Having a pet in the family can be a rewarding experience bringing much joy and pleasure to everyone. It is a wonderful way to teach children responsibility, caring for the daily needs of a living creature.
However, with today’s hectic lifestyles of homework, after school activities and busy working Mums and Dads, finding the time and commitment for an animal can be difficult. It is not impossible, though.
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Here are three easy-to-look-after pets that all your family will love!
Goldfish are cheap to buy and make a great first pet for children of any age, requiring little maintenance. They can live for ten years, if not longer.
It is preferable to keep a goldfish in a tank rather than a bowl, as a bowl leaves little room for oxygen and restricts growth.
The tank needs to be at least three feet long with a volume of 20 gallons (75 litres). You will need a bigger size if you have more than one fish. Goldfish produce a lot of waste, so it is important that you have a filter and keep the water at room temperature.
A fish requires feeding once a day, but care must be taken not to overfeed it. The tank will need a third of the water changing once a week.
Although a child is unable to handle a goldfish, they can gain great pleasure looking after it and show their creative side by choosing a variety of plants and ornaments to decorate the inside of the tank.
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Out of all the pet birds available, a canary is the easiest to look after and can live for fifteen years.
It does not require one-on-one interaction, as they dislike being handled, but can give much pleasure to their owners with their beautiful singing.
They are solitary creatures and happy to remain in their cage so long as it is big enough to fly around.
The cage should be tall and at least 20 inches (50cm) wide with two perches to fly between, and positioned away from any drafts. Add plenty of toys to keep the canary occupied along with a birdbath. The bath should be offered at least once a week, preferably in the morning so that the canary has time to dry.
The canary will need to be fed fresh bird seed once a day and have constant clean water. Food and water dishes should also be rinsed out daily, and liners placed at the bottom of the cage for droppings, removed and replaced with fresh ones.
Once a week the cage will require a full clean with disinfectant, using 10% bleach and 90% water.
Canaries are great companions and sing a range of different tunes, cheering up the dullest of days. They will keep your family entertained for years.
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If you have older children and prefer a bigger pet offering more one on one interaction, then a cat is a perfect choice. Providing they have food, water, a litter tray, a scratching post and toys, they are easy to look after.
Cats are extremely independent and self-sufficient and rarely concerned if their owners are out all day. Outdoor cats will go exploring, but most of the time they tend to sleep and, unlike dogs, do not require walking or grooming. They are also very hygienic, and a cat will spend extended periods cleaning itself.
They are social animals and make great companions but need to be treated gently, teaching a child empathy and compassion. Children can have great fun playing with a cat, which will help build a lasting bond between them.
Cats can live for fifteen years, sometimes longer, so will very much become part of the family.