Cats, dogs, kittens, and puppies. We can’t wait to bring these loveable fluffballs into our homes once we’ve decided to adopt. You’re probably buzzing with excitement. However, when your pet comes home for the first time, they might be a bit overwhelmed, scared, or angry.
Not knowing what to do or where to start is perfectly normal. Keep reading to learn about what you can do to prepare your family and home for your new furry friend!
Cat or dog? Making the right decision for your new pet
Yay! You’ve decided to add a pet to your family! But have you thought about how a cat or dog will affect your life? There’s the classic story about the child who begs their parents to get a dog and promises to take care of it. Then after about a month, the parents end up being the ones taking the dog for walks.
Ask yourself why you want a pet. Is it for companionship or to reduce stress? Is it for your kids? Do you have an active lifestyle, or are you looking for a pet who can help you get in shape?
Another important question to ask yourself is: how much time do you have? Puppies and dogs need a lot of training and attention. Conversely, cats are lower maintenance and can be left alone for longer periods.
What to consider before adopting a catYou’ve decided to adopt a cat or kitten! Exciting! The next step is deciding which cat to adopt. Different cats have different needs, and your lifestyle won’t work for all of them. For example, if you have young kids, you’re going to want an easygoing cat.
- Personality and temperament
- Your lifestyle
Do your research. Know that if you adopt an older cat, they are more likely to develop health issues. If you already have other pets, think about what type of personality your new cat will need to fit in.
Most pet shelters have little biographies for each cat that help people decide if their temperament is suited to their home.
What to consider before adopting a dogJust like cats, you need to decide which dog will be best for your family. They have needs that differ because of their size, energy levels, temperament, personality, and other factors.
- Time commitment for training
- Financial impacts
- Size of living space and access to the outdoors
- Other household pets
- Your lifestyle and activity level
When you consider the factors above (and more!), it will help you choose a dog that fits your family.
Preparing for your new pet
Once you’ve decided on a cat or a dog, the next thing you need to do is prepare before bringing them home!
- Make sure all family members are on board with a new pet. Set up rules and routines for the whole family.
- Have all pet supplies ready before bringing them home.
- Make sure to stay calm and allow them to say hello to everyone. Make slow introductions with resident pets
- Have a quiet room set up for them with a litterbox (if necessary), bedding, and toys.
Make your home safe
- Secure all windows and doors. Ensure that window screens and sliders are intact to prevent cats from escaping and getting injured during falls. Never leave windows open while animals are unsupervised.
- Fold and secure your window blind cords with a rubber band or tape out of reach. There is risk of strangulation if they become tangled.
- Keep non-food objects like strings, elastics, electrical cords, and children’s toys out of reach to prevent chewing and potential foreign body obstruction.
- Keep toxic plants out of the home. Watch for poisonous houseplants. These include lilies, azaleas, Ficus, jade, and eucalyptus plants.
- Keep valuables and breakables stored out of reach.
- Invest in covered wastebaskets and garbage containers.
- Ensure they can’t become trapped in cupboards, the washing machine or clothes dryer.
- Buy covers for electric cords your pet can reach. Some common cords are computers, TVs, and phone chargers.
The next section focuses on cat ownership. Keep scrolling if you’re looking for tips about dogs!
Which did you choose?
You chose a cat - Enrich their indoor environment!
Some cats prefer to scratch vertically, others horizontally. Try to see what your cat prefers and supply different scratching posts (including several textures) in different rooms of the house. Remember, this is a natural behavior that your cat should be allowed to express.
Cat Trees and Scratching Posts
Cats love to play. Give your companion several toys in rotation and watch what they prefer. Balls, sticks with feathers or ribbons, a pop-up tunnel, toys that crinkle or jingle – the options are endless. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian if the toy is safe. You can even teach your cat some basic tricks!
Replace a traditional food bowl with interactive feeding tools. Your cat will have to “hunt” to collect their food, which will be much more satisfying and stimulating. There are several bowls and balls with different levels of difficulty on the market.
Give window access to your cat. A view of outdoor activities, movement and nature provide mental stimulation for whenever they feel the need or want. Higher windows also provide the perfect view! Ensure windows are safe from potential falls and escape.
A View of the Outside
Whether it’s a cushion, a cardboard box or a small tent, this place must be always be accessible for your cat. they can hide and rest there without being disturbed when needed.
A Safe Place
Cat CarrierThere are all different types of cat carriers now, not just the old plastic hard-shell. As a result, not all carriers will bring out the same behaviours. After all, every cat is unique so it’s good to have options. You may have more success with a fabric and mesh carrier with a zipper closure than with a plastic carrier with metal bars.
So, what can you do to make your cat’s association with a carrier positive?
