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Norwich Bulletin - 12/18/2005

It's Christmas Again

Once again, the holidays are right around the corner and many people are thinking about a Christmas kitten or puppy for their children. It is very important that the adults realize that the children are not going to be taking care of the new pet – the children are going to be too involved with all their other presents and visitors during the holiday to pay a whole lot of attention to the new baby – and the baby is going to require lots of care, which in turn, requires lots of time – which all adds up to you, the parent as the caretaker.

Puppies and kittens need a lot of sleep. They need to be fed three to four times a day and puppies need to be walked – a lot. You can’t decide to wait on the training or leave a puppy crated during the holidays. The new pet deserves the proper care and supervision it needs right from the start. And Christmas Eve is not the time to start that.

I’m all for bringing a new pet home for the holidays. I’m just against doing it on the holiday. The best time is right now, a few weeks before Christmas – whether you choose to adopt from the Humane Society or a rescue organization, or you decide to buy that puppy from your local pet store (which I strongly advise against doing).

This allows the new companion animal to get settled in its space, to get to know the family and for you to get into the habit of taking care of a new baby. The other ideal time is right after Christmas (and what sales there are at the pet stores then). You can give all the pet supplies to your child from Santa – with a note from Santa that says he does not bring live animals on Christmas Eve because they would be too scared to fly on the sled – so he is giving you a gift certificate where a special puppy or kitten is waiting just for you.

The Humane Society has a number of wonderful cats and dogs that want to be chosen by a special child they will be able to call their own. You can go to any organization, fill out your paperwork, get approved, pay your adoption fee and bring your child the day after Christmas to help pick out the family’s new pet. How much better that your child will get to be a part of the choice!

I remember convincing a mom last year, to do this before Christmas, when I happened to have some kittens right around the holiday. She was so sure her child wanted a red tabby male kitten and I had one. I even put the kitten on hold and she came with her daughter the weekend before Christmas.

That mom was quite shocked when her ten year old daughter picked out a female pure white kitten and happily let me know this was exactly the kitten she had always wanted. You see, mom wanted the red tabby – but the best part of this paticular adoption was that two kittens went to a home that day – mom got what she wanted, and the little girl got her dream pet.

So, if you are getting a pet for your child, let your child be part of the whole adoption process. If you are getting the cat or dog you want, that’s okay – because, in the end, you are going to be the caregiver anyway. Just be honest with yourself and your children.

I have several kittens leaving for the holiday to go to their new homes. They are leaving on December 3rd so they will be comfortable in their new digs before the Christmas tree goes up. It will also give the family time to learn about the dangers of kittens (and puppies) and Christmas ornaments, tinsel, plants, etc. The reality of bringing a new pet home for the holiday is not at all similar to the book version where everything is perfect.

Too often unforeseen tragedy strikes and how sad for a child to lose their new friend. How do you explain that Santa would bring a pet as a present, only to allow it to become seriously ill or perhaps even die before the holiday is over? Better to be safe rather than sorry.

I have brought new pets into my own home for the holiday – I like nothing better than to adopt a homeless adult cat out of a kill shelter as a Christmas present to my husband, myself and the cat. Last year at this time I brought home our newest rescue Moose, from a shelter in New York City.

He is a large, older tuxedo cat who has said thank you to me in various ways, everyday for the past year. His love and loyalty were the perfect gift to my husband and I, and his new life was my gift to him. I definitely recommend you try it this year for yourself.

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