We all know that adopting a pet is a big commitment. It takes time, money, and love to take care of them. But it's also an amazing experience that can make you happier and more fulfilled in your life.
If you are considering getting a pet, there is a lot to consider! What type of animal do you want, do you want a specific breed or gender, where will you look, how to prepare your children, and how to prepare your existing pets – just to list a few!
When we lost our female cat last spring, we agreed to not get another for a long time. But we realized our male cats miss her, I missed having a cat snuggle with me like she did, and all of the kids were ready to open their hearts to a new pet, so we started researching.
The last time we got a “new” pet was over 10 years ago so there are a lot of new products available to make things easier and a ton of new information we wanted to read. And of course, I wanted to share some of our favorites with you!
Must Haves for Bringing Home a New Cat or Kitten
Adopting a new pet is a huge commitment. They can require a lot of time, attention, and can be quite expensive.
Being properly prepared before getting a new cat can help you choose the right pet and prevent any surprise expenses.
You will need a safe way to transport your pet home and I highly recommend using a pet carrier secured in the car. A loose pet is in danger of being hurt (or worse) in an accident.
If you live somewhere prone to natural disasters, like earthquakes, tornadoes, or flooding, I highly recommend having at least 1 carrier per pet to contain & transport during an emergency.
We have hard carriers like this for when the tornado sirens go off & I use softer carriers that have crossbody straps for when I take multiple cats to the vet at the same time.
Food & Treats
Choosing the right food for your pets is extremely important. And the right choice for one is not necessarily the same for another pet in your house.
Treats are fun to give and are super useful for training (both cats & dogs!) so having a healthy treat that your pet actually likes is important.
I recommend researching the best foods for your pet's age, breed, and personal medical conditions. If you aren't sure, vets are normally more than willing to discuss options with you.
For treats, try out a few different options. We've actually only found 1 brand that BOTH of the boys will eat, so I'm hoping our new kitten likes them too!
When Shameless offered to send us some sample pet treats, I was pretty sure we'd be passing them on to one of my sisters, because the boys are so picky on treats that we had pretty much given up!
When we got the Catnip N Chill, I was excited. They both love catnip & even escaped a couple years ago to love up on my catnip plant, but they shocked me when they actually love all 3 flavours!
I've told everyone we know they have to try these with picky pets!
A couple of years ago, one of the boys had to have surgery for a urinary blockage. The vet hospital explained that it's actually common with indoor, neutered males.
To prevent it from happening again or happening to our other male cat, the vet recommended switching to wet food, using a water fountain, and adding broths to increase liquid intake.
Tiki Cat Broths are one of their favourites!
Elevated, shallow food bowls can reduce digestive issues and whisker distress in cats. If your cats are not food territorial, you can get a multi-dish set. If they are territorial or tend to be stressed while eating, separating their dishes or feeding at separate times can be helpful.
Pets tend to prefer running water, so a water fountain is a great way to help increase their water intake & reduce health risks.
A fountain also helps prevent bacteria growth & filters out hair and debris.
Losing a pet is absolutely heart-breaking, so we want to do everything we can to keep our pets healthy and around as long as possible.
Regular vet visits help, but there are many things you can do at home to extend the lifespan and quality of life for your pets!
Having 2 older cats, I was quite happy to hear about MYOS. Anything that helps with mobility is a plus in my book!
It uses Fortetropin, which has been shown to help improve mobility, enhance recovery from injury, and accelerate gains in muscle mass.
Safe Home test kits for domestic animals are designed for testing freshwater sources, such as but not limited to:
We are so picky about we will feed our pets but I'd never thought about having their water tested!
Flea and tick protection is so important, even for indoor-only cats. Fleas and ticks can cause diseases, make your pets very uncomfortable, and are definitely no fun for any humans allergic to flea bites.
I learned the hard way that while fleas don't live on people, we can bring them in & pass them onto our feline friends. And prevention is SO MUCH easier than treatment!
Stress isn't just bad for people - it can increase health risks in pets too!
If you have a pet that is prone to stress-related issues or are worrying about a long move, look into Rescue Remedy or another stress relief option for your pets.
Playtime & Exercise
For most pet owners, this is one of the most fun, rewarding, and yet challenging parts of having pets. We need to make sure they get enough exercise and are mentally stimulated. Just like little kids, a bored dog can get into quite a bit of trouble!