- Take the door off your carrier, place it inside your cat’s favourite room, and lightly spray with feline pheromone spray to encourage exploration.
- Encourage your cat to go near the carrier Place your cat’s favourite treats near their carrier until they take interest. Slowly work your way up to placing their treats right in front of the carrier, and eventually inside.
- Practice closing the carrier door Once your cat is comfortable going inside the carrier, close the door for a few seconds, open it and offer a treat. Add this to your training routine.
- Get your cat comfortable with the car. With your cat already in the carrier, sit with them for a few minutes in the car without turning the engine on. Repeat until they’re comfortable being in the car.
- Turn the engine on but don’t go anywhere Once your cat’s okay with the engine being on, try going for a short ride around the block.
What shouldn’t you do?
- Force your cat into a carrier headfirst
- Swing the carrier or bump into doors
- Travel with your cat loose in the car
You chose a dog!
Now that you’ve brought your new pup home, focus on what you can do to make them comfortable and well behaved.
Help develop your puppies social skills
Introduce new things earlyNew scents, environments and sounds help desensitize puppies to changes. Keep new experiences positive with plenty of treats!
Learning to be alone can help your puppy remain calm in social situations. If you’re going to crate train, start doing it from day one.
Regularly touch your puppy’s ears, toes, and mouth to familiarize them with the feeling of nail trims, teeth brushing, grooming and vet visits.
Handle your pup
Just like children, dogs can develop separation anxiety. Discourage any unhealthy attachments by giving your pup some toys and leaving them alone to play.
Encourage alone time
If your puppy is too young to be fully vaccinated, avoid places where there are lots of dogs around, like the dog park and classes.
Stay up to date with vaccines
When your puppy is fully vaccinated, check with your local rescue shelter or doggy daycare for puppy classes.
Sign up for puppy classes
Crate trainingMany dogs naturally look for small, enclosed spaces to relax – think of a fox in a den. We can use this trait when bringing home new dogs, especially puppies. A crate gives your puppy a safe space and facilitates potty training. Dogs accustomed to their crate are safer in your vehicle and have an easier time going to the vet and groomer.
Take your puppy outdoors as soon as they are released from their crate, within 15-20 minutes of eating, play, or with any change in their energy or household activity. Go with your puppy – every single time – and reward peeing and pooping with food, verbal praise, or play. Puppies potty train more quickly when we actively show them the correct place to go.
Facilitate Puppy Success
Remember that puppies are leaving their mom and siblings and feel abandoned during those first few days in your home. Encourage the pup to use their crate to get treats and store toys. Play with your pup until they are tired and then place them in the kennel with a food-stuffed chew toy reserved only for crate time.
Crying in the Crate
Close the kennel door for a few minutes. Ignore whining and crying but always check in with your puppy when they are quiet – even if you only get 5 seconds of quiet time. You may have to do this often at the beginning, but the times in-between crying will get longer. Most dogs will acclimate to the kennel within a week or two.
Whether it’s in front of you or while you’re out of sight, ignore the accident. Take your puppy outside and reward if they do pee or poop. Puppies who are punished for having accidents become fearful of their owners instead of learning to eliminate outside. Clean accidents with an enzymatic cleaner to decrease odours.
Be sure your yard is escape proof if you allow your dog outside unsupervised. Your dog should have at least one 20-minute walk outside daily to help release energy and explore different environments. Be sure they have a proper fitting collar or harness they can’t remove by themselves.
Safety tips for you dog
A microchip and/or tag with your contact information is recommended if they become lost. Your dog should be up to date on vaccines if socializing with other pets and receive veterinary parasite prevention to reduce the risk of parasites.
The Joys and Responsibilities of Pet Ownership
As I sit here writing this blog, my new kitten (Gandalf) is purring like a machine and walking all over my keyboard. He is the cutest, friendliest kitten I’ve ever seen, but also a test of patience. Gandalf is a Maine Coon. Cats of this breed need lots of attention, especially when they are kittens.
If my husband and I couldn’t work from home, a Maine Coon wouldn’t have been right for our family. We did our research, but wow. Who knew 3.5 pounds of fluff could have so much energy.
Hopefully, this blog post has helped you decide whether a cat or a dog is right for you. Hopefully, you feel like you know how to prepare, and how to meet the needs of your new pet. Their well-being is incredibly important, so if you haven’t already, consider pet insurance. New pets bring joy into our lives but can also be stressful. Petsecure can give you financial peace of mind when unexpected accidents or illnesses happen.
When it’s finally time to pick up your new pet, make sure to ask you veterinarian, shelter, or breeder if they off a free trial. For now, learn about the comprehensive coverage offered by Petsecure, and get a free quote today!