Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Making a New Pet Feel Welcome at Home

By Rebecca_sands @Rebecca_Sands

 Moxie at Daily Inspiration Board

Over the past few weeks, my boyfriend and I have been spending a lot of time online and in real life looking for advice about how to best introduce a new pet to your home. Some might be asking, why now? Well, I’m very happy to announce that we have adopted a new pet! Her name is Moxie and she’s a two-month-old tabby cat who, at times, looks more like an Ocelot kitten with a bit of Bengal in her than a domestic short hair. That’s her and I in the above picture, when we got her from the NSW Animal Welfare League at Ingleside, Sydney.

We’ve had her for a week and we are already deeply in love with her. She is proving to be a great friend and companion around the house. We have owned a pet before (you can read about the beautiful Rocket here), but after Rocket sadly passed away last year I was keen to make sure I could give this little kitten the best start to life possible.

So, with my prior experience and some of that research in my mind, here are my thoughts on how to welcome a new pet (kitten or other animal) to your home and into your family.

Do your homework to find out the pet best suited to your lifestyle
This one is about setting yourself up for success, even before you’ve decided which pet to adopt. Because, if you choose one that isn’t well suited to where you live, the amount of free time you have and how much you can spend on it, then, when the time comes, you won’t be able to give it much of a warm welcome at home. Consider the size of your home or apartment, access to outdoors (some pets need it), what times you’re normally at home, if there are other pets around and if you have children or visitors come over regularly.

Set up an area for your new pet before they are introduced to the home
When we got Rocket, we were a little under prepared and were scrambling to get his cage together with him in it. Not the best start but, nevertheless, he got used to the space. With Moxie, we deliberately made sure we had everything ready before letting her out of the cat carrier to have a roam around. We noticed that she settled in quickly and became comfortable with the location and soon felt confident enough to start venturing around the room.

Introduce your pet to all the areas of your home gradually
Most animals are territorial to one degree or another and, as such need time to inspect their new surroundings and put their scent all over it. If you give them access to your whole home right away, they’re going to feel anxious because they can’t mark all that territory quickly enough, leading to the potential for increased stress as they feel other animals could take over. Giving your new pet the time to adjust and mark a smaller space (like one or two rooms) will also mean you are calmer as you don’t need to worry about them making a mess too quickly.

Set aside time to help your new pet become acquainted with their surroundings
Whether you’re getting a new kitten, baby bird, puppy or other pet, the most important thing you should take into account is spending lots of time with them when they first get home. Most animals who come from a shelter or breeding situation are generally with their family or close social group. As you and your loved ones will be the pet’s new family, it’s extremely important to bond with them early on, especially if they’re babies. This doesn’t mean being together 24/7, but certainly, for the first few days, setting aside other activities to focus your spare time on helping your new pet acclimate to the way you behave, smell and speak to them.

Book a vet appointment pronto
We’ve had mixed experiences with pets and, when we adopted Rocket, he came from a pet store and, unfortunately, they gave us plenty of the wrong advice. Rocket had his first visit about six weeks after he came home with us and, by that stage, he was very unhealthy. Luckily, the vet was top notch and gave us all the right advice to help Rocket get back to health. In Moxie’s case, she went for her first vet visit yesterday, one week after we adopted her, and we got all the right advice and were able to verify that she is in great health. Do this sooner, rather than later, and it can save you a bunch of hassle, emotion and cost down the track.

What’s your experience with new pets? 

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