Responsible Pet Ownership


A pet cat, dog, or other pet is a wonderful addition to any family. In fact, having a pet has many benefits. At the same time, it also comes with an emotional and financial responsibility as well as a certain time investment.

Therefore, today, we would like to talk about the concept of responsible pet ownership. Plus, we put together some questions you can ask yourself to check if you and your family are ready for a pet.

Benefits of Having a Pet

A pet is a great addition to a family. As animal welfare advocates, we love all animals, and all our staff have their own pets. So, we understand the beauty of it! :)

In particular, we observe the following advantages that pets bring to families:

  • Petting cats, dogs, and other animals can lower your blood pressure and heart rate
  • A dog motivates you to get outside and be active
  • A cat also encourages playfulness
  • Children can learn taking on responsibility and compassion

That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? So, does having a pet mean, getting some daily snuggle time and that’s it? Or is there maybe more to having a pet?

What is Responsible Pet Ownership?

To us, welcoming a pet into your life basically is summed up by this saying: “To you, they may only be part of your life, but to them, you are their whole life!”

So, most importantly, if you adopt a pet, keep in mind that it will depend on you, and therefore is a lifelong commitment. This includes when you have to move for work or your family within the country or abroad (how to relocate with your pet).

In general, as cat, dog, or other pet guardians, you are responsible for loving it and treating it with kindness and care, including

  • protection from pain, sickness, and injury
  • enabling your pet to live his/her natural behavior through playing, exercise, and interaction
  • providing adequate companionship to meet your pet’s emotional and social/training needs though close daily interaction and relationship with humans
  • healthy diet suitable for the age and needs of your pet; e.g. food scraps like fish bones are dangerous for cats
  • suitable environment, e.g. comfortable and safe shelter, suitable toilet area (separate from eating and sleeping), toys and mental stimulation

So, what does that mean in practice?

  • adopt a pet rather than buy one from a pet store or breeder. Here are four reasons why not to buy from pet shops and cat/dog breeders.
  • spay/neuter your pet to avoid unwanted kittens/puppies and to keep your pet healthy. The common birth-control injection for pets in Cambodia is NOT SAFE.
  • provide core vaccinations to your pet including annual rabies vaccinations. Core vaccines for cats are against feline parvovirus (FPV), feline calicivirus (FCV), and feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1). Core vaccines for dogs are against canine distemper virus (CDV), canine adenovirus (CAV), and canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2). Additional vaccinations are available too.
  • take your pets to the vet at least 2 times per year for a health check-up (preventative care) to detect and treat possible health problems early on.
  • get dental care for your pet at least 1 time per year. Many dogs and cats suffer from dental issues. A teeth cleaning helps to keep them healthy and happy.
  • Regularly treat your pets against parasites (indoor and outdoor pets). Treatments against ticks, fleas, mites, and heartworm are commonly given monthly to avoid deadly diseases caused by parasite infestation. Some medications may last up to 3 months. Intestinal worms are usually treated every 3 months.

Keep in mind that your pet may come with or develop special needs, especially as it gets older. Just like humans, pets can get allergies and serious illnesses that require regular medication.

Can I Give a Pet What She/He Needs?

  • Am I willing to care for my pet for its entire lifespan and also when I relocate (planned, unplanned)? Domestic cats can live 15-20 years and domestic dogs can get 10-13 years old.
  • Do I have the money to take care of a pet? Cats need food and litter, depending on the brand/quality/amount you can calculate around $30 per month. Dog food comes to around $40-60 per month, depending on the size of the dog. Basic care for bi-annual health check-ups, anti-parasite treatments, and core vaccines/boosters can easily come up to around $250 per year. This does not include any potentially required treatments. Here is a list of local and international vet clinics, which we recommend in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Kampot/Sihanoukville.
  • Do I have the time to feed my cat/dog twice per day and play/snuggle with them? Do I have the time to take my dog for a walk 2-3 times per day (or bring him/her to the office), and play at least 20 minutes with my cat?
  • What happens when I go on vacation or travel for work? Can I appoint a designated friend or family member to take care of my pet while I’m on holiday?
  • Can I bring my dog to the office?
  • Do I or someone in my family household have allergies to cats, dogs, or other pets?
  • Is everyone in your household on board with getting the pet? If not, what are their concerns, and are those maybe valid?
  • What will my life in the next 5-10 years look like? Are we planning to add a baby to our family? If so, will we have enough time/space/resources to provide good care for our pet?
  • Who in my household will take on the responsibilities around the pet (feeding, walks, vet, cleaning up after the pet, etc.)?
  • Am I allowed to have pets where I live (house, apartment, condo)?
  • What do you hope to get out of the relationship? What personality trait are you looking for in the animal?

What Kind of Pet is Suitable for Me?

If you can positively answer these questions for yourself and your family/household, you may want to consider what kind of animal you want to adopt:

  • What’s your lifestyle and family situation? Are you very active or enjoy more peace and quiet? Do you have small children and/or already have other pets at home?
  • A kitten/puppy is suitable for people with more time and patience to care for and train a young animal.
  • Grown-up/elderly pets can be a great addition for quieter households.

Remember that pets are not gifts that entertain for a little while and are then abandoned. Rather, cats, dogs, and other pets are wonderful species and individuals, who can enrich your life long-term.

What’s next?

Do you have any questions? You can reach us at [email protected]

Find out more about adopting and fostering a cat/dog and meet our rescues. All these cats and dogs lived a tough life on the streets of Cambodia, suffering from pain and injuries. Through some luck, usually a kind rescuer, they came to our center, where we nurtured them back to health. Now they are looking for a second chance in a loving fur-ever home. Can this be you?