There are supportive articles on ‘Care Topics’. There is very little about the down side.
When parents can no longer keep the pets fed and clean, when parents want to move in with caregivers and bring their pets, or when they are faced with a move to a facility that doesn’t take pets, the down side is very hard to cope with. Cat litters average four to six kittens, with a new litter four times a year. Cats and dogs can cost hundreds of dollars to desex and vaccinate. Parents can build up to a dozen pets, particularly cats, and floors can even need total replacement if they are impregnated with cat urine. Accidents and illnesses can run into even more hundreds of dollars, which may not be there in the budget – vetinary costs are not government-subsidised.
The usual comment is to ‘re-home’ the pets. Great if you can do it, but the numbers involved make it very difficult, particularly for cats. The next comment is to find a ‘no-kill shelter’. Some quick searching makes it clear that no-kill shelters do their best to ‘re-home’, but have long waiting lists and can still rate as no-kill with a 10% kill rate. The waiting lists mean that if you are desperate, ‘no-kill’ is a nice idea but not a realistic option. A cat or an unwanted litter of kittens used to be put in a pillow case and drowned in a bucket. A quick death and not so cruel, but not at all acceptable to many posters.
Some posters say that a pet is a commitment for life. If a pet will help a 70 year old, is this reasonable? Should we stop our elderly parents from taking on a pet that they are unlikely to outlive themselves? Is the ethical commitment to a pet the same as the commitment to a child?
I would really welcome some discussion on this topic, which bothers me a lot.