New Pet Owner

10 Things You Need to Bring a New Puppy or Kitten Home

10 Things You Need to Bring a New Puppy or Kitten Home

Just like bringing home a new baby, introducing a new pet into a household requires some planning and preparation. Follow the items on this checklist to help ease the transition for you and your precious new arrival.

  1. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian
    Making sure your pet is healthy should be your first priority. On his first visit, your veterinarian should identify any pre-existing conditions your animal may have, vaccinate against illness or disease, and insert a microchip. It's also the time to learn when your pet can be spayed or neutered. Not sure where to go? Search for a veterinarian in your zip code area.

  2. Choose a crate or carrier
    How will you transport the puppy or kitten home? If you're adopting from a shelter, they may provide a box with a top that can be closed. Otherwise, use a kennel to contain the pet, and line it with a towel or soft bedding.

  3. Purchase a collar and leash
    A cat or dog wearing a collar conveys that they belong to someone. And if you plan on taking your pet outside, a leash is essential. With a HomeAgain collar tag, you have extra protection if your new pet strays.

  4. Stock food and treats
    Your growing pet will be hungry, and good nutrition puts him or her on a healthy track. Ask your veterinarian for product recommendations. And head off behavior problems before they begin by never feeding your pet from the table where you and your family eat.

  5. Select water and food bowls
    Find a spot in your home where you can set out two bowls where your puppy or kitten can eat and drink undisturbed. Repurpose bowls from your own collection or get new ones; do make sure the lips are not too tall for a young one to reach or it might tip over.

  6. Acquire house training materials
    Your kitten will need a litter box filled with fresh litter and placed in an area where she can use it undisturbed. Start crate training your puppy with frequent trips outdoors to allow him to relieve himself. Those who adopt very young puppies may want to start them off using 'wee-wee pads'.

  7. Pick up specialized cleaning supplies
    Accidents happen. So have a good supply of paper towels and an enzymatic cleaner on hand to wipe them up. Never punish a puppy or kitten for messing up. They're still learning and want your praise when they do the right thing.

  8. Assemble bedding
    Having their own cozy bed helps a puppy or kitten feel more secure in a new home. A pet bed placed away from drafts will make your new pet warm and welcome.

  9. Pick up toys to entertain
    What youngster doesn't love toys? Playing with your new pet will help to strengthen the bonds between the two of you. Since puppies and kittens have baby teeth that fall out, choose toys that help with teething.

    • For puppies: Try Kongs or hard rubber toys, hard nylon or thick rope toys, or treat toys.
    • For kittens: Try small plush toys, small cottony or crinkly balls or even a shoe box to jump in!
    Additionally, kittens love to climb and use their claws. A scratching post, or better yet a scratching tree or tower, will allow your kitten to access their natural instincts. Plus it will help divert attention from your furniture.

  10. Set up a gate or barrier
    If there is any area in your home that you want to make off limits, you'll need to block your new pet from entering. But don't leave him there alone all day; he needs time to socialize and collect cuddles and kisses.

Susan Breslow is the former Head of Publications for the ASPCA and the author of the children's book "I Really Want a Dog." She writes about pets and people and cares for rescued cocker spaniels