According to the ASCPA, just the first-year total costs for caring for a cat can add up to $1,174, while a medium-sized dog may cost up to $1,779.
With an average lifespan of around 16 years, that means caring for a cat could add up to over $13,000 over its lifetime – more without pet insurance.
But before diving into pet ownership, students should evaluate whether now is the right time to get a furry friend.
Find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of owning a pet in college.
Students struggling to make friends may especially benefit from pet ownership.
They can help you make friends Riley Sailor, assistant director of admissions at Lees-Mc Rae College, a pet-friendly school, says pets can also be great conversation topics.“A lot of college students live on tight budgets and may find it hard to afford routine expenses for an animal,” says Rohan.Day-to-day costs, such as food, litter, sawdust for small animals and grooming supplies can add up quickly, and if a medical emergency should occur, that could be a huge financial blow to students who might not be able to afford care.Assistant Director of Admissions, Lees-Mc Rae College Riley is a dog lover and admissions specialist at Lees-Mc Rae College, a pet-centric school in Banner Elk, North Carolina.She is passionate about meeting new students and helping them achieve their goals.“Depending on breed, they may love joining you for a run,” says Julia Rohan, owner of Chicago-based Rover-Time Dog Walking & Pet Sitting.“At the very least, you're responsible for getting them out and about for three to five good walks per day.” That’s a lot of opportunity for students to get fit with their furry companions.Studies have shown that pets can increase people’s levels of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces anxiety and lowers blood pressure, by 300 percent.A 2016 survey conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) found that 62 percent of millennials have experienced mental health improvements from having pets.Animals need play time, exercise, food and attention, whether students are busy or not, and the stress of pet parenthood can sometimes replace the stresses they were meant to relieve in the first place.They limit where you can live Although some schools, like Lees-Mc Rae College, have pet-friendly residence halls and encourage pet ownership on campus, most dorms don’t allow or limit pet ownership.