A pet is always worth the investment if you have money and time for it.
Get a pet proportional to how much you’re willing to commit to having it.
Make things for your pet when you can to save money.
Do research on where their instincts come from.
Learn the tricks necessary to make pet ownership easier and more fun.
Why have a pet?
Science has proven that pets give people healthier and longer lives:
A pet, especially a dog, is also great practice for small children.
At the same time, a pet isn’t a replacement for meaningful human relationships:
Match your pet to your commitment level
Research what they need beforehand:
- Some animals are very social and need plenty of attention.
- Others are so antisocial that too much attention will traumatize them.
- Learn the foods they must eat, can eat, and can kill them.
- Consider their required living conditions including climate, humidity, and temperature.
If you’re near the holiday season, try adopting an abandoned pet in January instead of getting a new one.
Try to spend time around cats first to see if you’re allergic.
If possible, avoid purebred dogs:
- Dog breeding is a relatively new practice that creates genetically unhealthy dogs.
- Full-breed dogs live shorter, more miserable lives than mixed dogs.
- Mutts have better personalities, a longer lifespan, and a happier life, and they’re much more affordable to get.
Reptiles are often higher-maintenance (with heat lamps and glass containers), and sometimes carry unique diseases.
Make what you can for your pet
Most pet supplies are complete luxuries:
- You can often improvise what you need and save lots of money.
- 99% of the time, the animal isn’t intelligent enough to recognize what you made or bought.
- Most pet supplies are toys and consumer products for the owner, not the pet.
Make a cat or dog shelter:
- Place styrofoam insulation inside a plastic container
- Put a second plastic container inside
- Pad the container with straw
- Make a hole through to the inside
Depending on the animal, you can often make pet food from your leftovers.
Most instincts are either built-in genetic habits or conditioning:
- An animal has a rudimentary version of our habits, but with no self-awareness to reprogram them.
- You can usually train any animal to perform tricks if you’re patient enough.
- Working with most social animals (e.g., dogs, rats) is basic child psychology.
- Set and vigorously enforce clear boundaries.
- Reward good behavior and punish bad behavior.
- Your success comes from how consistent you are, not how intensive.
- Dogs are descendants of wolves bred into perpetual adolescence.
- Dogs circle several times before lying down to brush away debris where they’re sleeping.
- Dogs eat poop to cover their pack’s trail.
- Dogs feel anxiety if they’re alone because they’re pack animals that feel compelled to associate like a codependent gang member, not because they’re fearful like children.
- If you need a dog to come back, chasing them makes them think you’re playing, so pretend you’re hurt instead.
- Dogs grow anxious without enough exercise and need it every single day.
- Cats don’t need people and only stay around because people keep feeding them.
- Cats close their eyes and expose their belly to show comfort.
- Cats make their hair stand on end to appear large to a potential predator.
- Cats give small animal corpses as gifts because they believe you can’t catch prey yourself.
- Cats rest on warm surfaces like keyboards but prefer a closed surface like a large bowl or shoe box.
Static buildup during thunderstorms puts furry animals on edge, so run a dryer sheet over them or pet them.
Get rid of pet hair on carpets and furniture by running a hard flat surface like a squeegee across it.
Make a disposable scoop by cutting a plastic milk carton handle off at an angle.
Eliminate pet odors and freshen up the air by sprinkling baking soda on your carpet where the pet lies and vacuum after an hour.
If you want a cat or dog to use their bed, sleep with it for a week before setting it out for them.
Make a small pet bed by running a pool noodle through the arms of an old sweater, then taping into a donut.
If your pet has an encounter with a skunk:
- Rub their fur with a solution of half water and half vinegar, rinse with warm water and repeat as needed.
- If you don’t have vinegar, give a tomato juice bath.
Training a cat is extremely difficult, but possible:
- Cats don’t scratch or sit on surfaces sprayed with vinegar.
- To keep a cat from unrolling toilet paper, stick the end inside the roll or set it to roll down the back.
- Find out if cats use a litter box by drawing a shape in it.
- Get rid of cat litter odors by sprinkling a substantial layer of baking soda at the bottom of the box.
- Use a laser pointer to get a cat to shut off a light switch.
- If you practice with a small cat toy and heavily reward the cat each time it brings the toy back, you can train it to play fetch.
Train a cat to use the toilet instead of a litterbox:
- Have the cat use a homemade cardboard litterbox with torn-up newspaper instead of litter (you can’t put sand in the toilet). If the box doesn’t have a one-piece bottom, add a cardboard piece that fits inside so you have a false bottom that won’t become soggy and fall out.
- Once the cat is trained to use it, start moving it around the room toward the bathroom a few feet at a time. If you move it too far, they won’t follow and will still use the corner, so take your time.
- As you move the box, very gradually start cutting the brim of the box down so the sides get lower.
- Once you reach the bathroom and, eventually, the toilet, prepare to put the box on top of the toilet by cutting a little slash at each corner of the box and running string through the slashes to secure the box.
- Over the next week or two, put less and less newspaper inside the box.
- When you’re ready, cut a small hole in the very center of the box, about the size of a plum but less than an apple, and leave some paper in the box around the hole. The cat will aim for the hole and will possibly try to make it bigger. Leave the paper for a while to absorb the waste. He won’t be afraid of the hole because he expects it. The most difficult part is over.
- From now on, give it time. To avoid the cat jumping in while cleaning, have a temporary flat cardboard ready with a little hole and slide it under the toilet lid to use while you’re cleaning, and maybe with newspaper as well.
- Cut the box down completely until there is no brim left and place the flat cardboard under the lid of the toilet seat. Eventually, you can get rid of the cardboard altogether.
- Don’t be surprised if you hear the toilet flush at night, since a cat can learn how to do it from their instinct to cover up.
Dogs don’t scratch their ears if you clean their ears with a soft cloth dipped in diluted vinegar.
Dogs need water on hot days:
- Feed ice cubes or ice chips when walking them.
- Fill up a children’s pool with ice and let them jump in.
- Freeze water mixed with chicken stock with toys, carrots, and treats.
If your dog is lost, leave the following at the last location you saw it:
- An article of clothing worn at least an entire day.
- If it has one, the dog’s favorite crate and toy.
- A note requesting people to not move the items.
- Some water that you change intermittently at least once a day.
Some animals are biologically wired to hate each other:
- Predator animals like cats and prey animals like mice and birds have an instinctual eat/run behavior about the other.
- Territorial animals like dogs have trouble with other dogs and people they feel are taking over their territory.
- Cats are highly territorial, so they won’t like other cats coming into your home later.