5 Things You Should Know When Buying a New Puppy or Kitten

Yellow Lab PuppiesBuying a new puppy or kitten is a process that should be undertaken with care and consideration, as you are potentially buying an animal that you will have for the next ten-to- fifteen years.  Below is a list of five tips to help you select the perfect pet.

Puppy Mill Housing

1.  Never buy a puppy or a kitten from a pet store. You should never buy any animal beyond a fish or a rodent from a pet store.  In most cases, specialty stores provide better quality animals.  For puppies and kittens, pet stores usually get them from puppy or kitten mills.  These are basically what they sound like, places that exist to churn out large numbers of puppies or kittens for profit.  The breeding animals are usually kept in tiny cages and inhumane conditions, and their litters are often taken away from their mothers too early.  Puppy and kitten mills are inherently cruel to the animals in them.  Apart from not wanting to support animal abuse, puppies and kittens bred in puppy mills often have serious behavioral or physical problems as a result of the conditions under which they were reared.  The only exception to buying a kitten or a puppy from a pet store involves cases in which an animal shelter is displaying animals at a pet store.  If this is the case, it will be clearly marked that these animals come from a shelter, and there may be a limited number hours during which people are able to adopt them.

2.  When buying a puppy or kitten, make sure that the mother is on the premises. Unscrupulous breeders will A Litter of Kittenssometimes get puppies or kittens from breeding mills and pretend to have bred the animals themselves.  Always ask to see the mother.  If the mother is not on site, you’re probably best going elsewhere, particularly if the little ones are younger than eight weeks old.  Puppies and kittens should not be taken away from their mother before this point.  Extra points if the father is on site as well, but that’s less common, particularly if you’re using a breeder who breeds show animals as well as pets.  (Not all animals will be of show quality—ie. adhering to breed quality standards—so breeders will often differentiate between “show” and “pet” quality animals.  The “pet” quality animals will be substantially cheaper.  This is actually a really good place to get a puppy or a kitten, since you know exactly what you’re getting.)

3.  Be aware of what you’re getting. For dogs in particular, breeds often have different temperaments.  Don’t get a high energy breed of dog if you live in a small apartment and won’t have time to take your pet to the dog park in order to burn off excess energy.  Bored and restless animals frequently become destructive and unruly.  Set your pet up for success, not failure.  Some breeds (this applies to both dogs and cats) are also hypoallergenic, while others are not.  With a mutt, it’s a little harder to know what you’re getting until you’ve already gotten it.  Particularly in the case of mutts that are a mixture of only two breeds of dog, the traits from one breed usually win out.  Don’t get a Chihuahua-Jack Russell mix if you want a low-energy small dog, as you may end up with an extremely fast and energetic puppy.

Two Barking Dogs4.  Be careful when adopting an older animal from a shelter. To be clear, I am not against adopting animals from a shelter.  In many cases, it’s an admirable thing to do, and it can also be a relatively inexpensive way to get a new pet.  If you’re adopting an older animal, it may have preexisting behavioral problems.  Know exactly what you’re getting into, and don’t sign on for anything that you can’t handle.  Shelters are usually pretty upfront about their animals’ undesirable behaviors, as the last thing that they want is to have an adopted animal dumped back on their doorstep two days later.

5.  Think carefully about your decision before going to view the animals. Many hearts have melted at the sight of a cute little puppy or kitten, and people have them purchased an animal on impulse that they are then unable to care for, much to the detriment of the animal involved.  Consider your decision carefully beforehand, and be certain that you (as well as anyone else relevant—your partner/spouse, any potential children, a landlord, ect.) are prepared to handle the responsibilities and annoyances of having a pet.  (I love my dog, but sometimes she’s just downright irritating—like when she wants to play at 2 AM, or when she chews a hole in the bedspread.  Realize that your pet isn’t going to be perfect, and will probably destroy a few of your things.  I have found the situation to be worth it in the end, but I have come to the conclusion that puppies are something you endure in order to get a dog.)

A Puppy and a Kitten Sleeping Together

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