I Regret Getting Pets

Sometimes you have an epiphany – an instantaneous realization of exactly what you want, or maybe of what went wrong. But sometimes it’s not instantaneous.  Sometimes it’s a slow dawning realization that takes weeks or months to come to terms with. That’s how the realization that I regret getting pets came to me. 

I Love My Pets

Ok, before the brigade of pet lovers starts crucifying me– hear me out. I have four cats and two dogs, and I love the little buggers. I would never dump them at an animal shelter or give them less than the care that they deserve. Since I adopted them, they are a part of the family. They are my responsibility, and I will do my best to make sure each and every one of them has the longest, most comfortable life possible. I mean seriously, I spent over four thousand dollars this year on vet bills for one of my cats!


So now that I got that disclaimer out of the way, let me talk about why I regret getting pets. Maybe it will help someone just starting out in life decide to wait on pet ownership, and maybe it will help others realize that adopting a dog or cat is in fact the right choice for them. Either way – you should definitely read this before getting that new puppy or kitten!

Why Do I Regret Getting Pets?

As much as I love them, I can’t help but think about how much different my life would be if I didn’t have them. I could have taken that job in California, or found a place to rent in Savannah and Pennsylvania rather than buying a home. I could quit my job on a whim and travel the world, or even do something as simple as take a spontaneous vacation. Unfortunately, none of these things are feasible with the pets that I have.

I Regret Getting a Dog

I think the dogs are a bigger regret than the cats. Cats are easy – I was able to take weekend trips whenever I wanted when I just had them. But that’s just not possible with the dogs. You absolutely can’t leave them alone and go on an overnight trip, much less an entire weekend get-away. I mean sure, you could be a terrible pet owner and leave the dog chained up outside for its entire life and not worry about such things, but that’s just not my style. I consider all my pets to be members of the family, and I would never subject them to that type of treatment.

Instead, I have to hire a pet-sitter if I want to get away. I generally use Rover to find someone who loves dogs and will take care of my babies the way I would. I pay a ton of money to have someone take care of my little guys, so if you love animals, it might be a great side hustle for you. 


But I digress. Outside of the inability to travel (which cats limit as well), there are three main reasons that I regret owning a dog more than my cats, and those are the expense, the lack of mobility, and all the time and energy that dog ownership requires. 

Dogs are Expensive

Dogs are also crazy expensive. I mean, sure, they aren’t nearly as expensive as a horse, but still, it adds up. Their food costs thirty bucks every two weeks, and I’m constantly paying vet bills. One had an ear infection, then another had a weird skin rash. You have to take them to the veterinarian at the first sign of a problem to make sure it’s not serious, and to give them the care that they need.  I have them on a wellness plan, so I’m paying a hundred bucks a month just for that. 

All the other things that dogs need cost money as well. I pay for their flea and tick prevention, which is a monthly pill that helps prevents the parasites. I also want to make sure they have enough chew toys and bones available so that they don’t destroy my stuff (Coyote ate my couch when he was a puppy – on the first day I had it!). It’s important to keep energetic breeds active, or they will do stuff like that. 

Lack of Mobility

But the biggest issues with having the dogs is the limitations on housing. Do you have any idea how many landlords refuse to rent to someone with a dog over fifty pounds? If you guessed most of them, you’d be right. I regret getting my dogs because having them has seriously limited my mobility. I can’t look for better opportunities elsewhere because moving is prohibitively expensive. I’d have to sell a house and then buy a new house. Both of those things cost tons of money unless you can get lucky and sell in a massive real estate upswing.

A few months ago, I got the most amazing job offer of my life. It was for nearly 120K per year, and it was back in Long Beach, CA. As you all know, I turned the job down. My official reason is that moving back California won’t help me on the path to financial freedom, and while that’s technically true, it’s only true because I have so many pets.

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The real reason I turned the job down is because of all of my pets. Moving back to California with them would be incredibly expensive. Finding a home where we could all live in the area would cost me more than the raise every year – in fact I doubt I’d be able to afford it at all.

The thing is, if I didn’t have them, I would have taken the job. I could have easily found a one-bedroom apartment or roommate situation for around 1000 a month in the area (ok-maybe not easily, but those options do exist). After my housing costs, I’d still be taking home over 100K a year. That would be totally worth it for a few years, and it would actually help me on my journey to financial independence. 

Time and Energy

The last reason why I regret my dogs more than my cats is that they take up so much time and energy. And honestly, I don’t have enough of it for them. I’d love to take them to the dog park (if we had one nearby) or hire a dog walker (if I had the extra income) but I can’t do those things. 

Although they are incredibly well behaved, Coyote is also a high-energy breed and thus very playful. He wants to go with us everywhere, he wants to play all the time, and when he was a puppy, he destroyed stuff if he didn’t have a positive outlet for his energy. 


