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Pets and Roommates

Something’s Got to Give: Pets, Roommates, and Apartments

The old saying goes, “It’s you and me, and the devil makes three,” but it’s not always so easy to tell who the devil is in that dynamic, especially when there’s a pet involved. Many roommates are super psyched to move in with another human and their treasured dog, cat, ferret – whatever. But sometimes it’s not that simple. Maybe the apartment just isn’t big enough to accommodate the three of you. Or maybe one of you two is allergic to pet dander. Or, worse yet, one of you doesn’t even like animals (GASP!). Whatever the case may be, if you’re looking to bring a four-legged friend into the household, it could complicate matters severely, especially if you don’t have a candid discussion about it beforehand.

The first thing that you BOTH need to consider is just how serious getting a pet is. Obviously they need to be fed and watered on the reg, but they also need a lot of attention, a lot of exercise, and a lot of training, unless of course you want poop on your pillow or half-eaten garbage littering your kitchen. You and your roommate(s) need to be fully committed to a new pet before you ever take a trip to the pet store or the shelter.

This means that you need to carefully consider your work schedule, your finances, and your living situation – if it’s possible that you will be moving at any point in the near future, you’ll want to wait until you are more settled before bringing a pet into the equation. Dogs and cats can have a very difficult time adjusting to a new environment, and if they are attached to either one of you, they could also experience severe separation anxiety when they are no longer being cared for by one of their two best friends.

The other thing you need to seriously consider is you and your roommate’s lifestyle. Most young people don’t want to be cooped up in the house all night and every weekend properly training their new pets. They’d rather be out enjoying their precious youths by getting plastered and hunting for poon. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the fact remains that the aforementioned lifestyle isn’t exactly conducive to raising a new puppy or kitten. These little guys are essentially orphans with no conception of how to take care of themselves, so they will need an owner who is willing to put in the time to teach them the ways of the world.

If this sounds like you, you’re in luck! Pets can brighten up even the dullest living scenarios and could also present a great opportunity for you and your roommate to bond with one another. They’re also a great companion for those lonely nights when your roommate is out on a date or on a work trip. And as you become closer and closer with your new pet, you’ll probably find that your desire to go out drinking with your friends just isn’t quite what it used to be. So not only will you be making a new friend, but you will inadvertently be growing up, accepting responsibility, and learning what it means to take care of someone other than yourself.

Lastly, remember that pets, especially puppies and kittens, will require you and your roommate(s) to complete an entirely new set of chores. One of you are going to have to feed it. One of you are going to have to walk it. And one of you are going to have to clean up after it. There are no exceptions to these tasks – no days off. Therefore, you’ll need to schedule all pet-related chores just like you would taking out the trash or shoveling the sidewalk. To avoid any squabbles if one or the both of you want to go out on a Friday night, I suggest that you schedule pet duty on a weekly basis rather than a daily one. This way you can get in the groove of pet ownership one week and have complete and total freedom the next! Of course, if one of you wants the occasional night off, you’re only a 6-pack away from working out a deal that works well for everyone involved!


In the end, roommates are only temporary, whereas pets will love you forever. They might not help with the rent or do the dishes when you’re not feeling well, but when they curl up on that lap of yours, you’ll know you’ve made the right choice.