What are the best pets for students? To be honest, probably none. Not because students are irresponsible reprobates who spend half their life drinking and the other half too hungover to look after themselves, let alone a poor defenceless creature, but because a student’s housing situation, financial status and lifestyle aren’t usually conducive to pet-owning.
However, if you’ve spent your entire life surrounded by animals and can’t bear to leave your animal-filled life behind when you go to university, here are some things to consider.
Your student housing situation
If you’re in your first year and living in student accommodation such as halls of residence, there’s a 99.9% chance you won’t be allowed pets.
However, if you’re in a student houseshare, you might be allowed pets but this will depend on your landlord, so check the terms of your agreement carefully.
It’s worth pointing out the laws on pets in rental properties in England have recently changed and landlords are no longer allowed to say no to pets without a good reason.
Still, even if your landlord does allow pets, this doesn’t mean cats or dogs are the best pets for students. Why? Simply because cats and dogs require a lot of looking after and students have countless other commitments tugging at their time.
There’s also the other people in your student houseshare to consider. Do they like animals? Do they have allergies? Will they be coming in late at night making a lot of noise that will scare your pets? Also, you certainly don’t want anyone smoking or vaping around pets.
If you’re hellbent on getting a pet and your landlord doesn’t mind, then perhaps a rodent in your room is the way to go. Rats, gerbils, mice and hamsters all make great pets for students (just be aware though that hamsters are nocturnal and will keep you awake all night gnawing on the bars of their cages or spinning on their wheels).
Even if you’re living on your own in a private flat or house where you could keep all the pets you like and you stay in most of the time, you need to take the cost of owning a pet into consideration.
There’s not just the initial outlay you need to think about – after all, a cat or dog from a rescue shelter doesn’t cost the earth but would you be able to afford the vets bills should an emergency arise?
Pet insurance is of course available but you might decide the monthly premiums are beyond your budget and there will still be an excess to pay. Then there’s the yearly booster vaccinations and, even if you get a small pet such as a rat, gerbil, mouse or hamster as mentioned above, they still need roomy living accommodation along with food, bedding and toys.
Students aren’t known for being financially comfortable and pets, no matter how big or small, all come with expenses you might not be able to budget for easily.
For those of you out there without arachnophobia, tarantulas make fabulous, fascinating pets. As an added bonus, tarantulas don’t eat much, which means they’re budget-friendly too.
For example, a healthy adult tarantula may only need to be fed once a week and can even go months at a time with no ill-effects.
The student lifestyle and pets
While a student may not put food, personal hygiene and clean bedding high on their list of priorities, pets are a different story. Even relatively easy-to-care-for pets need someone around every day to make sure their needs are catered for when it comes to having enough food, water and a clean bed.
So, if you’re out most nights or go home every weekend or holiday to visit friends and family, who’s going to look after your pet for you?
Even more importantly, what would happen if your course includes a year abroad on work experience? What will happen to your pet then?
Life after graduation
We all know the saying, ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ and the same mindset needs to be applied when it comes to the best pets for students.
As a student, you’ll likely be spending one year in halls, then two years in a houseshare, then… Then what? Where will you go and will you be able to take your pet with you? You may not have a problem with a portable pet such as a rodent or tarantula, but you’ll still need to take your future into account when choosing a pet, as you can’t just abandon it after you graduate. Rescue shelters are full of unwanted pets. Don’t let yours be one of them.
The best pets for students
If, after reading the above, you’ve decided perhaps a pet doesn’t fit into your circumstances while at university, don’t worry – there are other ways to get animals into your life.
Dog lovers can sign up to BorrowMyDoggy to connect with dog owners looking for someone to occasionally walk their dogs, or perhaps you could even set up a dog-walking service to earn some cash to supplement your student loan?
If dogs aren’t your thing, cat sitters – whether live-in or visiting once or twice a day – are always needed.
And don’t forget rescue shelters and animal sanctuaries are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers to help look after their animals – some even ask for people to simply spend a morning or afternoon cuddling cats! Of course, if getting knee-deep in muck surrounded by pigs appeals to you, you’ll be able to do that too.
So, whether you’re a cat, dog or even a pig person, you’ll find a way to integrate animals into student life.