Low on cash? You can still afford a pet

Allison Smith

View an audio slideshow to find out what pets are inexpensive.

Almost four years ago on March 17, Rachel Hunter decided she wanted a pet rabbit. She had just found out how inexpensive it was to keep one, so she made an impulse buy — one she doesn’t regret.

“It was St. Patrick’s Day, so that’s why I named him Lucky,” the senior electronic media production major said.

Hunter said Lucky is a mini Castor Rex and his fur is what you’d imagine the Velveteen Rabbit’s fur to feel like. She said he’s low-maintenance. All she mainly buys for him is Timothy Hay, pellets and bedding.

“The Timothy Hay is what he eats,” Hunter said. “The pellets I give him twice a day and then treats.”

Andrew Maglott, a veterinarian at Memorial Animal Hospital in Ravenna, said pocket pets such as fish, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils and rats are popular for college students.

“They don’t need vaccines, they’re theoretically portable,” Maglott said. “They are not necessarily high-maintenance pets, but they can have some other medical issues as far as ear problems, mouth problems, etc.”

Maglott said if a college student wants to buy a cat or a dog, they need to consider the costs first.

“There are always animals that are adoptable, but there are costs with those,” Maglott said. “Puppies and kittens in particular, by the time you get them vaccines and spays and neuters, through the first six months you can easily be running $300 or $400.”

He said yearly costs of a dog would be about $1,000 and a cat would probably be about $120 a year. The owner would also have to add on annual vaccinations costs. Maglott said the easiest animal for a college student to take care of would be a smaller one.

“The costs are pretty minimal,” he said. “They don’t require vaccinations annually and maybe a visit once a year just to check them over.”

Maglott said a lot of college students choose to own fish, especially in their first year because of rules in the dorms. Kent State’s Hallway’s Handbook says because of maintenance and sanitation problems, residence services only allow fish as long as the tank is less than 30 gallons.

Hunter said it didn’t matter to her, though, she still sneaked Lucky into the dorms.

“The first year I got him, my roommate wouldn’t let me keep him in the room, so he lived with my friend down the hall,” she said. “But it was really close to the end of the semester, and then I went home.”

She said she almost got caught repeatedly, but she was very careful about it.

“I lived on the seventh floor, but I was afraid to use the elevators when he was with me,” she said. “So I walked up all seven flights of stairs.”

Contact features reporter Allison Smith at [email protected].