How to prepare for a new kitten!

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The day has arrived and it’s time to go and pick up your new kitten. But do make sure you are prepared before they arrive so you can given them all of your attention when they do.

Predictably, there is a shopping list, but how much you spend is up to you. You don’t have to go crazy, but you can if you want. Here are some items you will want to have ready:

Cat carrier. This is the first item you are going to need to bring home your precious cargo. Make sure you choose a good quality carrier as you will need it throughout your pet’s life, so it’s worth investing in.

Collar. We have always failed miserably to get either of our cats to wear a collar. However it is worth a try as with a tag attached it is another form of ID if they get lost.

Food and water bowls. You can use any bowls for food and water, but most new owners want to buy something specific for their cat. It’s worth having two food bowls, especially if you are feeding wet food to your cat, as one can go in the wash while the other is being used. Water will need changing every day, unless you opt for a water fountain dispenser – cats love drinking from running water.

Litter tray. Whether your cat is going to be an indoor cat, or have access to a cat flap, you are going to need a litter tray for the first few weeks of their time with you. There are many styles on the market, but if you feel you might be bothered by odours, opt for a covered litter tray with a door.

Kitten food. Make sure you buy good quality kitten food. Ask the breeder what they have been eating up until now so you can get some of the food they are familiar with and make the change slowly.

Toys. Kittens are playful creatures, so it is important to have some toys to keep them entertained once their confidence grows. Your local pet store will have shelves groaning with a choice of toys, but don’t forget that something as simple as an empty toilet roll on a piece of string or a cardboard box to hide in can be as entertaining as a piece of brightly coloured plastic.

Scratch post. Cats like to scratch, so a scratching post is a great investment if you don’t want them sharpening their claws on your new sofa!

Bed. Cats are contrary animals, so investing in a plush, comfy looking bed could be a complete waste of money when they decide they prefer sleeping on the door mat! Cut down a card board box and put a fluffy towel in there to act as a bed until you have sussed out where your new pet is going to choose to sleep.

Grooming tools. Depending on the breed of cat you opt for, it may need daily grooming, in which case you are going to need a brush. All cats need a regular pedicure, so get a small pair of cat nail clippers while you are at it. But before you first clip their nails, make sure you read some instructions or watch a YouTube ‘how to’ video so you know what you are doing.

Vet. Pet owning friends are the best source of recommendations for which vet to register with for your new kitten. Make sure you register before you pick them up so that should anything untoward occur in the first few days, you don’t have to panic.

Insurance. Ask both friends and your vet for advice on insurance. While many vets may have an affiliation with certain insurers, they should also be able to offer advice on questions to ask as you do your due diligence on which plan to opt for.

Got everything? Well, in that case, you’re ready to bring your new kitty home!

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How to choose a puppy or kitten

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Choosing to own a puppy or cat has to begin with making sure that everyone who lives in your house is on board. If one of you is not keen, the chances are that it is not going to be a happy experience, so it might be wise to shelve the idea for now.

It is also important in the case of buying a puppy, that at least one of you is around for some of the time on weekdays. Dogs are pack animals and will become anxious and unhappy if left on their own for long periods of time on a regular basis.

So assuming you have a full house of thumbs ups, it might be worth doing a bit of research into costs before you make a final decision. These costs can include:

  • Initial purchase price which can vary between breeds and pedigrees
  • Vaccinations – cats and dogs need to be vaccinated before they can go outside to avoid catching nasty diseases
  • Spaying and neutering should you decide to take this route
  • Ongoing costs of food, flea treatment and worming
  • Insurance – an absolute must to avoid expensive vet bills should your pet have an accident or develop a long term illness.

Once you have done your research and you are still keen to take the plunge, the following pointers should be taken into account. Some of these are more applicable to dogs than cats, but either way you want to make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder rather than a ‘breeding farm’.

Pointer 1 – Make sure you are confident that the person selling puppies or kittens is a responsible breeder. Ask questions such as ‘Can I meet the mother and father’, ‘Has the puppy been fully socialised?’ Ask to see photos so you can see the surroundings that they have been born into. Of course visiting is imperative and will give you a much better feel for the breeder as well.

Pointer 2 – If a puppy or kitten is being sold as a pedigree, ask to see the paper work of the parents first.

Pointer 3 – Don’t buy from a pet shop. While smaller animals might be well-cared for, larger animals may have come from trade farms and may have health and behavioural issues as a result. What’s more, you don’t want to be supporting this kind of cruel practice.

Pointer 4 – When you go to choose a puppy, be careful that your heart does not rule your head. Choose neither the timid runt of the litter, nor the gung-ho over-confident puppy. Both are likely to have behavioural issues and while these can be overcome an experienced trainer, it’s better to opt for the well-rounded middle pup if you have the choice.

Pointer 5 – Experts advise against buying two puppies at the same time, even if they are from the same litter. However cats will thrive with company, especially if you are out at work all day.

Pointer 6 – Make sure you research different breeds before making a choice. Both cats and dogs have very different temperaments and needs depending on their breed. This is more noticeable with dogs, some of whom need a lot more space and exercise than other and there are certainly differences in ease of training too.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Of course read around, but don’t become overwhelmed. Yes, it’s an important decision and yes there are certain rules you really must follow, but common sense and some research around should see you making the right choice for you.

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