Whether you’ve decided to get a dog, cat or any other type of animal, great care should always be taken when introducing a new pet to your family and the home. This is especially the case if you already have established pets in the house. All the family must be prepared for the new arrival and know how to behave to make sure that the transition is as gentle and successful as possible.
Cats and dogs get to know their environment largely by scent, so it’s a good idea if you can bring some smells from your home to them before they get there. If possible, bring blankets or old clothes and swap these with their existing bedding. If there are familiar items, such as bedding or toys, waiting for them when they arrive in their new home, they will feel more comfortable. You can buy diffusers that fill your home with artificial pheromones; if you install an appropriate model a few days before your pet’s arrival, then this should make it less stressful for them.
Preparing your home
Cats like to have high places they can climb up to in order to feel safe and secure, so make sure these are accessible for them. Essential items that you’ll need to include are a litter tray, separate bowls for food and water, a scratching post and a few simple toys. You might want to put these in a safe room where your cat can get acclimatised before exploring the rest of the house. This is essential if you already have other pets; give your new cat their own space that the other animals can’t get into, at least until they get used to each other.
Dogs will also need water and food bowls, plus a few toys. You’ll need a lead so that you can take them out for walks and allow them to go to the toilet. Don’t forget to stock up on dog flea treatments and other essential medication.
Introducing them to children
When introducing your children to a new dog or cat, get the children to wait patiently for the animal to approach them rather than the other way round. If they rush up to the new animal hugging and touching it, then they may feel threatened and snap or scratch. Staring at an animal can also unnerve it. Sit at a distance holding out an open hand to be sniffed, or offer a small treat. If either the child or the animal becomes frightened or over-excited, then be ready to separate them.
Introducing them to other pets
Introduce dogs to each other by taking them on a walk together. Cats can get to know each other by scent swapping before the actual meeting. If you’re introducing a cat and a dog, keep the dog on a lead until they’re used to each other. The dog has to realise that the cat is not a plaything, and the cat has to realise that the dog isn’t a threat.
The important thing is to give your new pet time and space and plenty of love without overwhelming them. Respect their body language and set ground rules early, and your new pet should settle in perfectly.