Is Getting a Pet in Grad School a Good Idea?

So you just started grad school and you want to get a pet. Maybe you have been in grad school for a while and just want a furry companion to stay up with you as you spend hours writing away. Whatever the reason, you are looking to the internet to see if it is a good idea to get a pet while you are in grad school. Well, luckily for you, you came to the right place. Today, we are going to weigh the pros and cons of getting a pet and I’ll even throw in some pictures of my cat, Sirius.

It is a big decision, you know, getting a pet

Prior to grad school, I did not take care of any animals. I was always on the go and just didn’t even want to subject a furry little creature to the lifestyle of an engineer. Undergrad was just me moving around, going to work, going to class, and eventually getting to sleep. Yes, I wanted an animal companion so bad, but knew that it was not the right time for that, quite yet.

It was also a huge decision. Getting a pet can be like having a kid. I haven’t had a kid so if this is completely wrong, I am sorry lol. You will need to feed, nurture, and love your pet. And, unless you can do this, you really shouldn’t even be considering a pet. They are a lot of work, at first, but then it gets easier.

Benefits of getting a pet

There are many benefits of having a pet. I want to list off quite a few of those benefits. So, let’s get started, shall we?

1) They will help you feel less lonely.

You really don’t understand just how lonely grad school can be until you start it. I had to go to therapy because of anxiety and loneliness. I had many people around me, yet still felt super alone. It is hard to feel alone when a cat or dog comes and plops their furry butt right on your lap. The animal relies on you and will always be somewhere near. The will show you love and you can even talk to them without them talking back lol. My cat made me feel so much less lonely which helped to boost my productivity in my lab.

2) They will keep you on a schedule

You know what the best alarm clock is? A hungry dog or cat. So my cat wakes me up at 7:30 am every day to get fed. I have an automatic feeder for dry food, but his morning food is wet food so he is really eager to get me up. I don’t even need to set an alarm anymore because I know that he’s going to jump on my chest to wake me up. It’s great because I rarely sleep in. He also let’s me know when it’s time to go to sleep at night by curling up next to me. If I am still on the computer, he’ll start walking all over my keyboard so I have to stop what I am doing. He’s good at redirecting my attention lol.

3) They will show you love, even when your PhD/Master’s does not

The best part of having a pet is having a creature love you so much and pretty much worship you. I have a cat so that is not the case lol. oOgs, however, will do that. Have you ever seen a dog not excited to see you? The answer is no, unless the dog has anxiety or something, then they might be a little timid. Animals show you so much love and they will even show more love on those days where things just didn’t go your way. It’s great to come home after a long day of failed attempts to a wagging tail or a cute little hello meow. Each day, I come home, and as I turn the corner to walk to my front door, I hear meowing, letting me know Sirius knows I am home. It’s super cute and makes the worst days better.

Downsides of Pets

Do the benefits outweigh the downsides of getting animals? It is possible. Let me share with you some not so fun things about having a pet in grad school:

  1. Dogs need to go outside quite often. You may need to get someone to take out he dog during the day.
  2. Pets can be expensive and grad students don’t make that much money.
  3. Vet bills
  4. Flea Medication
  5. Cats like to claw things…well everything
  6. When you go away, you need to house them somewhere.
  7. They may keep you from being productive
  8. Your apartment or house may smell like your animal.

There are definitely downsides to getting a pet. Probably the two biggest would be that they can be pretty expensive and you might not be around all of the time to take care of them. Dogs, especially can be a bit high maintenance. Cats, on the other had, tend to do well alone and take care of themselves practically.

What type of pet to get?

What pet do you really want in life? Do you want a dog, a cat, a rabbit, a pig? I haven’t met a grad student with a pig, but that would be a pretty cool animal to have. The two most common pets are cats and dogs in grad school. If you aren’t allergic, I would go with cats. I love dogs, but they can be a lot of work, especially if you are not home a lot. Cats tend to just take care of themselves. They are super easy.

Dogs, however, are great cuddlers and make you feel really loved. If you work from home a lot, a dog is totally fine to get. I highly suggest getting a dog that is not on the aggressive species list because it makes moving a bit easier. Dogs are amazing creatures and I wish I could have one. Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time in my lab so a dog would be a bit too much.

I would highly suggest weighing the pros and cons before you make a decision. If you spend most of your day away from your home and just want an animal to come home to at the end of the day, a cat would be the way to go. If you want an energetic creature that shows nothing but love and you have the time and energy, dogs all the way!. If you want a bit of both, go for cats and dogs. Other creatures that are great pets are snakes, lizards, fish, and rabbits. I am fairly certain that all of these are pretty easy to take care of as well.

Final Thoughts

The best thing that I did for my sanity (emphasis on mental health), was get a cat while in grad school. He has taught me about responsibility, compassion, and love. He is also always there to keep me company. I don’t know how I could have done grad school without him. If you are thinking of getting a pet, please, please, please adopt one from a humane society. I adopted Sirius from the Humane Society of North Central Florida. They are always overwhelmed with animals coming in that need loving homes. I guarantee you will find your furrrrever buddy there or at a human society in general.

Getting a pet in grad school was one of the best things I did and has helped me so much. I strongly encourage you to get a pet, if you can. Show them love and I guarantee they will show you love back. Let me know about your pets in the comments. Until next time, peace!

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