Keeping pets is an excellent hobby. The satisfaction that comes from seeing a healthy, happy pet thrive in your care is immense. Watching the pet play, eat and romp is a joy. Small furry pets come with a special bonus- their fur makes them pleasant to stroke and hold. Most small furry pets will become very affectionate towards their owners and can learn to play and snuggle with their owners.
Cats and rabbits in particular make excellent housepets. Both are small animals that don’t take up much space, make very little noise, and are easy to care for. They don’t need to be formally exercised or trained, although both can be taught cute tricks without much effort. Both cats and rabbits can be kept in enclosures (cages), but because both species are naturally clean in the house and can easily be litter-box trained they can also be allowed free range of the house. Other small furry animals that can be kept as pets include guinea pigs, ferrets and assorted small rodents such as gerbils and hamsters.
Cats are one of the easiest small furry animals to keep. After training to use a litterbox they require little in the way of care. Longhaired cats need to be brushed regularly but most cats will keep themselves clean. They require daily feeding, of course. They are carnivores and need a diet based on meat or fish. Some cats enjoy playing with toys and others are content to snuggle with their owners. Cats sleep for long periods of time each day and enjoy sitting somewhere up high where they can watch what is going on. Cats require a scratching post to keep their nails in good condition.
Rabbits are easy to keep as well. They can be kept in cages or can be litter-boxed trained and allowed to roam loose in the house. They will keep themselves clean but may need to have their nails clipped. They eat hay, grass and vegetables. They will need wood to chew on to keep their teeth in good shape. Rabbits tend to be gentle, timid animals.
Buying a pet
Both cats and rabbits come in different breeds and different colors. Common cat breeds include the gorgeous long-haired Persians, the exotic Orientals, and the stocky British shorthair. Common rabbit breeds are the adorable miniature lop, the large New Zealand white, and the soft Angora.
Before purchasing a small furry pet, research the needs of the animal and be sure you understand how to care for it. Also be sure you want to keep the animal before purchasing. Cats can live for up to 20 years and rabbits can live for 12 years. Feeding and providing veterinarian care will cost money over the years. While it is relatively easy to find a new home for a young, cute animal, older animals can be difficult to sell or even to give away if you decide to not keep the animal any longer.
Before buying, research the breed and the breeder. Make sure you understand how large the pet will grow before buying. A New Zealand white rabbit will weigh around 10 pounds at maturity, much larger than a five pound miniature lop. Also be sure you understand the temperament of the breed- for example, Siamese cats are noted for making a lot of noise, so if you’re looking for a quiet breed of cat, don’t buy a Siamese cat simply because of how pretty they look.
Research the breeder to be sure that you are getting a healthy animal. Nothing can be more upsetting than buying a cute new pet only to have it sicken and die within days of coming home. While any animal can get sick, buying an animal that is healthy to start with improves the chances of the animal living a long, healthy life. If you’re responding to an advertisement for an animal for sale, see if you get some recommendations from other people who have bought animals from the breeder. If you can, inspect the facilities the animals are kept in. If the animal is being sold as a purebred, it should come with registration papers and a pedigree.
Bringing the pet home
After bringing your new pet home, remember that there will be an adjustment period for both the animal and for you. The animal will need to learn the rules of the new household and may need litter-box and other training. You will have to adjust to caring for the animal and realize its behavior might not be perfect at first- it needs some training and adjustment before you will all live happily together. Many new owners experience “buyer’s remorse” a week or so after getting their new pet. But remember this is normal, and just keep working on getting you and the animal settled in together. Give it a few more days.
If you have purchased a young animal, keep in mind that it will grow up and will become capable of breeding. If you do not plan to breed, both you and the animal will be happier if you have the animal neutered by a veterinarian. Unneutered rabbits and cats may decide to “mark” in the house- meaning they will spray smelly urine on furniture. Unneutered female cats will come into heat frequently, meaning they will yowl and scream in the most annoying way periodically. Neutering will prevent these behaviors.
If you decide you really enjoy keeping small furry animals as pets, and have purchased quality pedigreed registered animals, you may decide to try breeding. This is not an endeavor to take lightly. You must understand the animal and the breed well. You must be sure you can sell or keep all of the offspring before breeding. If you are breeding healthy, quality purebreds it may be relatively easy to find buyers for the kittens simply by advertising pets for sale.