What is the Greatest Pet for College Students?

My Opinion on the Ideal Companion

New year, new pet? Many families choose to adopt a new member of the family around the holidays thinking they make great gifts. Although fun and exhilarating at first, pets can grow tiresome and demanding after the ‘honeymoon’ period because they require a lot of time and care. But, owning a pet can also leave a person with a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and companionship, being a rewarding experience. Without further ado, let’s delve into the pros and cons of the most popular pets. 


A man’s best friend to some, but a man’s worst enemy to others. Having someone constantly by your side with unwavering loyalty and affection sounds great, but this implies huge responsibilities. You are required to be their constant caretaker, including poop duty, walks, regular vet visits, and other grooming expenses. Not to mention the replacement of the chewed-up shoe or torn furniture. But we have to give points to a dog’s history; the first domesticated animal some thousands of years ago, they assisted us in steps to civilization. No doubt they’ve been there for us. Conversely, there have been more dog-related injuries and deaths than any other pet. A dog is a risk, an expense, and a burden, yet there’s something about their faithful character that we can’t deny adoring. 8.5/10


Alfred the tabby clawing at some daises. Photo Credit | Ruth Justin

The dog’s rival. Years of conflict between the species result in no clear winner. Although they still require time and dedication, cats are very low-maintenance as they are almost entirely self-sufficient as long as their basic needs are met. But in contrast, they aren’t as engaging as dogs. If you’re looking for exercise, a cat probably isn’t your best bet. Some people argue that cats can be standoffish and altogether rude, however, don’t overlook their best qualities. The thing about cats is that they need to formulate a bond before they can trust you, too many people overwhelm them by running up to them when they first meet thus crowding the cat and causing them to hiss, growl, or bite. But give them time and they can be some of the cuddliest and most loving creatures you’ll ever meet. Overall, 9/10.


Admittedly, fish are more of a decoration than they are a pet. So much so that people neglect them and forget they need care just like any other animal. Fish are very chill and lowkey pets; they will never soil your carpets, bite your kid, or keep you up at night. Make sure their tank is clean and their food plentiful and you can have a great pet. Bonus points to them for being the only non-certified pet allowed on the NDSU campus. I won’t lie, there are some drawbacks to owning fish. They can be quite boring and uneventful at times, they have a short lifespan, and some species are wrongfully captured and kept. 7/10


Now, who could say no to those adorable faces? These creatures are the epitome of soft and cuddly. Despite this, the bunny has many negatives when it comes to being a pet. Firstly, many end up being neglected because they are given an Easter present and forgotten about shortly after. They also receive poor nutrition because people buy into the carrot propaganda. In addition, extra needed supplies can get costly. Ultimately, the media has swayed the bunny caretaking world into an unsafe one. 5/10


If you thought dogs could be a nuisance, birds are on a whole other level. They won’t hesitate to keep you up all night with their squawking and trilling. Admittedly, they can be very pretty to look at, and teaching them tricks is rewarding, but I find it a tad cruel to keep a flying animal in a cage for its whole life. Depending on their environment, birds can become stressed and pluck their feathers out or defecate excessively. They’re sensitive, so maybe it works for a single person but not for a family with children. 3/10


Geckos, chameleons, salamanders- all our reptilian friends can be unique pets to have. Albeit cold-blooded and a bit scary looking, the scaly creatures mean well and can provide great companionship. They can be a great addition to the classroom for kids to learn about their habitat and characteristics. Plus, these pets are easy to manage as they are tolerant of changes in their environment, require little space, and are easy to feed. However, you do have to feed them crickets which may make some a bit queasy. 6.5/10


Some hundreds of years ago, horses were a great asset as they provided transportation in pre-automobile times. Nowadays, horses need lots of time and space to thrive properly. They can be a fun hobby if you choose to engage them in dressage, horseback riding, or derbies. But unless you live on a farm, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to properly care for one. Fun fact, horses physically can’t throw up so make sure you don’t overfeed them or they are at risk of health complications or even death. 4/10


Similarly to lizards, snakes can be a bit gruesome. Our brains are even hardwired to look out for snakes, spiders, and other ‘dangers’ as an evolutionary trait from our ancestors. But despite this, they’re some pretty chill dudes. As long as you don’t invite a black mamba or otherwise venomous creature into your home, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with their company. In the end, they do require mice or other live creatures as food which can make some squeamish but they don’t need any grooming and little supervision. They can be the next level to a lizard owner looking for a unique pet. 5.5/10

Final Thoughts

The right pet depends on your specific situation. If you live on campus or are busy all the time, a fish is your best bet. If you have children and want to teach them responsibility in a fun way, a small manageable pet such as a gecko, hamster, or bunny would suffice. Cats and dogs are obvious choices that can fit into a multitude of homes, while horses only work in a farm setting. Finally, you have to be a special type of person to own a bird. But if you ask me, cats take the cake in terms of balancing companionship and responsibility. 

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