I feel awful that I can’t provide him with all the time and attention that he needs, but I do my best. He’s a rescue dog, I actually found him abandoned in the California desert- and I think that having a loving home where he’s cared for even if he doesn’t get all of the attention he would like was a much better option than sending him to a shelter. Coyote is a really good dog who gets along well with all the cats and everyone else with who he comes in contact. 

And there’s also all the poop. I’d much rather clean a little box every day then have to carry little baggies of dog poop with me on walks or clean up dog poop from my yard every day. That part about dog ownership really sucks.

I Regret Getting a Cat

Truthfully, I don’t regret my cats as much as I regret my dogs. They are much easier to take care of. When I was just a crazy cat lady, I could take weekend trips and not have to worry about whether they’d destroy the house when I was gone. Sure, they’d get mad and throw a few things off the counter. But overall, they can take care of themselves for a few days.

However, I do regret getting four cats. Even I acknowledge that’s a bit much. If I just had two cats like a normal person, I’d be able to do most of the things that I want to do. I could have found a cheap one-bedroom rental in California that accepts cats. I could move them cross-country without having to stop every two hours (ok, to be fair, most of that is for me).

But still, even with just one cat, my dreams of traveling the world would have to be put on hold. Cats don’t travel well, and there are tons of rules and restrictions to bringing domestic animals across international borders. And with four cats, it’s basically a pipe dream.

What Should You Do if You Regret Getting Pets?

My first instinct is to tell you to suck it up and take care of the pet. It’s part of your family. But I know that’s not realistic or appropriate for everyone. If you have pet and can no longer offer it the care that it deserves, it’s perfectly acceptable to re-home it.

However, you should do your research before re-homing a pet. Make sure you are giving your pet away to good owners, where it will be happy, healthy, and well taken care of. Here are some great tips for re-homing if that’s what you need to do.

Please avoid dropping your pet off at a shelter. Most of them are so overrun with homeless animals that most only get a few days to get adopted -and get euthanized if they don’t.  If you can’t find a good new home, at least find a no kill shelter


What Am I Going to Do?

As I said above, I’m going to continue living my life and taking care of my six babies to the best of my ability. I’m more than capable of taking care of them, and they do enhance my life in many immeasurable ways. I’m sacrificing my freedom for them, and I’m more than okay with that choice. 

I didn’t write this because I’m going to give them up or change anything that I’m doing. It’s more of a cathartic post. I’m writing it to acknowledge my feelings. Hopefully this will show others who may be in the same situation know that they aren’t alone. People don’t talk about these types of regrets and the ways that having pets can hold them back, but I think it’s important to have these conversations. It can prevent people from getting pets who probably shouldn’t have them. In addition,  it can give others a realistic idea of what to expect if they choose to adopt. 

So, if you regret getting pets, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t make you a bad person.  In fact, it’s best to acknowledge the feelings you are having so you can decide what the best way to move forward is, for both you and them.

16 thoughts on “I Regret Getting Pets”

  1. It’s refreshing to see someone honestly address the drawbacks of having pets, particularly indoor house pets. We have a couple of stray outdoor adopted animals, a cat and a dog. They don’t come inside but have freedom to roam the 800 acres of wooded wetlands around our house. All we have to do when we travel is to pay someone to put food in their bowls once a day. But even at that we don’t intend to replace them when they pass. We prefer the company of each other and of our friends to that of pets.

    • Yes, indoor house pets do have tons of drawbacks, and thank you for your appreciation of this post. It would be nice if I only had to pay someone to fill a food bowl when I traveled! I do enjoy the company of my pets (there’s nothing quite like that low rumble in your lap when you are reading a book) but I don’t intend to get another one after these guys pass for quite some time. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. I regretted getting a dog. I loved her to death but she was a lot of work. Luckily my ex-husband took care of her (and then took her in the divorce). But she was just too much for me. I realized that I’m much happier s oolong the litter box every few days than having to go outside every time the dog needs to per. And worrying about paying attention to the signs that the dog needs to owe. And yes even overnight stays wouldn’t be feasible with a dog without much preparation.

    I don’t regret the cat though she’s mildly insane. But I also have just the one. Even two cats is a lot of cat to me so I admire you for taking in 4.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I also regret the dogs more than the cats, because they are just so much more work. I don’t really think 2 or 3 cats is much more work than 1 though (admittedly 4 is pushing it!). The limitation in mobility is the same regardless of how many you have, which is why I won’t be getting any more for awhile after they pass on. I’m glad we both realized what our limitations and needs are with pets though, that part is important.

