My dad lives by himself 6 hours from us. So I am thinking about getting him a pet to keep him company. He has never owned a pet before but we have taken care of pets for short periods of time for friends and neighbors. Cats, rabbits and once a turtle. He has a house with plenty of room, close to parks and walking trails. First question is: should I get him a cat or a dog? Reasons for - Dad loves cats and it's easier to care for and cleaner. Reasons for - More affectionate and that's the main reason I am getting a pet for him. A few more questions: What is the best way to make sure the pet I am getting is healthy? I heard different opinions regarding shelters. Yes or no? What kind of pet insurance should I be looking at? A friend says it's a scam and another one says it's absolutely necessary. Any opinions? I plan to get the pet spayed or neutered and give all the recommended shots. Any thing specific I need to know regarding these procedures? Anything else I need to consider? TIA! ETA, I have talked to dad and he is open to getting a pet. Just doesn't know where to start.