Kittens are so cute, aren’t they?
Put a bow around their neck and they make the purr-fect gift, right?
Puppies, too; tails wagging so hard they almost fall over.
Then there’s the cute Easter Bunny, hopping around. The look of surprised happiness on the little kids when a real, live bunny hops out on Easter!
Stop right there.
Kittens– like puppies, bunnies, hamsters, fish, etc– are NOT gifts. Each year thousands of unwanted kitties, pups, bunnies, etc, are abandoned, abused, killed, and put to sleep. The numbers jump after holidays like Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas. Why? The same reason the return lines are so long at the Target, Wal-Mart, etc: buyer’s (or, receiver’s) remorse.
First, you cannot choose an animal for someone else. An ASPCA gift certificate is much better, as it gives the choice to the human to choose their companion animal. Many local shelters have something similar, or would be willing to work with you so that when you bring in the person receiving the cat or dog, they can leave with most of the paperwork already done. (Good shelters will want to talk to the actual person who will be taking care of the animal to make sure they have a good home and can handle the responsibilities and cost of having a pet.)
Second, you need to take certain things into account depending on the animal. And this is not something you can do for someone else. Say your adorable little niece wants a guinea pig. So you take her to the big pet store, buy the cage, some food, bedding, and the cutest guinea pig ever! You bring it all home and wonder why your sibling is angry.
Well, even though your niece said she’d feed it and clean the cage, guess who is going to wind up doing the cleaning, feeding, and eventually playing with the guinea pig once your niece loses interest? (Guinea pigs are very social. Like a human baby, they can actually die from lack of interaction.) Then there’s the cost of bedding, proper food, etc; and did your adorable little niece even have permission to get a pet?
To reiterate: if someone you know wants a pet, make sure that person gets to choose (and if they are not adults, make sure the parent / legal guardian is there and has given permission). Otherwise, the pet might wind up in a shelter. Which isn’t fair to anyone involved.