Tips for When You’re Ready for Your First Pet

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Tips for When You’re Ready for Your First Pet

Pets fight depression, boost the immune system, keep you active, and even help you make friends. Not to mention, they’re pretty cute. But is a pet right for you? Adopting a pet is a big decision, so it’s important to plan your pet ownership carefully.

What type of commitment do you want to make? On average, cats live 12-18 years, dogs 8-13 years, birds 5-25 years (with some large parrots living 65 years or more!), and rabbits 7-10 years. Think about your plans over the coming years. If you’re a renter, are growing your family, or plan to travel extensively, factor those plans into your decision-making. Remember that you don’t have to adopt a young animal. Older pets are popular companions for first-time pet owners thanks to prior training and calmer temperaments.

Consider the day-to-day duties of pet ownership as well. The fun stuff—walks, playtime, and training sessions—as well as the not-so-fun stuff—cleaning up after pets, grooming, buying supplies, and scheduling vet appointments. Most types of pets love interacting with you, so it’s important to have time for them! If you have a partner, kids, or roommates, make sure everyone understands the rules and responsibilities before bringing your new pet home.

Different pets bring different things to the table. Dogs are the go-to pet for active owners who love to spend time outside, and they’re equally adored by people who appreciate the mental health benefits of pet ownership. Cats are great companions at home, and some cats can even be trained for outdoor adventures. And according to Scientific American, rabbits are a favorite of introverted animal lovers. Think about what you want out of a pet and what type of activities you enjoy. Don’t forget to consider how much space you have in your home and yard; a smaller pet will be much easier to accommodate in an urban apartment than a large dog!

Once you have your heart set on a type of pet, start saving up! If you adopt a dog or cat from an animal shelter or rescue group, it will probably be spayed or neutered and vaccinated when you get it—that means hundreds of dollars in savings! You may have to pay for booster vaccines soon after adoption. It’s also a good idea to get some pets microchipped.

You’ll need to buy everything for your new pet to be comfortable in your home. For small, caged pets, that means an enclosure with enrichment opportunities and comfortable bedding. Dogs need a crate, toys, leash, and a comfortable dog bed. Large dogs in particular should have high-quality orthopedic dog beds. For cats, add a litter box and a cat tree to serve as a window-front perch. Don’t forget food, treats, and litter or bedding while you’re at the store. If you can, learn what your pet ate pre-adoption and switch to a new food gradually. This advice from Hill’s will guide you through the process.

When you bring your pet home, it’s time to bond and make your pet part of the family. Take it slow at first. Pets easily get overwhelmed in new environments, and too much attention only makes it worse. Give your pet some space for the first few days by setting him up in a quiet room. Gradually increase your interaction, always giving lots of praise and reinforcing the behaviors you want to see.

It’s tough to beat the unconditional love of a pet that’s always happy when you walk in the door. However, it’s important to be ready for the short-term and long-term realities of pet ownership. By ensuring you’re ready for your pet, you’re ensuring years of companionship and joy.

~~Jessica Brody is a dog lover and creator of OurBestFriends.pet. She created the site to offer a place for animal lovers to share their favorite pet photos and stories about their furry pals. Jessica believes dogs are the best creatures on earth. She enjoys writing about and sharing photos of dogs (and other pets!) on her website.

Image via Unsplash

New Wellness Pages Added

Holy new pages, Cat Woman! I added two pages on this site under the Menu Tab Your Health. Actually, when you click on Your Health, the first article is found there (also Google Adsense may plunk an ad in the middle of this post – just to warn you!):

8 Ways Cats Can Improve Your Health and Wellness

and the second post is:

Allergic to Cats? Possible Ways to Reduce Problems and Still Own a Cat

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Survey Results – Pets, Holidays, Shopping

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June is Adopt-A-Cat Month. Things to know.

ADOPT-A-CAT MONTH®

Each spring during “kitten season,” thousands of newborn kittens join the millions of cats already in shelters across the country. That means your local shelter has tons of cute, cuddly newborns, in addition to all the mellow, older cats and everything in between. And the shelter staff are ready to help you adopt your very first cat — or to bring home a friend for another beloved cat!

Jessie Cat (below, with Gina) says:  I wasn’t adopted from a shelter, but from a back yard!! I was a stray. And that’s still considered adoption! I’m definitely a Rescue Cat. So, read the checklist below for adopting a cat and high tail it to the nearest shelter!

