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New Home, New Pet

Martha Stewart Living Television

If your day is long and your home small, what sort of pet is best for you? To help decide, evaluate your lifestyle to see what kind of animal would complement it. For example, dogs and cats are interactive animals who can live cage-free, but they require exercise and attention. Dogs must be walked several times daily or have the ability to venture outside into an enclosed, safe space. Cats are primarily indoor creatures, but they also benefit from playtime and attention several times a day. And unless these animals are free-fed -- meaning food is left out for them at all times -- your pet will need fresh food and water several times daily.

Birds, ferrets, rabbits, and guinea pigs are as sentient as dogs and cats but need to be caged when they aren't supervised. These cages will need regular cleaning, and the animal will require daily feedings. You'll also need to bestow ample amounts of attention on them and make a point of interacting on a routine basis.

Smaller pets such as hamsters, gerbils, mice, lizards, or snakes also need regular cage maintenance as well as mental and physical stimulation. However, they won't need the same level of human interaction that a dog or cat would require. Should you come home late one night, you can rest assured that they will be fine.

If you decide to adopt, remember to look at rescue organizations; in addition to dog and cat rescues, you'll find rescues dedicated to rabbits, ferrets, birds, and even lizards. Rescuing a pet not only helps curb overpopulation problems, but you may be saving an animal who would otherwise be subject to living its entire life in a cage or euthanization.