Yasmina Sahir, Opinions Columnist

Although jokes about millennial pet parents and their “fur babies” are common on social media, it’s true that animals are essentially children.

The college lifestyle typically includes unpredictable schedules, low-income budgets, and rotating living environments. Because they are financially and socially unestablished, college students can’t become successful pet parents without the possibility of harm to the animals they love.

All animals need a certain daily amount of attention and love, requiring the physical presence of their owners. Other costs and responsibilities associated with pet ownership include medical emergencies and special needs that college students aren’t always able to fit in their budgets last minute.

Recent studies have shown that college students are likely to dump their adopted animals in shelters or even abandon them outside when the financial and social responsibility becomes too much to handle.

Stray animals — specifically feral cats — are a known problem in Iowa City. The issue is not the animals themselves, but rather the unpredictable winter weather and heavy traffic that can endanger stray animals living in unsheltered areas.

College students add to this problem when they take in animals they later decide they cannot care for properly. This problem was especially noted during the height of COVID-19 when many people decided to adopt animals during pandemic lockdown.

Before adopting an animal, potential owners must look past the present to see if a pet fits into their lifestyle for the next 10 — sometimes 20 or more — years.

Because college students can’t guarantee attention, secure housing, or the financial ability to care for an animal, they shouldn’t adopt.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.