All in the Family: Bringing a New Pet Home
So when bringing home a cat or kitten, Hatfield recommends that owners kitten- or cat-proof a small room to start with and then gradually give feline friends more space. Let her pick the place that makes her the most comfortable. If your new kitty wants to hide for a while, give her some space and time to let her adjust to her new surroundings by exploring and feeling them out in her own time.
Be sure to give her fresh food and water each day, but otherwise leave her alone, advises Hatfield. Cats often don’t feel secure in a new environment until they have learned where all the good hiding places are. However, if your new cat is still hiding after several days, a trip to the vet may be necessary to make sure she is not ill.
Though kittens and puppies tend to be more curious and get into more trouble than adult cats and dogs, it’s important to pet-proof your home no matter what the age of your new companion.
Another good tip: don’t invite the whole neighborhood over to meet your new dog on the first day you bring him home. Let your pup get used to his new home and new family. Too many new faces and petting hands can be overwhelming.
Scent can often be very reassuring to animals, so if possible, take something along that smells like your pet’s former home, such as a towel, blanket, or favorite toy.
Letting Your Kids in on the Fun
Chances are, your child has been on pins and needles waiting for the day that the new dog or kitten comes home.
While a pet can be a great way to teach children about responsibility, be realistic about what they can help with. Young children may be able to help feed a dog or cat and older children can help to exercise their new pet, but an adult needs to have primary responsibility for both the day-to-day care of a pet and making sure all appropriate veterinary care is given on time, says Hatfield.
It is also important that children be taught how to interact with dogs and cats, even if they have been around them before. While many pets can learn to tolerate some poking, prodding, and hugs from a child, it’s best to let both sides get used to each other first.
Rather than let him find out for himself with bites and scratches, Hatfield recommends purchasing an age appropriate book about dogs or cats that gives easy to understand information about how to care for them.
By creating a safe, nurturing environment for your pet, you and your family will give its new four-legged member the best welcome of all.
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