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Things I Wish I’d Known Before Becoming a Pet Owner

From the moment I learned what a cat and a dog was and that people actually lived with them inside their homes, I've wanted a pet. My mother, on the other hand, was not at all convinced that my sister and I could care for anything other than fish, so from elementary school to high school graduation, I pestered her and pitched her the benefits of living with a pet you could actually touch versus the uselessness of the fish she had allowed us to have. Finally, being a whole sophomore in college, my mother granted me my longest-standing wish. Mind you my dad had been on board about getting us a cat since we started middle school but to sustain the 'happy wife, happy life' theology, he was not willing to participate in this repetitive topic of conversation as it came up every family dinner.  


So boom, my sister and I got a pair of kitten brothers from a rescue shelter of her choice since I was still at school. The plan was I would get one of the brothers and take him back to school with me while the other (Jax) stayed at our family home with my two younger sisters and parentsand that's exactly what we did. Currently, I live with my cousin in our apartment with our domestic short-hair cat named Purcy, and this morning while filling his food, I thought, I love this cat, but why did I not realize how much responsibility they are until now?

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Having a pet is a great time, but there is so much that I didn't realize I would have to pay attention to until after spending a year raising my cat. There are vet appointments and shots (most often during the beginning of your time together), specific foods and nutrition, as well as planning time to actually spend with your pet. I can't even lie; in the beginning, I thought of all the things having a pet could provide for me (like companionship and help with my anxiety) without really realizing how much he would need from me as well. It really is a two-way relationship. This animal shares the same air, and now credit card as you, and is being trusted into your care to live a comfortable, safe and happy life. Your responsibility, just as it would be if you adopted a child, is to raise that cat happily for as long as you're lucky to, basically. 

Having a pet used to seem as simple as just what I said, having a pet. But in reality, whatever pet you have becomes like your family, and through the years, you get to see more of their personality as they grow older. The emotional connection you two form, even if it is shaky at first, is sort of shocking if you sit and think about it. If you told me you would trade me a cat that acted the exact same as Purcy but looked "cooler," I'd refuse because any cat that isn't Purcy, isn't Purcy. But if you wanted to trade before I even had him in my care and never bonded with an animal, I would trade easily. As someone who thought cat lovers or pet owners, in general, were crazy for saying they were "animal parents" and spending their hard-earned money on extravagant treats for them when they couldn't care less, I have to say, I get it now. It's very rewarding getting to provide something extra for someone you really care for, even if it is just a little pet. So while providing shelter, food, and care for your pet is important and things you should prepare for, prepare yourself for the life journey you're basically going to be taking with this animal. It will end eventually, but at least you get to say you gave this animal the most beautiful life during its time on earth. 

Niya Ahmed is currently in junior year of college at VCU and hopes to graduate with a bachelors degree in English and a minor in creative writing, at least for now. She is a advocate of furthering her education as well as the education of her peers. She enjoys all things media such as movies, social media apps and music. On any given day you can find her with her headphones in or a book in her hand. Niya has been writing for all her life although it is recently she has began to publish publicly. To find more of Niya follow her Instagram: niyaahmed22 or on Twitter: niya_ahmed18
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