Choosing a new puppy or kitten can be a daunting business. Although it’s easy to fall in love with the first cute fuzzy bundle you meet, you have to remember that this animal will be a part of your family for many years to come so factors like their temperament and inherited health problems will be important considerations.
What your puppy or kitten needs from you…
Rather than thinking about what you want from your new pet, take a moment to consider what your kitten or puppy’s wish list would be when it comes to finding their perfect owner.
Lots of time for training, playing games, grooming and of course cuddles! A dog is more of a commitment in terms of time as they can suffer greatly if left on their own for more than a few hours a day. Cats are more independent but will still need considerable time and attention, especially in the early months.
Finances to cover daily costs for food, flea and worming treatments, insurance and medical emergencies (the excess for many insurance policies is often over £100). You will also need to budget for replacing things in your home – puppies love to chew anything they can get their teeth around and cats can make short work of soft furnishings with their sharp claws!
Commitment for the rest of the pet’s life (this could be 17+ years for a cat) and a willingness to care for your pet when they are old and stiff and probably don’t smell as good as they used to!
Where to look…
- Registered Professional Breeders
- Breed Rescue Charities
- Dog Shelters and Pounds
- Veterinary Clinic Adverts
WARNING! Be very wary of buying from pet shops, unregistered breeders on the internet or advertisements in local newspapers. You may end up inadvertently supporting the large scale puppy or kitten ‘farming’ industries in which mothers and youngsters are kept in poor conditions and not socialised.
What to look for in a potential puppy
Family History Make sure you see the mother who should look healthy and have a nice temperament. For pedigree dogs, check that the mother meets the breed standard. Evidence that parents are not suffering from common inherited problems such as hip or elbow dysplasia should be available from the breeder.
Happy and Healthy Look for a puppy which is alert and bright eyed with no sign of any discharge from the eyes, nose or ears. Coat should be clean and glossy and check too that the bottom is clean and there is no sign of a poorly tummy. Look in the puppy’s mouth to make sure gums look a healthy pink colour.
Personality It’s usually a good idea to go for the puppy which is neither too bold nor too shy. Rambunctious dogs can overwhelm a first time owner with their energy whereas a nervous puppy will be harder to socialise. A happy, curious but calm puppy will make the best pet for a family household.
Family History The mother cat (queen) should look healthy and have a good temperament. For pedigree cats, check the mother meets the breed standard and that both parents do not suffer from any inherited health problems common for that particular breed.
Bright eyed and bushy Tailed Look for a kitten which is alert and bright eyed with no sign of any discharge from the eyes, nose or ears. Coat should be clean and glossy and check too that the bottom is clean and there is no sign of a poorly tummy. Look in the kitten’s mouth to make sure gums look a healthy pink colour.
Personality If you kitten is going to live in a family household you will need to check the temperament is friendly and kind, although this is not so important if you are intending to show the cat.