So you’ve made that life-changing, momentous decision. You’ve had the epiphany moment and a new puppy or kitten is what’s currently missing from your life. So where do you start looking for a new puppy or kitten?
STOP! Before starting to look, I recommend working your way through the following key questions and basing your next move on their answers. Choosing a new puppy or kitten is a big decision with far-reaching consequences, both emotional and financial, if choices are made for the wrong reasons. So spend a little time mulling over these important considerations to ascertain what sort of pet will best suit your lifestyle. Here are 4 key questions to ask yourself before buying a new puppy or kitten.
1. Do you have a preferred breed in mind?
Have you considered what others in the family may think about this breed? How much exercise will dogs need and how much time will you have to go for walks? Think about the breed’s size relative to you and your property. Can you afford to care for this breed, both at the outset and also be able to look after them well for the whole of their lives? Start reading about different breeds to find the right one for you.
2. Would a non-pedigree crossbreed animal be an option for you?
Pedigree pets often, but not always, have a more consistent appearance and behavioural traits, whilst cross-bred pets are generally healthier over their lifetimes. However, they can still inherit both, good and undesirable traits from either parent.
There are plenty of cross-bred pets wanting a forever-home in animal shelters so why fuel the pedigree or commercially farmed pet trade? Cross-bred dogs generally have a lower purchase cost than pedigree. This has started to change with the trend towards ‘designer dogs’ which are, in fact, merely the first generation of cross-bred dogs. These can command a higher price than either of the individual pedigree parent’s breeds would.
3. What are your current circumstances and is that breed appropriate to them?
Circumstances change throughout life, but it is important to consider every eventuality. Consider how much time you will be able spend each day with your pet. Are you planning to move to a place where you may not be able to take your pet? If your personal, family or financial circumstances are likely to change significantly during the lifetime of your pet, think about whether you will be able to afford general healthcare, feeding costs and veterinary bills.
4. How can you make the initial transition, once brought home, as stress-free for that animal as possible?
As cats are highly territorial, I recommend housing cats in a one-cat household. An adult cat in your home may not tolerate a new cat entering his or her territory, with stressful and potentially tragic consequences. Sibling cats may be homed together. Feliway, a synthetic Feline Facial Pheremone available as a diffuser or spray can be reduce stress in the initial settling-in period. Kittens should be provided with a scratching post and a comfortable, padded covered box or cave to hide in.
For a month whilst a puppy is settling into its new environment, I recommend using Adaptil diffusers. These mimic Dog Appeasement Pheremone (D.A.P.), released by mothers to puppies to calm and soothe them. Your puppy will be most comfortable in a padded crate, and of course keep your new puppy protected from sudden, loud noises.
For further information about a potential new puppy or kitten purchase, please contact the practice for friendly, professional advice. Also, don’t forget Two By Two Veterinary Centre offers a free healthcheck to all new puppies, kittens and rabbit kits once you’ve got them home.
Andrew Monchar, Director, Two By Two Veterinary Centre