By Erica Rodgers
A new addition to your family could mean a baby or a pet. Even if you are to arrive with a pet, pack a bag for the day you get to bring your new furry, scaly, slimy animal home. Whether old or new, big or small there are a few ways to acquire a new pet. Adopting from a shelter is a very popular choice. Also, purchasing from a breeder that you have found online or through a referral. Another way is relocation to or from a friend or family member. Of course, nothing tops the stories of when a tired old cat refuses to leave your porch. If you know you are getting a new family member from the animal kingdom, read on to find out how to make it an easy transition within your home.
Living with an animal can be kind of like living with a Sour Patch Kid candy. First, they are sour and then they are sweet. Whether cherub or geezer, our pets have moods just like us and usually don’t have the etiquette we do. I don’t normally see people chewing on shoes as a past time, so being prepared for critters is crucial.
Recently, my son and I adopted a kitten from a nearby shelter. Call us over-prepared because we had been planning this since July, and brought Al home in December. I have never owned a cat for the long-term. My other attempts at being a pet owner ended in passing him on to another family member because I wasn’t prepared. Albeit, the cat was a surprise gift. So, I wanted to be sure we were prepared both mentally and physically for our new kitten. We got all of our supplies months in advance and looked online for good pet insurances. Visited two shelters beforehand and rubbed the kitties all over my son’s face to be sure he wasn’t allergic. He wasn’t. Then we waited for our Praying Mantis, Coconut, to kick the bucket. I didn’t even want to own two pets at once. Once Coconut had eaten her last cricket, I mustered up the courage and we headed out the door with the kitty carrying case in hand.
We visited the two shelters again and was even tempted to get a cat instead of a kitten, but on second thought we would have to get other supplies and we had already prepared for a kitten. So, a kitten we bought. Aladdin is his full name, but we call him Al. He also has the nicknames of Pickles, Alice, Owl, and Kevin. We are set on Al, but Kevin is a close second. The ride home was great, he had a nice cozy blanket in his carrying case and fell asleep on the ride home. I hear that kittens can be pretty easy to train, but I also think it was helpful that I already knew exactly which room he would be spending the majority of his first week in. I had chosen the bathroom and had the litter box and food bowls in there for months. I was hoping to remind my son how important it is to prepare for a new addition to the family and that there are certain steps to take. Also, to instill some patience in him. Al only made one accident, and that was because I should have kept him in the bathroom for a bit longer so he could remember where the litter box was. All in all, there were no other accidents and to this day he is very well mannered, at least while I am home. Good thing I work from home.
If you are thinking of getting a new family member of the animal species, here are a few questions to ponder on before:
What pet is right for you and your family? This is so important. You may want a pony but live in a second-story apartment, I don’t know how the first-floor dwellers will like you if you decide to get Paul the pony. Thinking about the size, energy level, how you will spend your time with your new best friend, cost (initial and monthly) and of course what animal do you most connect with? Some people think they want a goldfish, but on further examination, they might find that a pair of Zebra Finches would be a perfect extension of the family. Our little family thought about getting a turtle, but I researched and found that the water bill might be higher than I’d like and I don’t actually have a good space for a turtle tank. Keep in mind which type of pet would mesh well into your family. You don’t have to nix the pony idea forever… but if you are set on getting a pet now, get one that fits in.
Do you have another animal best friend to think about? Does Tigger the cat hiss at anything that moves? What about Iggy the iguana? Does he really enjoy walking around your house while you relax and watch T.V.? Adding another cat or animal to the mix could create lots of tension or something even worse. Our pets are our family, so they need to be considered when thinking of adding another stick figure sticker to our minivan.
What can you learn about the type of pet you are getting? Every animal has its own personality, but their basic needs are usually the same. Some things to research on would be the type of environment your animal will need (ie warmer or cooler climate), training ideas, what to expect at different ages, how to clip their nails or clean their enclosure, what type of food they are allergic to and so on. Start by just Googling! You could even try Pinterest for some good ideas.
What are the basic items you need and what are some things that you can get to make them feel at home? If you are getting a Pacman Frog you may need to get some moss, UVB lighting, and some crickets. If you really want to make your new frog comfortable, get some appropriate plants and a nice hideaway place. Don’t forget about the items that it will take to bring them home. Just think, if you were them what would make you feel good on your way home and throughout the day. Be sure to get the supplies ahead of time so that you can rest easy and just enjoy your new friend from the moment you bring them home.
Where will your critter live? Just like I realized I didn’t actually have a good spot for a turtle tank, thinking spatially where they will be taking up space is a key point. Do they need both indoor and outdoor space? A dog could spend equal amounts of time inside and outside and need areas just for them in both. For instance, a dog bed/kennel inside and an area to relieve themselves outside. Or maybe even an area to run and play. I have a friend who has a great Great Dane. He is an awesome dog who loves to play… for 10 minutes. So, Duke doesn’t need a ton of space. He is almost like a cat, even though he is about 20 times bigger. If you are getting a cat then most likely the furry fuzzball will be king or queen of the house while you are away. Not leaving cups of water by your laptop or poisonous plants left in nibbling distance is another thing to keep in mind. We all take up space in the home and the yard/outside area, and so does your pet. Make room for your new roomie.
An animal is still an animal, so who will be taking care of them? Yes, they are our best friends, but they are also still wild at heart. While most of our pets wouldn’t last too long out in the big world without us, they still are a bit feral sometimes. They also do not have the right appendages to open drawers for their food. If you decide to take on a pet, be sure to know who will be feeding, grooming and exercising them. My son loves feeding our kitten. Even 5-year old humans, the animals that they are, can help take care of them. Hitting two birds with one stone (bad reference): feeding the kitten and teaching a child how to care for another. Not only does the animal need to be taken care of at home on a regular basis, but also for emergencies or checkups. Be sure to look into Veterinarians for your specific animal and offices that are within a decent proximity to you. Find out the hours and if they can do same-day appointments. Just as we have emergencies, so do our animals.
Where will you get your new friend from? Wherever you decide to get Mr. Tiggles, be sure to do a bit of research in this department. I went to two shelters and while one was very close to my home, I trusted my gut and decided to try the farther shelter. This led us to find our perfect kitten, Al. Even when we were given a chance to cuddle a few of the other kittens, we used our gut to choose Al. I did figure that the kittens would be tired of being passed around or just a little scared, and some of them were. But Al was just so relaxed, which is exactly what our little family needed. Instead of settling on a kitten that could have been great, we waited until we found the right fit. If you are getting an animal from a breeder, be sure to ask any and all questions. Again, trust your gut. Unfortunately, not everyone in this world is truthful, so be sure and do your research and get referrals if you can.
Pets are such wonderful additions to our family. Here I am sitting at my computer and I can hear Al having a blast with a little fluff ball toy. If he weren’t here there would be less joy. Animals can have a huge effect on our lives, so we should take the time and plan for them as best we can.
Jean, Founder, Home Organizer and Productivity Coach of Seattle Sparkle has helped many families get organized and prepared for a new furry or scaly or whatever type of pet. She not only loves meeting new pets at Home Organizing sessions but also enjoys her pup, Maisy.
Are you thinking of adding another family member of the animal kingdom? What are some things that you like to get to help prepare? Let’s talk about it at our FB Group Declutter and Organize with Seattle Sparkle.
Thanks for reading!
Photo Credit: Ramiz Dedakovic