Can’t have a pet at home? 7 Places in Central Florida to Interact with Pets

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Visitors to The Kitty Beautiful cat cafe enjoy some cuddle time with an orange tabby cat (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

Whether you travel a lot, work long hours, or live in a building with a no pets policy, getting your dose of animal love when you don’t have a pet is a challenge. What’s a cat or dog lover to do? Try these perfect ideas for spending quality time with your favorite furry four-legged friends.

Get a day pass. Pet Rescue by Judy, a Sanford nonprofit, offers a “Dog 4 a Day” program, perfect for anyone looking to spend quality time with a dog, without the long-term commitment. This innovative program allows you to spend several hours with a rescue dog (available 10 am to 4 pm) and explore dog-friendly sites in the Orlando area, from breweries and restaurants with patio dining to local farmers markets and hiking trails with room to roam.

Volunteer at an animal shelter or pet rescue organization. This is a great way to spend time with the animals and do some good in the process. Most shelters and pet rescue centers rely on their volunteer force to help with tasks ranging from walking and grooming dogs to playing with and feeding cats. They are likely to accept any help you are willing to give. Reach out to organizations like the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, Lovey Loaves Special Needs Rescue & Sanctuary, and the exclusive Fallin’ Pines Critter Rescue in Christmas, which rescues exotic animals, farm animals, reptiles and birds.

Visit a local dog park. Visit one of the dog parks that dot the area and strike up a conversation with some of the pet owners. Many of them would welcome the opportunity to show off their dog and let you pat your canine companion on the head (“Who’s a good boy?!”). Try Arbor Dog Park (Longwood), Lake Baldwin Park (Winter Park), Barber Dog Park (Orlando), Hound Ground (Winter Springs), Paw Park (Sanford), and Park of the Americas (Orlando).

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(ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

Take care of the pets in your neighborhood. You may live in a rental that doesn’t allow pets, but you can still spend time with the animals that live nearby. Relieve busy pet owners in your neighborhood by offering to walk their dogs or feed their cats while they’re out of town.

Visit a cat cafe. Sip coffee, grab a cake and enjoy the feline scenery at Orlando Cat Cafe in Clermont, where a dozen cats roam free in their spacious play area. Or try The Kitty Beautiful in downtown Orlando, where you can savor locally sourced snacks, coffees, teas and kombucha, and even host a private celebration with their Cat Party packages. Reservations suggested at both cafes.

Adopt an animal. If you’re up for a short-term commitment, become a pet foster parent through one of Central Florida’s many animal shelters and pet rescue centers. It requires some training and the ability to give up your fur babies when they have found a forever home. But fostering provides a loving, temporary home for sweet critters who may have been abused or abandoned. Try Candy’s Cats (Apopka), Florida Little Dog Rescue (St. Cloud), Happy Trails Animal Rescue (Orlando), and Pug Rescue of Florida (Windermere).

Visit downtown Aloft Orlando. This hotel partners with the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando to provide on-site puppies that guests and visitors can relate to. You can just spend time with the dogs, play with them, or even take them for a walk.