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Kitten and puppy-proofing your life

Approx. 7 minutes read

How exciting! Your new four-legged baby is arriving soon and you need to be ready and prepared for all that might come your way. Your new little baby is going to be very scared and will rely on you to feel safe. You want your baby to trust you and feel comfortable in her new surroundings so she can grow up being confident, loyal and proud. Here are a few tips to help you.

Proofing your house

Before your new pet arrives, have a look around and see if there are any hazardous objects that can harm them. Remember, it’s a new environment and they will want to explore everywhere!

Take note specifically of the following hazards

  • Remove potentially poisonous plants.
  • Keep all medication and cleaning supplies in a locked cabinet.
  • Keep rubbish bins closed or put them high up enough so they cannot be reached.
  • Keep toilet lids closed and baths and basins empty to avoid drowning hazards.
  • Run electric cords through spiral cable wraps, cord concealers or even PVC pipes. This will prevent chewing and reduce the risk of electrocution.
  • Keep doors and windows closed. Make sure they are securely fastened and in good repair so your baby doesn’t fall through or escape.
  • Make sure your pool is covered at all times.

These are just a few tips, but you’ll have to keep a special eye on your new kitten or puppy most of the time – especially during the first few months – until they’ve settled in nicely and know what is allowed and what is not. It’s like having a toddler wandering around, exploring and doing things that could harm them. But what better excuse for spending more time with your new fluffball!

Your little one has finally arrived! What now?

1. Go to the vet

First things first. Even if your new addition has been adopted out as a healthy pup or kitten, take her to your own vet to get her checked out. An adopted/rescue pet will already have had their shots, dewormer and microchip done, but if you are responsible for these initial treatments, now is the perfect time to get them done. 

You will receive a vaccination card, which you must always have with you when you travel. Make sure their vaccinations are always up to date. It’s important to get your new pet microchipped. Many kittens or puppies either escape or are stolen – a microchip is the best way to give her a chance of being returned safely to you if she ends up at the SPCA, a shelter or a vet.

Use the opportunity to get expert advice on the best puppy or kitten food for your new little one, how often to feed and when you should come in again for their next round of vaccinations and dewormer.

2. Arriving home for the first time

The first day at home will be a brand-new experience for both you and your new kitten or puppy. It can be very scary. Your new little pet has just met you and will now be introduced to a totally new, large, unfamiliar environment. Whether from a shelter or a breeder, your new baby will need you to protect her when she’s scared and missing her mom or shelter-mates. Introduce her to everything slowly and patiently. Get down on the floor and see everything from her eyes.

Make her comfortable in her new bed and give her food and water in the same place every day. She will learn some security in this routine and consistency. Over time, she will become familiar with each room in the house.

After introducing your baby to her new home, it’s time to meet the people. Do this one person at a time. Let the person sit or stand and allow your baby to go to them. If the person approaches your new pet, it can be overwhelming. She will approach when she’s ready, then get a confidence boost with each positive interaction. 

After meeting all the people you can introduce your baby to the other pets – read our article on how to do this properly. 

3. Puppy or kitty’s first night

What a BIG day! After introducing your baby to her new home, family members and pets, the poor little thing will be exhausted! Like babies, your little one will also sleep a lot and it’s important that she feels safe when she does. She will prefer the safety and comfort of your company and won’t enjoy being separated from you. Up to this point, she will have had the company of other littermates or sheltermates, so she may feel scared or lonely on her first night home.

Give your puppy a nice big, soft teddy for something to snuggle, and keep her company while she falls asleep. Keep reassuring her if she’s scared. Kittens are a bit braver and will probably sleep near or on top of you.

4. The trials of potty training 

From the day she arrives home, your new puppy will probably leave a little puddle here and there in the house. House training can start immediately too, so read more about house training your puppy and litter training your kitten

Remember that secure house training can only be done in a positive way. Be patient and follow a routine. Clean the litter box regularly for your precious kitten.

5. Toys

Puppies and kittens love new games and toys. Soon they will start teething and they may end up wanting to chew on furniture, shoes, plants… anything they can get their teeth into! Providing toys and playing games with them will keep them busy and make them tired quicker. Hopefully this will help you save some of your household goodies. While they are in destructive mode, here are some great ideas for making your own pet toys to keep them occupied.

DIY toys for dogs

DIY toys for cats

6. Loud scary noises

Thunderstorms and fireworks can be super scary for your little one. It is natural for your pet to be scared and her survival instinct will have her wanting to run away. Dogs and cats experience the world through their senses – nose, eyes and ears. Here are a few tips to help you and your pet during these times.

Preparation

Have a room in your house where the noise is not so loud, e.g. the TV room where the TV or radio can keep them distracted from the noise.

Provide them with a comfortable bed to lie on and to be near you or a friend. Cats prefer to hide in a cupboard or a closed space. Make sure these places are always available for your pets. This way you’ll always know where to find them.

Acclimatation

The best way to make sure your pet will be okay during these times is to get them used to loud noises. This can take up to three or four months, but keep trying. Play recorded sounds of fireworks and thunderstorms and slowly increase the volume. Please seek the help of a behaviourist or your vet if you have a terrified pet.

Sedation

Some pets really cannot cope with the sounds of fireworks and they can hurt themselves trying to escape. Speak to your vet and ask how you can properly sedate your pet when you know there will be a storm or fireworks. Your vet will know the safe dosage to use according to your pet’s weight and health.

Communication

When there are fireworks or thunderstorms, reassure your baby in a calm and collected voice. Your pets are sensitive to your emotions, so try and relax and they will relax.

Once all the booms, bangs and cracks are all over, your baby will be happy that he had a place of safety.

7. Spay and neuter

When your baby reaches six months, she will be sexually mature and capable of reproducing. Let it not get to that – this is the right time for your pet to be sterilised. Vets recommend that you get your pet spayed before she goes on heat; this is also better for her health as it helps to prevent certain cancers and it stops pets from wandering around. 

There are so many dogs and cats that do not have homes as a result of irresponsible pet owners who didn’t sterilise their pets. Be one of the responsible ones and get your pet sterilised before the first ‘oopsie’ litter.

8. Socialising – Best way to bond with your dog

Dogs love to socialise and play games. This builds a connection between you and your pup – one that lasts a lifetime. Your dog will trust you more and enjoy being in your company. This is also the best time to have your pup socialised with other dogs so she can learn how to get along with others. Socialisation helps to prevent territorial, aggressive or scared behaviours and will make outings and park days fun for everyone. 

Puppy school is also a great way to help your baby socialise and teach her manners amongst her peers while also learning commands and basic training.

9. Unconditional love

You chose your new puppy or kitten and it is therefore your responsibility to give her food, water and shelter for the rest of her life. Most importantly, you must show her love, love and more love! She will return it unconditionally as her entire purpose in life is to love you back. She will be the first one to greet you and she will be there when nobody else is! Our pets forgive, forget, and ALWAYS love. Look after them and be your pet’s biggest hero.

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