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Why is there a pet in my house?! (and is it happy?)

Approx. 6 minutes read

The human-pet relationship has evolved over millennia, with each new decade (and each new year) bringing new developments in the best ways to live side-by-side with our furry and purry friends. Therefore, it helps to review this relationship from time to time and to explore how best to strengthen the symbiosis between human and dog, and human and cat.

So, how and why did pets end up in human homes in the first place? This is interesting…

When did dogs become domesticated?

It was only a few years ago that scientists and geneticists were able to accurately answer the question: when did dogs become domesticated? They’ve estimated the date of the beginning of the human and canine relationship to be around 25,000 years ago (with some estimates going as far back as 36,000 years), when (then) wolves learnt to curry favour with humans, who then fed them scraps from their hunts; or when humans and wolves hunted symbiotically, and the canines provided protection from other large predators.

DNA sequencing has revealed that the early domestication of dogs appears to have occurred in Siberia, Europe and Asia. As nomadic humans moved into the North Americas, so too did their wolfdogs – or ‘proto-dogs’ – evolving alongside humans, and adapting together to meet the needs of their changing environments. Some scientists even question whether agriculture and human settlements would have occurred without the confluence of humans and canines – as this early relationship was borne out of the need for survival and strengthened by the evolutionary benefits of platonic friendship between dog and man.

When did cats become domesticated?

The human-cat relationship is a fairly recent development compared to the domestication of the dog; with cat domestication dated to approximately 10,000 years ago. When humans began to settle more permanently in order to practice agriculture, the increased food stores attracted pests like rodents. Cat domestication occurred when the Middle Eastern wildcat took advantage of this new abundant food source of rodents. The settled humans with their agricultural excess also produced food scraps, which ultimately became the first cat treats. This gave the wild cats a reason to hang around with people, and taught them that purring, meowing and rubbing up against human legs – over and above performing pest control – would earn them further treats.

The difference between dog and cat domestication is that cats have not evolved extensively from their wildcat ancestors, and still retain many of their wild characteristics. Their hunting instincts are still very much intact, they are still independent and fiercely territorial, and they are still obligate carnivores – whereas dogs have developed omnivorous diets.

Fast-forward a few millennia, and cats and dogs have cemented their place in the lives, homes and hearts of humans. It’s impawsible to imagine our lives without pets. A bit of scrolling through Instagram and TikTok, or talking to other pet pawrents, and it’s clear that today’s dogs have (mostly) landed with their bums in the butter – getting a great deal in return for providing protection and companionship, herding, guarding and droving, for the last 25,000 years.

Today’s cats, however, fancy themselves undomesticated: fearsome rulers of the night; purry overlords of their pet human’s domain; emotionally detached sovereign leaders of the 21st century.

Why do we still share our homes with animals?

Living so closely with pets, it’s crucial to realise that, contrary to popularist cliché, our furry and purry friends are still four-legged mammals with different needs to those of humans. Pets – especially dogs – have become so good at responding to our emotional needs that sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish the benefits we derive from them compared to our human friends. Dogs read body language, facial expression, and even our ‘vibe’, and they respond so appropriately that they meet our social need for connection, support, and emotional and mental wellbeing. (They shouldn’t share a coffee or a beer with you, though…)

Human biology has also adapted to derive benefit from cats’ purring. At a purrticular frequency, the positive effects of purring include a reduction in stress, lowering of blood pressure and an increase in proactive healing by the body. Playing with your cat also has the added benefit of increasing endorphins and oxytocin… though not all cats will admit that this is a bidirectional exchange!

Given the proof in the research, it’s only fair that we respond in kind to our pets and give them a homely environment that also meets their physical, mental and emotional needs.

Everything you need for a dog to live in your home

Whether you’re just starting out on your pet parenting journey, or whether you’re a seasoned peteran, you and your four-legged companions will benefit from reviewing how you’re meeting their needs.

If you’re new to the game of dog ownership and are about to adopt a puppy, this handy puppy starter kit checklist will provide you with an effective springboard into puppy parenting. For puppy and adult dogs alike, the pet essentials you’ll need include:

Plus, it’s not just about what you buy to make sure your new puppy or dog is comfortable – you’ll also need to prepare their space to ensure they are safe as they learn the rules. Here’s your refresher on puppy-proofing your home.

Everything you need for a cat to live in your home

The same applies to cat lovers: if you’re thinking of adopting a kitten (or two – small kittens always develop better social skills when they have a little friend), you’ll need to check out this convenient kitten starter checklist.

For kittens and adult cats alike, the pet essentials you’ll need include:

Yes, it’s awesome to buy the best cat accessories for your beautiful feline friend, but it’s also about her ease of living and maintaining her health and wellbeing. Cats will decide on their own if they actually like that expensive drinking fountain you bought, but as long as it’s there, it’s the intention that counts!

Health essentials you need when you have pets

Adopting a cat and/or a dog is all fun and games until they encounter a health problem. From something minor like a bout of itchy skin, to a serious condition like tick bite fever, it’s the pet hero’s responsibility to ensure our furry and purry friends are not just comfortable and happy, but healthy too! Many pet health problems can be treated with preventative products before they occur. It’s impawtant, therefore, that you get to know your pet well and take responsibility for their health even before they appear to be under the weather.  

The following health essentials are necessary for both dogs and cats:

Cleaning essentials you need when you have pets

When you see a puppy or kitten, your first reaction is usually AWWWW, THAT’S SO CUTE! I want one! Whereas, it’s at this point – when you start contemplating adoption, playtime, puppy naps and kitten purrs – that you really should face a reality check. A pet means love, cuddles, playtime and endorphins, but it also means cleaning. Expert-level cleaning. Furtunately, there are some expert-level experts who have developed pet-friendly cleaning essentials, which every pet pawrent should stock up on. We recommend the following:

  • surface cleaners/disinfectants
  • odour neutralisers
  • carpet cleaners/fabric deodorisers
  • hard floor cleaners
  • stain removers

The way these products work is through bio-enzymatic action – the ‘good bacteria’ in the products target and neutralise all organic material. The cleaning agents go to work on the source of the stains and bad smells, leaving your floors, carpets, surfaces and fabrics just as good as they were before the pet accidents.

We’ve covered the importance of knowing which pet-safe cleaning products you can use in your home, as well as how they work. Read this article for a more in-depth look at the right cleaning products to use around your pets.

So, if you’ve got everything you need for a dog to live in your home (or for a cat to share what is now their home with you), as well as all the health essentials and cleaning essentials necessary to give your pet and your family a healthy environment, you can rest assured that your pet is probably overjoyed to be part of your furry clan.

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