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Tips For Having Pets With Roommates

August 1 2023

The number of adults with roommates has been climbing steadily since the 90’s. There’s almost no end to the possible causes of tension between roommates. However, we’re going to focus on the one in our wheelhouse: pets. A Champaign, IL vet offers some tips on this below.

Try To Choose A Pet Lover

If possible, pick an animal lover. Someone who has grown up with cats and has had kitties of their own may not bat an eye if Fluffy pounces on their shoe or sleeps on their bed. However, someone who isn’t familiar with cats may be a bit affronted by this.

Set Basic Ground Rules

Lay down some simple but key rules. First and foremost: ask roommates never to feed, tease, or discipline your furry friend unless you give specific permission. That applies to their guests as well.

Safety First

Pets are curious and playful. This is cute, but it can unfortunately backfire: it’s very easy for pets to get into trouble by eating or playing with unsafe things. Have a discussion about safety and petproofing. Ask roommates not to buy toxic plants, and to be careful about leaving small or sharp objects out. Other potential hazards include chemicals, medication, plastic bags, and wires or cords.


Your actions and behavior will play huge roles in how things go. One likely (and reasonable) source of annoyance for non-pet owners? Finding fur everywhere. Go the extra mile with dusting and vacuuming regularly. Also, keep Fluffy’s litterbox clean.

Clear It First

Before finalizing agreements, make sure that your furry buddy is allowed and welcome. If that means paying a bit extra for pet rent, offer to pay the difference.

Don’t Expect Help

Hopefully, all will go well, and your roommate will be more than happy to help out with pet care on occasion. Just don’t assume that you have a live-in petsitter. If and when your roommate helps out, be sure to return the favor. 

Monitor Things

Pay attention to how your furry best friend and your roomie interact. If Fluffy leaves your lap to curl up on your roomie’s, things are probably going well. If she hisses and runs whenever she sees them … take it as a sign to move on.

Our Advice on Tips For Having Pets With Roommates in 2024

What basic ground rules should be established regarding pets in a shared living space?

In a shared living space, establishing fundamental guidelines for pets is essential. These include agreements on not feeding, teasing or disciplining the pet without explicit permission. It’s also critical to agree on maintaining safety by pet-proofing the environment, avoiding toxic plants, and securing small objects or harmful substances. Regular cleaning to manage pet fur and maintaining a clean litterbox are crucial. These rules promote a harmonious living situation for both the pet and roommates, ensuring a positive experience for all involved. Our vet clinic in Germantown, MD, advises on harmonious pet cohabitation strategies.

How can roommates ensure the safety of pets in the household?

Roommates can safeguard pets in the household by engaging in thorough discussions about pet-proofing practices. This includes securing toxic plants, ensuring small or sharp objects are out of reach, and safely storing chemicals and medications. Additionally, it’s important to keep plastic bags, wires, and cords inaccessible to prevent chewing or entanglement. Implementing these measures creates a secure environment for pets, minimizing the risk of accidents or ingestion of harmful items. Our veterinary clinic emphasizes the importance of a safe living space for pets’ well-being.

Should pet owners expect roommates to help with pet care?

Pet owners should not automatically anticipate that roommates will assist with pet care responsibilities. While it’s possible that roommates may offer support voluntarily, the primary responsibility for the pet’s welfare rests with the owner. Clear communication about expectations and boundaries regarding pet care is crucial. If a roommate agrees to help, this should be seen as a generous gesture, not an obligation, and appreciation should be shown. In Maryland, fostering a respectful and understanding living situation is critical to ensuring both pets and people coexist happily.

How can monitoring your pet’s behavior provide insights into their relationship with your roommate?

Monitoring your pet’s behavior is a valuable way to gauge their comfort and relationship with your roommate. Positive signs, such as seeking out the roommate for affection or play, indicate a good bond. Conversely, signs of distress, avoidance, or aggression could suggest discomfort or fear. Observing these interactions allows you to address any issues early, ensuring a harmonious household. In Gaithersburg, MD, our clinic advises pet owners to be attentive to these cues to maintain a peaceful and safe environment for everyone involved.

What steps should be taken if a pet does not seem comfortable around a roommate?

If a pet appears uncomfortable around a roommate, it’s essential to first identify any specific triggers causing distress. Gradual, supervised interactions can help build trust, along with providing positive reinforcement like treats or praise. Ensuring the pet has a safe, personal space to retreat to is crucial. Communication with the roommate about respecting the pet’s boundaries and possibly adjusting behaviors or routines might also be necessary. Consulting a veterinarian or a pet behaviorist for tailored advice is a proactive step to address and improve the situation.

Please contact us, your Champaign, IL pet clinic, with any questions about your pet’s health or care. We’re here to help!

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