Puppies And Kittens

Bringing a puppy or kitten into your life is certainly an exciting experience. What do you need to know about caring for puppies and kittens before you bring one home?

Kittens

By the time kittens are four to six months old they are old enough to be purchased from a breeder or adopted from an animal shelter. By this time they”re eating kitten food and using a litter box, and they know how to groom themselves. Because the immune system of a kitten is not as developed as an older cat”s, most pet health experts recommend keeping your new kitten isolated for about seven days after bringing him or her home. This is especially important if you already have one or more cats. Allow your new kitten to explore your home on his own, but ensure that he knows where his litter box, food and water are.

Puppies

While puppies as young as five weeks old are able to eat solid food and are learning about potty training, a puppy this age is not emotionally ready to be removed from her mother. Most puppy experts recommend purchasing or adopting a puppy who is eight to ten weeks old. Puppy-owner bonding is best between two and four months of age. This is the best time to socialize your puppy to get her used to the family, paper train her, take her to puppy training class, and teach her how to be a good canine citizen. A good way to immediately make your new puppy feel apart of the family is to include it in family festivities: if Halloween is just around the corner, dress your new puppy up in a dog Halloween costume and take it out trick-or-treating with the kids.”

Puppies and Kittens Who Are Too Young

Kittens should stay with their littermates and their mother until they are at least twelve weeks old; puppies should not be removed before eight weeks of age. Often animals are abandoned or brought to an animal shelter when they”re much younger than this. If you find an abandoned litter and you”ve never cared for young kittens or puppies, call or visit your local animal shelter for information. They may even be willing to care for the litter until the puppies or kittens have reached an adoptable age.

While shelters rarely adopt out an animal at this tender age, shelters are in need of volunteers to bottle feed and correctly socialize the babies to ensure their readiness for adoption. If you find a litter, consider donating your time to care for them under the direction of the shelter.

Kitten Care

From about three weeks to six months of age a kitten learns how to “be” a cat. Kittens who have been removed from their mothers don”t have a role model. A kitten who has been removed too early and doesn”t have the benefit of interacting with her mother or littermates may have difficulty with socialization as a cat. These kittens need to be held, petted and played with extensively during this critical developmental period.

Puppy Care

The same principle applies to young puppies. Puppies who have not been properly socialized often do not learn the “inhibited bite” nor do they learn how to play without becoming aggressive. They may also have difficulty interpreting signals later in life. The opportunity to learn these critical social behaviors is critical to puppies so that they may become well-behaved pets later in life.

If you”d like to help with abandoned puppies and kittens, contact your local animal shelter. You may decide that one of those you help raise should join your family.