Starter Pets: Q&A


It might sound like a strange concept, but starter pets can be a great way of introducing animal care into your home.

What Is A “Starter” Pet?

Not meant in any way to be derogatory, a starter pet should be considered the kind of pet that has all the benefits of pet ownership – but doesn’t take as much time, effort, or expense, to care for.

Everyone loves dogs and cats; a huge number of homes tend to have at least one of these animals. However, there’s no doubt that they take a lot of energy and a lot of money to care for. It’s also a huge time investment, with dogs – on average – living for at least 10 years, and cats potentially double that with the right care.

A starter pet is meant to be a way of learning about caring, how to schedule your time for doing so, and adapting your lifestyle to suit.

Which Animals Make Good Starter Pets?

It could be said that any animal that isn’t a cat or a dog makes for a good entry point into pet ownership. However, there are a couple that are often overlooked to consider –


You don’t need a huge amount of space for a chicken; a medium size back garden will usually be sufficient, if you have room for a chicken house and a decent run. Not only are chickens fun fowl to care for, they can also be a source of eggs. If you buy a rooster, you could even end up with fertile eggs, which you can nurture with the help of incubators like those found on This is incredibly rewarding, as you’re there from the moment they break through the shell and look into the world for the first time!


Hamsters and rats are the classic pets for kids. These mischievous little creatures can be a lot of fun and the costs of sustaining them are fairly cheap. You’ll need a good size cage and a good food source, as well as a few toys – has some great ideas for engaging little hamster brains.

Do They Really Prepare You For Larger Pet Ownership?

Oh yes. To begin with, you get into the habit of considering another creature. You establish feeding routines, caring for them, and ensuring they are comfortable. If you’ve never had a pet before (or it’s been awhile), then these are habits that you will need to pick up.

Cats and dogs don’t deal well with being left alone. They are prone to separation anxiety, which can mean you have to completely alter your schedule for them. This isn’t true of starter pets; you might need to make small adjustments, but it won’t be the wholesale changes that cats and dogs require. If you struggle to make these adjustments, that’s a good sign that you aren’t ready for the commitment of large pet ownership.

Which, of course, is fine. There’s plenty of fun, enjoyment, and love to enjoy with smaller starter pets – so why not make the leap into a whole new world of pet parenthood?

Eickemeyer, the way that (vet) festivals should be… – Vet Festival 2017

Eickemeyer Christoph Vet Festival 2017 Genius

On Friday night at Vet Festival 2017 the name shouted out by the DJ was that of an exhibitor, and they were not being paid to do this. For you see when I arrived to Vet Festival on Friday morning I was simply walking in looking for my first lecture when Christoph shouted my name and offered me a beer and pretzel.

I am hardly one to turn down beer even this early in the morning, the fact it is coming from one my favourite companies (Eickemeyer actually sent me a birthday present one year!!!), and is accompanied with a smile is winning combination. I was not sure I believed it at first as I was at a veterinary conference however it is Vet Festival.

You see Vet Festival is something different, you put lectures and an exhibition in tents in a field, yet it seems that people like me forget all about the second word. I know that in Germany the minute festival is mentioned it is Oktoberfest that springs to people’s mind – I actually managed to get an evening at Volksfest whilst there learning some dolphin medicine.

This word however was at the front of Christoph’s mind when he decided that it was going be about the festival. And so Eickemeyer arrived with 300 litres of German beer – HIRSCH HEFE WEISSE which had won gold at the European Beer Star Competition (also I heard rumours it was from Christoph’s home town) – and boxes of pretzels. It wouldn’t be a festival without the proper dress and hats were included as well.

The only thing lacking was anything related to the word vet until Friday morning when the beer started to flow. I’ve never seen such a stand so busy all day before, not only that but the queue gave the amazing opportunity to network and make new friends as well. If you asked anyone about their best exhibitor from Vet Festival 2017 it would be Eickemeyer – the company that didn’t bring a single thing to try to sell you.

Amazingly the concert on Friday eve though shorter was one of my best, it usually takes a lot for me to relax and stop thinking properly. I made many new friends, caught up with old friends, and danced as long as the music played.

I saw Christoph as he was driving away from vet festival on the Friday night, all packed up to go home as there was nothing left for the Saturday. Definitely one of the best marketing ideas I have ever seen in veterinary medicine, from one of the best companies I have met.

Cats are not small dogs – Vet Festival 2017

Noel Fitzpatrick at Vet Festival 2017

Sometimes I take for granted how much we now know, and this morning when someone said that when they were learning they were told that if you get cat bones in the same room then fractures will heal I was surprised. This was even more shocking as these words came from Prof Noel Fitzpatrick.

The dog has always been the top priority when it comes to vets, then cats became more popular as more has become known, and now the same thing is happening with the development of rabbit medicine. However this is about cats so back on track…

So Noel gave a tour through the cat skeleton looking at different problems and the solutions including some new ideas of own creation. Also here there was indication that a discussion is needed about the problems involved about getting new ideas out to share them with the world.

Either fortunately or unfortunately depending on the way you look at it there are well established rules within medicine and surgery. A lot of them help keep patients safe, and help prevent surgeons getting into trouble however sometimes they may be relied on too much without an understanding of why they exist – on in fact questioning their very existence. What resonated with me here was Noel saying that rules are there for a reason; however you need to understand when to break them.

This is in reference to a specific rule when it comes to using external fixation (rods and pins outside the body) to put fractures back together again. There is a rule that you can only use safe corridors which avoid muscles and other tissues when placing your pins. This rule means that ideally there are limited places where you can use external fixation as these safe corridors not exist in other places. Noel has tried to publish without success a series of 250+ successful cases where he has used external fixation on the cats pelvis without any complications which breaks the safe corridor rule but shows when done correctly it is successful.

A more light hearted moment was when Noel was told that he could not use the acronym SPIDER for a technique he developed for fixing toe fractures if he wanted to be published. Sometimes the best part of inventing something new is being able to give it a name and so the challenge has now been set for the first person to publish something with a SPIDER acronym…