This guest post is by Eva McKnight, a senior at Anderson University in Indianapolis studying communication arts with a focus in public relations. When Eva’s not working for Fifth Street Communications, AU’s student-staffed PR firm, or as a public relations intern for Formstack, you can find her hanging out with her friends or taking too many pictures of her cat. Probably the latter.


During the month of August, fish sales in pet stores increase by 28 percent. Okay, so I may have just made up that statistic, but I’m sure millions of college freshmen are purchasing fishbowls alongside their dorm supplies this year. It’s not uncommon for college students to own aquarium pets, but what about the co-eds you see running with their dogs or Tweeting pictures of their cats? Unfortunately, your parents were right – pets do carry a degree of responsibility, but they can be pretty awesome to have as you begin the venture into “real person” territory. But what kind is best for you? Here are some things to consider when choosing your perfect pet:

Fish/Hermit Crabs/Turtles – Aquarium Pets

    • Pros:
      1. Easy to take care of – all you need to keep them alive are food pellets and the occasional bowl cleaning. Some aquariums are even self-cleaning, so these pets are literally the most low maintenance ever.
      2. Because you won’t always be using their name in a command (sit, come, stay), you can name them outrageous things like “Maximillian Godzilla III.” I bet they secretly love it.
    • Cons
      1. Low cuddle-ability. Taking your goldfish out of its bowl to sleep in your bed at night is not advisable.
      2. Low entertainment value. Have you ever spent hours playing with your fish? Yeah, me neither.

Hamsters/Guinea Pigs/Rabbits – Cage Pets

    • Pros:
      1. “Cage pets” can be slightly more entertaining than fish and other aquarium pets. Ever watched a hamster run on a wheel? Ever fed a carrot to a baby rabbit? Enough said.
      2. Cute level: Moderate to High. See carrot and baby rabbit.
    • Cons:
      1. Smelly factor: Moderate to High. If you don’t keep their cages clean, your apartment could begin smelling quite unsavory. Not okay if you plan to have parties and/or members of the opposite sex over.
      2. These kind of pets must be skilled lock-pickers, because they tend to easily escape from their cages. Sometimes you find them, sometimes you don’t. Either way, what does this mean from this perspective? Something to nibble on – get it?!


    • Pros:
      1. Popularity factor: High. Cats are all over the Internets right now. If you get a cat, you’ll probably join an elite rank of Instagrammers who catch the perfect cat yawn on camera. Bam – viral status.
      2. Maintenance level: Low to Moderate. Compared to dogs, cats are fairly low maintenance. Going away for a weekend? No need to board your feline – just set out a few bowls of cat food and you’re good to go.
    • Cons:
      1. Cost: Moderate to High. While cost of cat food and litter doesn’t seem like much at the time, it can add up. If your  pet food costs $15 and your litter $10 each month, that’s approximately $300 per year. If they need shots, that number can quickly multiply.
      2. Smelly factor: Moderate (hopefully!). Cleaning the litter box is an easy task, but can cause a massively smelly home if neglected. See “Cage Pets.”


    • Pros:
      1. Fun level: High. Dogs are easily the most high-energy pet, meaning they’re usually game for a walk or a game of tug-of-war. Also, they’re generally pretty loyal, so when they’re pooped from playing, you can enjoy a nice cuddle session with your pooch.
      2. Cute level: High. Even the most annoying dogs – I’m keeping my opinions to myself of that subject – are still pretty adorable. The plethora of YouTube puppy videos can attest to that claim.
    • Cons:
      1. Maintenance level: High. No litter boxes here. Dogs need to be taken out for walks and bathroom breaks consistently. If you go on vacation, your pup will have to be boarded or dog-sat.
      2. Cost: High. Between dog food, vet visits, boarding/dog-sitting and other miscellaneous fees, dogs are not for the totally broke college student. They’re adorable, but they’re gonna cost you.

Students – do you have a pet? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your specific pet?  Most importantly – what is its name?!


[Image courtesy of Flickr user Tobyotter. Licensed under CC BY 2.0]