Paws for Thought On the First Steps to Pet Ownership

Choosing a puppy or kitten is the first big step in both the owner’s and pet’s life. To encourage responsible owners to protect their pets, MORE TH>N pet insurance is now offering 12 months pet insurance cover for the price of ten for any of its four products* until May 3rd for new customers with puppies or kittens**.

Choosing pet insurance is just one decision that many new responsible pet owners face in taking on a new puppy or kitten. The size of your home, other family members, other pets and your lifestyle should be key decision factors in choosing a new pet.

Which puppy should I choose?

Dogs are pack animals which actively crave human attention and company. There is no species on the planet more diverse than dogs, from the smallest Chihuahua to the mightiest Great Dane. So while all puppies are tiny – dogs are obviously not. Their fully grown size impacts the cost of feeding and their lifespan – but ten years is a fair average.

Choosing the right size dog for your budget, home and your family now and a decade into your future is fundamental.

Pedigrees have known characteristics – including potential health conditions and known temperaments. The right temperament is essential – particularly for good family dogs. Crossbreeds tend to be hardier dogs, prone to less inherited conditions.

Breed will also be an indicator of how much exercise your dog will need. All dogs need daily exercise – you need to match the dog’s needs to your lifestyle, as lack of the right amount of exercise can lead to frustration in the dog and potentially destructive behaviour as they seek to vent pent up energy.

Coat length and whether a dog moults or not are also key considerations for your lifestyle and home.

Unlike kittens with a litter tray, puppies need to be house trained – for this reason alone, you may wish to choose to get your puppy when the weather is more clement – as you will be spending considerable time in the early weeks outside encouraging your puppy to go!

Which kitten should I choose?

Cats are much more independent and self-sufficient than dogs with an average lifespan of 15 years. While cats eat less than dogs, they can be very fussy eaters which can be expensive and there are regular costs for cat litter and trays.

How friendly a cat is can be greatly determined by its first few weeks of life. If possible ask to meet the mother – if she is friendly, her kittens are likely to be.

Like dogs, breed can be an indicator of personality or certain behaviours – Siamese cats for example are known for their talkative nature and some breeds are quite demanding of attention.

Some cats require more grooming care than others. A Persian, for example, will need daily grooming. However, lack of a coat does not mean the kitten will necessarily be easier to care for – some of the Rex breeds and the hairless breeds such as the Sphynx need a lot of time and effort spent on keeping their skin clean.

Andrew Moore BVM&S MRCVS, pet claims veterinary consultant, MORE TH>N: “Owning a dog or cat can be a wonderful addition to your family as they offer unconditional love and companionship.

“However, responsible pet owners when buying or re-homing a pet also need to think about the size and breed they choose and any financial or lifestyle implications. All owners will need to meet the cost of routine treatments such as neutering, vaccination, flea and worming treatments and these will be needed throughout your pet’s life along with regular health check-ups.

“There is no NHS for pets, so owners should try and buy the best pet insurance cover they can afford – especially in the first year of an animal’s life, when so much is unknown. Although insurance does not cover routine treatments, it can help cover the bills for accident or illness depending on the level of cover you choose. Last but not least, do not forget to buy good quality diet – this can really contribute to the wellbeing of our cat or dog. “

Polly has almost 20 years in the media industry. As Editor of Andover and Villages, she strives to bring the latest and greatest news with a minutes notice. Polly can be contacted via or alternatively called at