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How to Handle Your Roommate’s Pet

It’s cute and cuddly. . .most of the time. And then there are times when it’s anything but. So, what do you do when your roommate brings home a housemate of the animal variety? The key is communication, not confrontation.

Define Your Role

Depending on the type of pet your roommate has, you may or may not want to have a role in its care. It can be a lot of fun to act as a “co-parent,” taking your roomie’s rescue dog with you on your morning run or snuggling with it when your roommate has to stay late at work. You can enjoy many of the benefits of having a pet (think: wagging tails and unconditional love!) without a lot of the responsibility like buying pet food and grooming it. Whether you want to be involved with the pet or prefer to remain completely hands off, be sure to establish your role to prevent any potential misunderstandings.

Set Cleanliness Expectations

Is it OK if the cat’s litter box is in the kitchen? Who cleans the bathtub in your pet-friendly apartment when it gets clogged with dog hair? How often does the hamster cage need to be emptied to keep the smell at bay? Animals of all sizes come with issues related to cleanliness. Discuss your expectations with your roommate. Otherwise, you just might get an unwanted surprise when you step out onto your patio.

Cleanliness goes both ways—make sure you are attentive of a few things yourself. For instance, puppies love shoes. Don’t leave your favorite pair of Prada loafers lying around tempting a Fido. Or, if you don’t want Snowball to leave her long, white hair all over the chocolate-colored, chunky-knit throw you just bough for your bedroom, be sure to shut your door on the way out.

Does your roommate have a pet? How do you share the responsibilities? We want to hear from you in the comments below!