Welcoming your new puppy or kitten

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Many people choose spring to welcome a new puppy or kitten to the family, so whether your new arrival is imminent or you’re considering a pet in the near future, we’ll fill you in on all the essential prep and handy pointers before you pick them up.

Before they arrive

April to September is a popular time for people to bring home their furry arrival, whether you know a neighbour with a pet who has recently given birth, or have sought out a reputable breeder. We’re of the opinion that any animal will bring joy into your life, but the satisfaction of rescuing a pet in need through adoption will make the experience even more fulfilling. We would always encourage visiting a rescue centre if it’s an option, and giving a cat or dog a second chance at a happy, healthy life.

As soon as you’ve chosen your new pet, or more likely, as soon as they’ve chosen you, the first thing you’ll want to do is ensure they’ve spent eight weeks in the company of their mother and siblings. This time of bonding and nurture is so important for their development.

While you wait for their arrival, one of the best things you can do is pet-proof your home. Cover all bases, from hiding exposed electrical cords they might try to chew on, add safety locks to doors or areas that might be a safety hazard, and consider rehoming or moving plants that might be toxic to pets.

Assign responsibilities

It’s wise to be aware from the beginning that owning and caring for a pet is a big responsibility and a serious commitment. Giving everyone in the family an assigned role will help your new puppy or kitten feel at home and adapt to their new surroundings. Choose who will walk the dog, who will feed the kitten and who will be in charge of grooming. A consistent routine will benefit both you and your new furry family member.

Pet essentials we recommend

Some new owners find that pheromones and calming products are helpful when welcoming a new puppy or kitten. Adaptil (for dogs) or Feliway (for cats) can help replicate the smell of your pet’s mother, creating a sense of reassurance and reducing stress when settling into a new home. Spraying their carrier and your car with a pheromone or calming solution is also an option to help make their transition smooth. Spritz around 15 minutes beforehand. We also recommend a plug diffuser in the home. Start using it roughly a week before they move in.

★ New pet tip 

When you’re first introduced to your new pet, it’s a good idea to leave a t-shirt or blanket with their bedding. Cats and dogs rely on their sense of smell, so not only will they get used to your scent, but when you collect them, they’ll hopefully be more relaxed.

They’re home!

When the day finally arrives, remember that your new pet might feel a little unsettled and nervous after their journey. For kittens, choose a quiet space, preferably an entire room, where they’ll be able to stay for a few days before exploring the rest of the house.

We know this next bit of advice may be frustrating, but resisting from cuddling and petting your new kitten or puppy at first is the best approach. Letting them make the first move and approach you will reduce anxiety and make them more comfortable. When they’re more familiar with their new environment, they’ll be set to meet other people, including any other pets in the household.

★ New pet tip

Playing with your pet is a great way to break the ice. It’s a fun approach to bonding and will feel less intrusive and overwhelming for them.

A few days in

After the initial move, your new pet should start to feel more comfortable within a few days. They’ll hopefully come out of their shell, be keen to play and start responding when you call their name. Don’t fret if this isn’t the case for your pet, some furries need more time, are shyer, or just require some extra patience.

It’s wise to keep a close eye on your new pet’s eating and toilet habits to become familiar with what’s normal for them. They should be eating regularly and their poo should clean, meaning it should be free of blood and parasites.

This may seem obvious, but remember you’ll need to have plenty of patience with your new furry friend. They will likely want to chew, explore, scratch and generally get in the way, but this is simply their natural instinct. As they grow and learn the rules, they will use their scratching post, their litter tray and choose their toys as a plaything (instead of your shoes).

Don’t be concerned or disheartened if your existing pets act with some hostility towards your new pet. It can take weeks for pets to befriend one another, or even simply tolerate them. Ensuring they have separate beds, litter trays and bowls will prevent further issues and put a stop to any feelings of jealousy or competition.

A few days after they’ve settled, take your pet to the vet. That way they can get a general health check, with your vet looking for parasites or anything unusual. This is also the best time to discuss vaccinations, neutering, insurance and microchipping. It can sound overwhelming, but each of these things will keep your pet happy, safe and healthy for the future.

★ New pet tip

If you plan on letting your cat outside, be sure that they’ve totally adjusted to their new home before they’re allowed out. This can take weeks. As a general rule, pets shouldn’t be let outdoors until they’ve had their vaccinations, and for cats, after they’ve been spayed or neutered.

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