Animals can be adorable and amusing. Pets may be precious, but owning a domesticated animal is usually a lifetime commitment – at least for the life of the animal. What if you’re not in a position to take that step?

Pet care is expensive and may be cost-prohibitive at this point. A family member may be allergic to most animals. Maybe your schedule will not allow you to set aside the time you would need to care for a pet in your own home.

If you love creatures, but are not ready to take on the long-term responsibility of adding a pet to your family, what can you do?

Here are 10 ways to spend time with creatures without signing up for a permanent pet relationship.

1. Visit the zoo.

Does your city have a public zoo? How about an aquarium or wildlife preserve? Many such facilities offer opportunities for first-hand animal interactions.

2. Go to a petting farm.

Take a drive into the country, and find a farm that invites visitors. Pat a bunny, feed a goat, and stroke a pony’s mane. Who knows? You might even find a mother cat with baby kittens to nuzzle.

3. Stop in at a dog park.

Local dog exercise areas are great spots for enjoying sunny hours, particularly if you like watching pets frolic outdoors. Just watch your step, and ask owners before reaching out to pat their dogs.

Parks can also be ideal locations for bird-watching. Grab your binoculars before you head outdoors.

4. Play virtual pet games online.

Internet gaming sites abound. Those little computerized cyber animals may have seemed like kooky gadgets in their time. Now, even Facebook boasts pet play for humans. FarmVille, Happy Pets, Pet Society, Safari Kingdom, and ZooTopia are prime examples of applications that encourage users to practice caring for animals. Even the most pet-allergic individuals can role-play pet ownership by playing along.

5. Rent a pet.

Yes, it really is possible in some cities of the world to rent domesticated animals. This may sound like a crazy concept, but folks do test the proverbial waters of pet ownership by participating in this practice. Pet rentals have lost popularity in recent years, although this option may be available in certain locations.

6. Be a pet sitter.

Like valued babysitters, caring pet sitters can be of considerable value in many neighbourhoods. If you have the time and inclination to care for others’ creatures, visiting pet care can offer a great way to satisfy your own hankering for animal interactions.

Feeding, watering and exercising pets for friends, family members, or even a growing number of animal-friendly clients can also be a super means of generating extra income.

7. Volunteer in an animal shelter.

Pet rescue, animal adoption and shelter facilities frequently call for extra assistance. Non-profit animal welfare organizations almost always welcome enthusiastic volunteers to help with administrative and pet care tasks.

8. Work as a dog walker.

Daily dog walking is an increasingly popular form of freelancing for fitness-minded animal lovers. Are you a power walker? Why not stroll with a leashed dog or two? You might even make a few bucks while exercising the hounds.

9. Apply for a job at a veterinary clinic or pet practice.

If you really love animals, perhaps a career in pet care is for you. Veterinary medical practices are staffed with licensed animal doctors, but they also hire veterinary technicians, cleaning crews, office help, and more.

Additional pet-related careers include jobs in pet grooming, pet supply centres, and pet stores.

10. Sign up to be a pet foster home.

Here’s the acid test for those who may be considering acquiring pets. Pet rescue and adoption organizations perennially seek individuals and families who are willing to offer foster homes to animals awaiting permanent placements.

With a little creature-aimed creativity, animal lovers can find ways to connect with cats, dogs, birds, and other pets without committing to actual ownership.