves cats and has a collection of toy ones that she dotes on.  ‘Little White Cat’ in particular goes everywhere with her and Barney Bear, and also goes to pre-school with her.

Over the last few months especially, and every time we walk past a wishing well, she stands next to it, closes her eyes and whispers,

“I wish for a cat.” 

She says it softly, the words floating dreamily from her lips.  You can tell she wants it with all her heart.

And her daddy has finally cracked under the pressure.

Yes, the other week my husband gave in and agreed to us getting a pet; a feline friend for Olivia (and the rest of us of course, although we know that Olivia will dote on it most of all).  We’ve talked about this at length and have decided that not only would the children benefit from having a pet but we are also ready for the commitment that being animal owners would bring.

I was so thrilled I posted the news on Twitter and Facebook.  Within minutes I had a very nice, kind lady letting me know about her newly-born kittens that are looking for homes (how’s that for the power of social media?!!).

We’re not entering into this lightly; it isn’t a whim.  We know that a cute, fluffy kitten will grow into a big, independent feline.  We know it could live for around 15 years or more.  We know it will cost a pretty penny in vaccinations and boosters, vets bills, pet insurance, de-worming tablets, flea treatment, food, toys and lots more besides.  We know we’ll need to take the cat’s needs into consideration when planning holidays and that it might mean us not going away as much as a result.  It will be hard work but we’re prepared for that.

Are the children too young for a pet?  Yes, they are young but they are both gentle and love animals.  Their grandparents have dogs, cats and more so they’re used to being around animals.

What about the house renovations?  While we’ve still got work to complete it’s all tied into building work which hasn’t started yet and isn’t likely to for a few years.  When it does start, it can be done in stages and will be carefully managed to minimise the impact on the whole family.  Other families own pets and have work done on their house so why should we let this hold us back?

And as for whether or not it’s the right time, I think it’s an issue similar to that of children – there’s never a perfect, right time.

If all goes well, we’re hoping to welcome a cat into our family by Christmas.  The only problem?  Olivia’s started to ask for a green one!

What do you think?  Is there a right time to become a pet owner?  And what are your tips for owning an animal?