• Discover how you can protect your floors from a dirty dog
  • Learn how to keep your cats away from the curtains
  • Get the right building and contents insurance for your need

There are lots of important things to consider before getting your first family pet. Start by scheduling a family meeting. Work out who will take the dog for a walk, and when? Who will feed the cat, how many times a day, and where? Which room will your pet stay in when you are out at work?

Your preparations will also depend on the age and breed of your cat or dog. Younger animals that are not trained tend to make more of a mess. Check out our article on choosing a cat to help you decide what feline friend would best suit your home. 

Curious cats

Cats love to climb curtains and it’s hard to stop them wanting to - but you can at least make it harder for them. Use curtain rods or lightweight thread for curtain hooks and the curtain will fall down when the cat starts to climb up it.

If you would prefer not to keep hanging your curtains back up, install vertical blinds instead, or try sensor–based cat repellent systems, which ward the cat off with a blast of compressed air if they wander too close.

Cats have an instinctive need to sharpen their claws – it's a form of exercise for the cat's muscles from the claws right through to the legs, shoulders and down the back.

Putting coir posts next to pieces of furniture that your new cat might like scratching should encourage them to leave your upholstery alone. Your scratching post should be at least as tall as the cat you have chosen when stood on its hind legs.

Ensure that the post is sturdy and cannot wobble when pressure is applied. Also, avoid anything fluffy: a cat's scratching post should be like tree bark, their natural scratching element: rough and coarse.

If you want your cat to be able to go outside, consider installing a cat flap. Make sure that your cat can reach it from inside and out, and that it doesn’t cause a security risk to your home by being within arm’s reach of a lock.

Cats love exploring, but once they climb up something, they can’t always work out how to get down. To avoid having to call the fire brigade to rescue your kitty from a tree, try to keep upstairs windows closed, or add locks so that they can only be opened slightly.

Energetic dogs

Every dog has its own distinctive smell, but it might not be a smell you and your family find particularly fragrant!

Unfortunately your house can also start to smell like dog if you don’t stay on top of it. Put plastic sheets or rugs on your furniture (especially if your pet isn’t housetrained) and take up any removable rugs from floors in rooms where your pet will be allowed to roam.

Newspapers or paper towels can absorb mess on wooden floors for a while. But a water-based coating will create a barrier to repel it permanently.

Sealants work on tile or concrete floors, but you can't permanently protect a laminate floor. It can’t be covered with any kind of coating or sealant, so put something on top of it that can be replaced when necessary.

Decide where you want your dog to sleep at night and establish this routine immediately. Try not to let your dog to sleep with you, in your room immediately.

They first need to get used to your sleeping routine. Ignore the pet if they whine or call out at night. Paying attention to them often encourages them to do it more.

Preparing your home

Whichever animal you are welcoming into your home, it is reasonable to expect that they could cause some unwanted damage. However, you can take some easy steps to protect your belongings.

First of all, put your valuables away, either in cupboards or behind glass-fronted display cabinets. If you want to protect heavier items then you can stick them to the floor or surfaces.

You should also encourage your cat to climb in appropriate places and put valuables higher up, out of your dog's reach.

Damage caused by pets is not always included in home insurance policies, or even accidental damage clauses. Make sure that you check the small print to see what is covered by your buildings and contents insurance.

Extended home insurance policies that do include pet damage usually cover breakages, spillages, chewing, scratching and general damage with their paws, teeth and claws – but you will be expected to take reasonable steps to keep your belongings out of harms way.

Keep your pet entertained

Bored pets are more likely to play up, so keep yours busy and engaged. There are all sorts of gadgets you can get these days, such as cat laptops and automatic tennis ball launchers. Stay tuned to @heart for the full article on awesome pet gadgets coming soon.

Finally, don't forget to get the right pet insurance for the new member of the family and microchip your dog as it’s a legal requirement now. If you have an outdoor cat, it is also worth considering microchipping the animal.