Cover art: Sadia Islam
Everybody loves the idea of a pet. A dog that's going to follow you hopelessly, a cat whose hilarious pictures you're going to upload and get a gazillion likes, or maybe a fat hairy spider like the one they showed in Home Alone.
You can relentlessly bug your mother into allowing you to keep a pet, and when she does say yes you're going to rush to Katabon thoughtlessly and buy the first creature you see.
But pet keeping isn't all that rosy, and most people don't know that. So we see that they buy something, and after a month can't handle it anymore. The animals are traumatised as they're shipped from house to house, and in the worst case, they die.
Before you get a pet, there are some things you should consider, because pet keeping isn't just about fun. When you adopt a pet, you take its whole responsibility. It's your responsibility to make sure it's happy and alive.
To start off with, don't get a pet if you're not allowed to. If your mom doesn't want a dog in her house, it won't change once you show her the dog. It will just get worse. You might think that once the animal is here, she won't kick it out, but it will go on creating issues. Your parents might refuse to let it into the room, keep it locked up in a balcony, refuse to pay for it, or at the least, keep on pestering you. And an animal can tell when everyone in a household dislikes it. If you keep it, you will end up making its existence miserable, and will eventually have to pass it on to someone else.
Pets are like babies. Even the most timid one will take up your time. You're going to have to spend at least an hour a day behind it, so think again if you're a lazy bum. Fish will need to be fed and have its smelly water changed, turtles poop. Think about all the yucky things you will have to do for your pets. While cats and dogs are like companions, small pets like birds get ignored. But if you don't spend time with your pets, you won't be able to tell signs of illness.
If you don't bother to Google a pet beforehand, you probably shouldn't be getting it in the first place. It might be where you find out that dogs can't have chocolate or that cats are lactose intolerant. Yes, Tom&Jerry lied! Buying a pet on impulse is probably the worst decision ever. You need to read up on suitable breeds and animal behaviour before you get something. Don't get something just because it looks pretty. Not all fish are suitable for bowls, and rabbits breed really fast. Even if you think you know what to expect, every animal has its own weird behaviour to disarm you with.
Before you get an animal, you should know its requirements. You need to make sure that it's not living in a cramped space, and that it's vaccinated properly. Pet keeping is expensive and tiresome. Know what meds to mix with your bird feed or aquarium water along with the basics like feeding and bath times. If you hurt or kill your pet out of carelessness, you won't know the end of regret.
And lastly, don't keep wildlife as pets. It's illegal, stupid and inconsiderate. Only keep birds that are bred for cages; pass on the rare tropical fish and local terrapins.
Then, with enough common sense and a lot of love, you can be a good pet owner. It isn't the hardest thing if you take it seriously. Puppies try to eat everything, and it's only after you've observed their reactions after eating a range of objects from pebbles to hair will you acquire true wisdom.