What You Need to Know About Owning a Pet in College: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Every morning for quite some time now, I have been woken by the sound of a plastic bottle cap sliding across the hardwood outside my bedroom door. At first, I think that one of my roommates has kicked the piece of rubbish that now permanently resides on our kitchen floor, before hearing the sound of claws dancing around after it.

Lola, our “family cat”, resides in my third story apartment along with my three roommates and me. She loves to test all the mixed drinks that get left behind on the counter after a wild night of partying by gently dipping her paw in each cup and licking it. She usually shakes her head in dismay and scurries off to find a new activity to keep her entertained.

By now, you are probably wondering why I am telling you the monotonous details of Lola’s life. Every morning, when I hear the bottle cap skim the floor, I can’t help but think to myself what Lola’s life would be like if she wasn’t pent up in a college apartment that doesn’t even allow pets in the first place.

After a great deal of research and first-hand experience, I have found that there are many pros and cons of owning a pet in college. I will start off with the things that every college kid, including myself, wants to hear when considering owning a pet.

Pets are like an adorable, live-in, always-there-when-you-need-them best friend. They never seem to refuse a cuddle session or a late night snack, and they definitely can’t turn down spending quality time with you. Plus, if you need to take a break from studying, your pet will always be the first one by your side. Pets make you instantly popular as well. Your friends will start stopping by “just because” and soon they will have more selfies with your pet on their social media accounts than with you. It all sounds pretty great, right? But, pets can be a lot of hard work too.

Pets require a lot of time and money… something college students seem to not have enough of. Often times while sitting at the table and sipping my early morning coffee, I overhear my roommate frantically talking to someone on the phone about the price of Lola’s previous vet bill or her upcoming bag of food. Not only do pets require checkups, they need vaccinations, medications, food, exercise and a lot of love and care. Not to mention, an environment that is always loud, filled with toxic alcoholic drinks strewed across the kitchen counter and the constant hustle-bustle of people coming in and out is no place to keep a pet.

So why does all this matter to you anyway? Campus West is filled with an assortment of pets and a variety of places where these pets can be adopted. Places like Animal House Rescue and All Aboard Animal Rescue just down the street from CSU’s campus make it incredibly easy to adopt one of these furry friends.

In fact, while getting my own dose of animal therapy, I found out just how easy it was to take home one of these adorable animals. During a visit to the shelter, I fell in love with a beagle mix named Maya. I told the lady at the front desk that I was interested in adopting her. Without hesitation, she told me to fill out an application and that I would hear back within 48 hours. She knew that I lived in an apartment and had no steady source of income, yet she still strongly encouraged me to follow through with the adoption and sounded quite reassuring that I would be taking Maya home with me.

My point is that although every college student has a special place in their heart for these cute and lovable pets, not every college student is fit to own one. Pets are a huge responsibility and sometimes college students, including myself, don’t realize it until it’s too late. It doesn’t make it any easier when adoption shelters make it incredibly easy to become an overnight owner of a long-term commitment.

For me, it’s the thought of knowing Lola’s only outside interactions are the ones she gets when she ventures out onto the balcony when the patio door accidentally gets left open; or that she is dipping her little white paws into a concoction of alcoholic poisons and sugary chasers. Of course, like every situation, there is a long list of pros and cons, but unfortunately, in this case, the cons outweigh the pros.