Adopt a Cat Month

TOP TEN CHECKLIST FOR ADOPTING A CAT

Thinking of adopting a cat? First, check out these helpful tips, gathered by American Humane Association.​

1. If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, consider taking home two. Cats require exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction. Two cats can provide this for each other. Plus they’ll provide more benefits to you. Cats’ purring has been shown to soothe humans as well as themselves – and they have an uncanny ability to just make you smile. A great place to start your search is online. Sites like petfinder.com let you search numerous shelters in your area simultaneously to help narrow your search and more quickly find the match that’s right for you and your new feline friend.

2. Find a cat whose personality meshes with yours. Just as we each have our own personality, so do cats. In general, cats with long hair and round heads and bodies are more easygoing than lean cats with narrow heads and short hair, who are typically more active. Adoption counselors can offer advice to help you match the cat’s personality with your own.

3. Pick out a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption. You’ll want to take any medical records you received from the adoption center on your first visit. Kittens in particular should accompany you to make the appointment – even before the exam itself – so staff can pet the cat and tell you that you’ve chosen the most beautiful one ever.

4. Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat before it comes home. Visiting the shelter or animal control facility should be a family affair. When adopting a new cat with existing pets at home, discuss with the adoption facility how to make a proper introduction.

5. Budget for the short- and long-term costs of a cat. Understand any pet is a responsibility and there’s a cost associated with that. A cat adopted from a shelter is a bargain; many facilities will have already provided spaying or neutering, initial vaccines, and a microchip for permanent identification.

6. Stock up on supplies before the cat arrives. Be prepared so your new cat can start feeling at home right away. Your cat will need a litter box, cat litter, food and water bowls, food, scratching posts, safe and stimulating toys, a cushy bed, a brush for grooming, a toothbrush and nail clippers.

7. Cat-proof your home. A new cat will quickly teach you not to leave things lying out. Food left on the kitchen counter will serve to teach your new friend to jump on counters for a possible lunch. Get rid of loose items your cat might chew on, watch to ensure the kitten isn’t chewing on electric cords, and pick up random items like paper clips (which kittens may swallow).

8. Go slowly when introducing your cat to new friends and family. It can take several weeks for a cat to relax in a new environment. It’s a great idea to keep the new addition secluded to a single room (with a litter box, food and water, toys, and the cat carrier left out and open with bedding inside) until the cat is used to the new surroundings; this is particularly important if you have other pets. If you’ve adopted a kitten, socialization is very important. But remember – take it slow.

9. Be sure to include your new pet in your family’s emergency plan. You probably have a plan in place for getting your family to safety in case of an emergency. Adjust this plan to include your pets. Add phone numbers for your veterinarian and closest 24-hour animal hospital to your “in-case-of-emergency” call list.

10. If you’re considering giving a cat as a gift, make sure the recipient is an active participant in the adoption process. Though well-meaning, the surprise kitty gift doesn’t allow for a “get-to know-one-another” period. Remember, adopting a cat isn’t like purchasing a household appliance or a piece of jewelry – this is a real living, breathing, and emotional being.

 

Brought to you in June by American Humane Association

Sponsor a Cat

Are you wondering how you can help make a difference in the lives of cats needing forever homes? Perhaps you’ve already maxed out the number of pets for your household, but still want to do something to help?

Sponsor a cat. Or sometimes this is called virtually adopting a cat.

Contact your local pet shelter or humane society and ask if there is one cat you could “virtually adopt” or sponsor. Tell them you would send either cash donations and/or donate items the cat can use. If they agree, dash over to the shelter/humane society and choose a cat. Have them tag the cage with information that you are a sponsor for that cat so the workers there are aware of the setup.

Take photos of the cat and spread the news that the cat is needing a home.

Ask for updates from the shelter if you are unable to stop by frequently. Be sure to honor your pledge to donate cash and/or items for this particular cat. Hoping this baby gets adopted in a timely manner, then choose another cat to sponsor!

Many cat lovers want to help and make a difference but don’t know what to do and feel helpless. Either they have no more room in their home for additional pets or they don’t have time to volunteer or don’t have enough money to completely care for another pet of their own. Becoming a sponsor for a cat benefits everyone involved. What you’re donating for that cat is just that much LESS money the shelter has to put towards that cat’s care. AND if you help to actively promote the cat’s adoption needs and someone chooses to adopt this cat, YIPPEE! That is the perfect ending!

The joy you’ll experience being a part of this process is priceless. Now go call your local shelter or humane society and ask if they allow people to sponsor a cat… and if they haven’t done such a thing, please encourage them to do so, as they will benefit from your help.