  3. All such valid reasons not to get pets! I generally caution people not to jump into getting a dog if they’ve never had a pet before – we knew people who made that mistake and seriously regretted it. They ended up having to rehome the puppy because they weren’t ready for the intense adjustment and training needed.

    Even though the short period that we didn’t have dogs was the saddest period of my life, it was also a lot of freedom. No one to walk, feed, bathe, shop for, clip nails of, worry about veterinary issues for … it feels like an endless list when you’ve got more than one!

    Regretting a decision about getting pets thankfully doesn’t mean you won’t love them or you’re going to act like a jerk and abandon them. It hopefully means that you’ll think twice the next time you start to fall for those EYES. I’m so weak when it comes to seeing pictures of dogs that need homes. I’ve adopted 6 dogs in my lifetime, and the last one is the only one I’ve ever regretted. We still take good care of her and train her and the whole shebang BUT I realized that we may not have been the best fit for her between our stage in life and her needs. I’ve never felt this before and felt terrible about it but I’ve made my peace with it and we’ll do our best by her.

    • Exactly! I’m going to keep all my babies and give them the best life I possibly can. But I know that getting a new pet after they pass is not the answer. That will be my time for traveling, taking risks, and being mobile. The important thing is to do the best you can by them, like we both are. They are living creatures and they deserve at least that. Thank you so much for the comment and the support.

  4. This was tough to read, but I have to agree. Grew up with pets, have had as many as three, and married a veterinarian. It led us to buy when we should have rented and now we rent in a less than ideal spot. We’re down to a 12yr old mostly deaf beagle mix that will howl when he’s in a strange place. We are paying $2300 for a single family house in the suburbs and driving too much when we should be in a $1400/mo townhouse in an area of town we’d rather be in.

    The hidden costs are real. We’ll probably go petless for a few years after our buddy passes

    • Yep, that’s exactly where I’m at. I’m glad that there are people who relate. I’ll be going petless for awhile after they pass as well. Thanks for your story and commiserating!

  5. I have similar thoughts at times, but I love having my dog. She is truly the best part of every day. Of course, she does limit things at times for me, but she’s also opened a whole new world for me. Pets are definitely not cheap and one should thoroughly consider the reality of owning a pet before choosing to adopt one.

    • Yeah, thats my biggest point in writing this. Everyone sees the fun side all the time, but we don’t often talk about any negatives. I think the housing part is the biggest set back for me, I didn’t consider how limited my mobility would be with pets.

      • Finally someone that gets it lol. I have four cats and an 80lb dog. I love them all but sometimes I feel regret. Recently had 2 friends visit and stay the night and I almost felt embarrassed with the amount of animals I have. Cats kept them up all night too by stepping on them. Again, I love all my animals but at 19 I do wish I had taken the time to think and not act. In the end all my animals get along, I just have to keep on top of the hair and feed them. My dog really is like having a baby though haha because you can’t leave them alone for long periods of time. I get anxious but I remind myself when I finally get a house there will be so much room and my kids will start life with so many loveable pets. Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. I was given a cat 1 year after graduating university. While she was a lovely cat, I wish I could have travelled more during those single years before husband and kids.

    And pets are expensive. Very expensive! Vet visits, medications, boarding if you’re away, vaccines, not to mention food and everything else from the pet store.

    • so so expensive! My cat cost me over four thousand dollars with just one accident! I love the little buggers, but after they pass I won’t be getting more for a long time.

  7. I needed to read this a week ago….I was wanting a dog so badly because I’ve been depressed during the pandemic. I just adopted a rescue dog a couple days ago and I am panicking. I don’t know if I can handle the cost, the training, etc. I used to have a dog but I forgot what it was like when he was new. I hope my panic is short-term and I will come to love having a dog again.

  8. I know this is over a year later but I was relieved to find this article. I adopted a cat in late 2020, not at all on impulse as it was something that I researched thoroughly before taking the plunge. What I did not anticipate was adopting a cat that would have physical and mental health issues in my first 6 months of having her. I struggle with anxiety myself so it’s been very stressful to troubleshoot what seems like persistent health problems, and to see the tufts of hair around my apartment from her compulsive fur pulling. This is my first cat and I feel like a bad cat owner for having all of these issues. I’m thankful she’s a senior so this won’t be a 10+ year commitment. This experience, thus far, is bringing me to the conclusion that I will not be a cat (or dog) owner again. The headache and stress of her neediness has been a lot, even if at times my cat can be rewarding.

    • Thank you for your comment. This is the reason I wrote this post. Pets aren’t for everyone, and they require a ton of time and effort. I wish people would stop pushing the “just get a pet” thing. And you’re right, even with all the research, you never know what you are going to get. You’re not a bad owner for not always being able to help her with her problems. You’re giving her a loving home at the end of her life, and that’s something to be proud of.

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