Nowadays there are SO MANY products designed to help your cat and dog stay active and engaged!
When we bring home a new pet, especially one that's been in a shelter, we are prone to go a little toy crazy. Since we already have cats, we didn't want to create any jealousy/resentment issues, so we may have already gone toy crazy & will introduce more when we bring the kitten home.
- Catit Senses toys are designed to encourage your cat to use sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing to stimulate their natural instincts indoors.
- The food tree is designed to be used with dry cat food or treats, has a steady base so they cannot tip over on themselves, and helps stimulate them to work for their food/treat.
This kitty castle features a spacious condo, two comfy top perches, and an extra-large basket hammock so your cat can stretch all the way out. When it’s time to play, the partially wrapped sisal posts help promote healthy nail scratching and encourage your feisty feline to get their exercise in.
There are even dangling balls and ropes for your cat to bat at to their furry heart's content! Each perch has a removable bolstered perch cover so your cat can rest their little head while they survey their kitty kingdom.
Having a comfortable place to sleep that is THEIRS helps pets feel more secure. While our cats tend to take over any piece of furniture in our house as the mood strikes them, we also have a couple cat beds & tents that are just for them.
This is probably my least favourite part of pet ownership.
Our boys both shed a ton! Brushing them is a daily chore, but we've found ways to make it more enjoyable for everyone!
Plus there are products like waterless shampoo and wipes that make it easier.
Grooming isn't just about hair care though! You've gotta deal with nails, ears, eye, and eyes!
I'm a huge fan of grooming gloves - you get to pet your cat/dog while removing excess hair!
HandsOn are different than any other gloves we've owned though! They have an adjustable wrist strap, to keep them nice & snug, which is important because they can be used for bathing too!
Perfect for the kitty cat that NEEDS a bath but isn't very polite with their claws once water is involved.
Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Shampoo cleans, conditions, moisturizes, and soothes itchy dry skin & coat, leaving your cat clean and soft.
Preparing Current Pets
Adding a new pet to an existing pet family can bring its own challenges. You cannot just bring a new dog or cat in and expect everything to go smoothly.
We read a LOT about the best ways to introduce a new cat & decided the new kitten would take over our office for a few days, as its own safe space, until they had a chance to smell each other out. Then gradually increase together time.
The new kitten won't be allowed in our bedroom initially, because that's where Binx & Ninja both like to sleep.
Comfort Zone diffusers release a drug-free vapor that mimics the natural soothing pheromones cats release, creating a calming environment. This helps make the area feel comfortable and familiar to your cat, which can also help reduce feelings of tension, stress, and conflict. This kit is specially designed for homes with multiple cat companions and is perfect to use when introducing a new kitty to the family.
We set these up when we started looking for a kitten and were pleasantly surprised about some changes in Ninja's behaviour that started after his escape a couple of years ago.
Depending on who you ask you should have 1 cat litter box per cat in your home. This can be a little tricky for smaller homes or just trying to get them to fit in with your existing furniture.
We have 1 per floor (3 in our home) and use different styles for different areas.
Corner boxes are great for a hallway area when it doesn't block traffic or for the corner of a room.
A self-cleaning box is great for any high-traffic areas and those with mobility issues that don't want to be manually scooping/dumping a box daily.
It's recommended that you offer an alternative, especially for skittish cats that may not want to use it if they realize it has moving parts.
A hooded/covered or top-entry litter box can help cut down on loose litter that escapes when your cat exits their bathroom. They also help with cats that require a little privacy & are great for open rooms in the house when you don't want to witness a cat doing it's business regularly.
We highly recommend adopting from a shelter or rescue group vs buying from a breeder. These organizations are often overcrowded and need help finding homes for their animals.
Shelter/rescue pets normally have already had their initial shots & normally fixed already, so remember to take that into account if some adoption fees seem a bit high.
If you buy/adopt from a local buy/sell/free group, make sure you get a copy of vet records BEFORE picking up your new pet to avoid any expensive surprises.
I personally do not support buying from breeders, because puppy mills are such a huge issue near me & the average family doesn't need a purebred anything. If you are buying a specific breed/type due to allergies, there are rescue groups for almost every cat & dog breed!
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