By: Robin Desmet – Dec. 2018
Who wouldn’t want to wake up on Christmas morning to find that Santa had gotten them a fluffy kitten as a Christmas gift? As appealing as this may sound to many of you, it actually may not be the best idea. The holidays are a special time of year, filled with fun, excitement, and magic. Part of the enjoyment of the season is giving gifts to our loved ones that we have thoughtfully selected and that we anticipate will bring them joy and happiness. But giving an animal as a gift can be problematic.
They don’t call it “The busy time of year” for nothing. Around the holidays, commitments abound. There is shopping to be done and gifts to wrap. Friends and relatives are coming and going all month long. There are parties to attend and concerts to enjoy.
The month of December is a whirlwind of decorating, shopping, friends, family, and events. It is a fun time of year, but with everything going on, introducing a new pet into the mix can get complicated.
The noise, the confusion, and the lack of consistency will make your new pet will feel stressed and anxious. Even if the kids really want a new furry friend as a gift, it may be better to wait until after the holidays to actually bring your new family member home. Opening up gifts on Christmas morning is fun, but for an animal that is new to the house, the chaos and confusion can be overwhelming.
Introducing new pets to pets you already own can be a challenge around the holidays. These introductions are best done in a slow and controlled manner so that resident pets and new pets have time to get used to each other. You are going to want to bond with your new pet, as well as give your old pets the proper love and attention they deserve. You will need to be home to supervise the introduction of any new pet to your current pets, and to watch how they interact. None of these things should be rushed. All of this can be difficult to achieve when your schedule is loaded with commitments and you are rushing around trying to get all of the shopping and wrapping done.
The house at the holidays can be fraught with danger for new pets. Electric cords, poisonous plants, and candles can all spell disaster. Decorations, ribbons, and tinsel all pose threats to curious pets. You may find your carefully placed decorations unexpectedly strewn all over the house or your tree toppled to the ground. When bringing home new pets at the holidays I would suggest decorating the tree only with unbreakable ornaments. Nix the Amaryllis and the Holly Berries and no string, ribbons, or bows on any presents. Your resident cats may be used to the holiday decorations, but new, young pets are both active and curious.
Prevention is the best way to avoid disaster.
So, enjoy the holidays, but by all means do not surprise anyone with a pet they did not specifically want. Animal given as “gifts” often end up in animal shelters in January. Have fun this holiday season and keep things safe and enjoyable for your family, friends, and pets.
Robin Desmet, Rph and MSPCA Volunteer ◊