Congratulations! You have made the decision to add on to your family. Some say that there is no one who tells what you need- that is where we come in! Keep reading this series for guidance on choosing not only your pet, but help with training and choosing appropriate food and toys. Our first topic is how to choose between dogs, cats, and specific breeds.
Overall- cats are not small dogs. (what??) They have different needs in terms of exercise, food, and care. Cats are more “set and forget”– it is OK to leave even a small kitten in a room with minimal hazards, a litter box, and some food and water while you go to work. When they get older, they can be left for longer periods of time with an automatic timed feeder. Different breeds of cats do have different care needs- a longhaired cat such as a himalayan or persian needs regular brushing. If their hair gets matted, shaving by a groomer or veterinarian (under sedation) can help remove their mats. While most housecats fall in the categories of Short, Medium or Long Haired; there are specific breeds that are sought out- Bengal, Sphynx, and Ragdoll are just a few.
Here are many more dog breeds, and many considerations to make when choosing a breed. Do you want a dog that can run 6 miles a day (and will get very bored and destructive if he doesn’t get his daily run in)? Or a lazy dog that likes to cuddle on the couch? Doing research about the exercise needs is very important when choosing a breed. Grooming is also important- some pets just need a bath now and then, some need a full groom with haircut every 4 weeks. I have seen dogs that should have been groomed but weren’t develop mats that cut off the circulation in their legs.
Once you know what breed you want, finding a good, reputable breeder is just as important. Puppy Mills are unfortunately still in operation around the country. If you can, visit your breeder’s facility (or home, wherever they keep their dogs). Red flags include that they have multiple breeds, multiple females pregnant at one time, or if they do not allow site visits. Just because a breeder is USDA certified does NOT mean it isn’t a puppy mill.
I do want to mention a word of caution- most pet stores in Tulsa don’t sell puppies and kittens, but some may start. Some of these pets are purebred or mixed breed, and they are very expensive. The store offers financing, however remember- pets require ongoing care and come with continual costs. There are many rescues and shelters in the Tulsa, Broken Arrow, and Bixby areas that can help find an appropriate pet for your life.
Here is a link about Puppy Mills from the ASPCA. Please see the following blog posts on training, medical care, and alternative pets!