29/05/2009 11:18 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Choosing The Right Pet For Your Child

Sooner or later your child will start asking you to provide a baby brother or sister. You may or may not be willing to oblige.

Then they will start pleading for a pet. This you may be more willing to negotiate on.

So if you're getting a first pet for your family, what do you need to consider?

How do you ensure that your child keeps looking after their pet, and it isn't just a nine day wonder?

Here are some points to consider if you're thinking of adding a critter to the family.

  • A pet is a family member in its own right, not a possession of one family member
    Only get a pet if your whole family wants one. And consider your wider family too: does Granny have a phobia of mice, or is Auntie allergic to cats?
  • Be prepared that one day it will be you, not your child, looking after the pet
    No matter how enthusiastic your child is initially, the novelty will wear off at some point. And that is when you will find yourself scooping poop, cleaning bedding and walking the dog at 7am. Only take on an animal if you are also prepared to take on everything involved in looking after it.
  • Who's at home?
    If you're out all day, this will affect the type of pet you get. Cats have a reputation for being loners, but you might want to consider getting two for company if they're going to be home alone. Some animals like guinea pigs actively prefer to be in pairs.
  • Pets cost
    As well as the initial cost of buying your pet, there will be ongoing costs including food, litter and vets fees. Pet insurance starts at around £10 per month
  • Rescue if you can
    The RSPCA has thousands of pets needing a good home. And they aren't all mangy mutts with dubious characters -- our kitten Dennis was born at the RSPCA after his pregnant mum was abandoned. The charity's highly experienced staff will advise you on the best pet for your family. Be aware that many rescue centres don't like giving puppies or kittens to families with children under 5.
  • Do your research
    It won't take much Googling to find out the inside story on whatever pet you're considering. Whiskas have recently relaunched their kitten website, with lots of useful articles and a discount voucher for catfood.

Above all, don't rush into buying a pet. Just like children, it's for life.