My husband would tell you that as a child, his favorite memory of Christmas was when his parents gave him and his sister their adorable black kitten. His parent’s original plan was to give the kitten to him and his sister on Christmas Day inside a cute box. However, when they picked up the kitten on Christmas Eve, they quickly learned that it was going to be impossible to hide the kitten from the kids overnight. This kitten was rambunctious and very playful, not to mention he knew how to use his voice! So, they improvised and gave the kitten to the kids on Christmas Eve. He was affectionately named DC, for “Darn Cat!” He certainly lived up to his name!
A lot of families turn to birthdays or holidays when they are considering adding a pet to the family. After all, you can’t beat a better gift than a cute pet! The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) conducted a survey on this very topic! They were curious about the statistics of how many pets given as gifts stayed in the homes. The ASPCA concluded that 86% of pets that were given as gifts to their owners still are in their same homes to this day. That is a great percentage! However, if you or someone you know is considering gifting a pet to a friend or loved one, there are several things to consider.
Consider the Family Lifestyle and Dynamics
Before making the decision to go out and get a pet for a friend or loved one, make sure you are aware of their family lifestyle and activities at home. As the old saying goes, put yourself in their shoes, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Will the pet’s needs be met? Will the pet be adequately fed, regularly exercised, and cleaned up after?
- Will this be a financial burden for the family? Pets can be expensive to take care of, and it is not just about buying them food regularly. The average cost of owning a cat or dog can be anywhere from $800.00-$1,100.00 yearly. For rabbits and exotic pets, the cost of healthcare can be even more expensive than a dog or a cat. Regular healthcare is essential to the physical and mental needs of the pet. Will the family be able to afford regular visits to the vet for vaccinations? Could they afford to get the pet spayed or neutered if needed? Furthermore, consider the first year of owning the pet to cost more than average due to buying the essentials, and the actual cost of purchasing the pet.
- Are there any pet allergies in the family? If the family does not already own a pet, there may be a health reason for it. Make sure that anyone living in the same house as the pet will not experience any allergies or health issues.
- Is the entire family on board with getting a pet? Make sure the head of the household is OK with getting the pet. In the case of the mom or dad being gifted a pet, it is an excellent idea to talk with their spouse. If you really want it to be a surprise for both mom and dad, do the research to ensure the family will be on board.
- Advice to parents giving pets to children: Parents of children less than 12 years need to be fully prepared to take full responsibility for the animal, including cleaning up after it. Children under 12 years may not be very reliable with helping with the pet, other than to play with it. A pet is a great way to teach a child responsibilities but be prepared to double-check their work and follow up to ensure the pet’s needs are adequately met.
Consider the Holiday or Time of Year
- If you are gifting a pet during the holidays, make sure to consider the family’s holiday plans. If they are traveling for the holidays, they will need to consider who will take care of the pet while they are gone.
- If your gifting a pet during any other time of year, just be mindful of what the family has for a standard routine to ensure they can take on the responsibility of the pet, and it won’t become too overwhelming.
- Consider the pet’s stress and comfort levels during the holidays. If you are giving the pet to a family during a busy holiday, consider how the pet will become acclimated to their new home environment. If the pet is nervous around a lot of people, it is wise to discuss the idea with a member of the family to ensure they have time to devote to getting the pet comfortable in their new home. Most pets are easygoing, but some can take a while to adjust to new surroundings.
Consult With A Member of the Family That You Are Gifting the Pet To
We already discussed getting a member of the family on board with the idea of gifting a pet. Here are some other great reasons to have a family member involved:
- Get them involved with suggestions on choosing the pet. For example, maybe mom has always wanted a specific type or breed of pet, or Dad really can’t stand being around large dogs.
- You’ll have an insider to consult with on planning the surprise and where the pet will stay until the moment the surprise happens.
- You can have them help you shop for the pet essentials. Remember, when you gift the pet, they will have to have some essential supplies to go with, as it would be a little hard to go shopping for pet supplies on a popular holiday. Having other family members or friends help by gifting certain supplies would be such a great addition to gifting the pet!
It’s Time. Will You Adopt, Or Shop?
Once you have considered all the possibilities of gifting a pet, it is then time to decide on a specific pet!
- Choosing the right pet is very important to ensure they will fit in with the family’s lifestyle.
- Do you have a specific age of pets in mind? Such as a puppy or a full-grown adult?
- Will you go to the animal rescue to pick out the pet?
- Is there a specific breed of a pet in mind? Are there local breeders available to purchase a pet from?
- If you are set on a specific breed of dog or cat- always check your area for local rescues particular to that breed. For dogs, there are a lot of rescues that specifically focus on one type of breed, such as a Golden Retriever rescue. Check your area.
- If you are set on adopting a pet, check local websites such as petfinder.com or your local animal shelter’s home page (If they have one).
- If you are involved in social media, keep an eye out for pets. A lot of specific locations have facebook groups dedicated to finding pets new homes. Breeders also usually create facebook pages to show off their cute pets too!
- Use caution if you are purchasing a pet online– there are many scams out there, especially during the holidays!
- Plan on the process of finding a pet to be more than a few weeks. If you are adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue, they likely might want to do a home check, reference check, or have a questionnaire to fill out to make sure the pet is going to an appropriate home.
- Quality pet breeders usually are very picky about who they allow their pets to go to, so be prepared to answer a lot of questions.
An Occasion They Won’t Forget!
Once you have done the research and made the decisions, it is then time to plan on the actual act of gifting the pet! Will you gift the pet during the event, or during a quieter time? Will you do it at their house or at another location? Who will all be involved? Will someone record the event for memories? Have you given others involved a heads-up on what’s about to happen? No matter how you plan on gifting the pet, it will be an occasion that a person will never forget!