How to get your home ready for your first pet

Furry friend on the way? Here's how to prepare

4 minutes

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Cat or dog on the way? Congrats! Here's how to set up your home so the newest member of the family - and the house and contents - is safe from harm.

  • How to protect your floors from a dirty dog
  • Tips to keep cats away from the curtains
  • New gadgets to keep your pet out of mischief

Before your furry friend arrives, get your home ready

Getting a pet is a big decision, and there's lots to do, from planning schedules and shopping for essentials to getting your home ready for your new arrival.  Your preparations will largely depend on the age and breed of your cat or dog. Younger animals require more training, and will make more of a mess in the beginning, whereas older pets may already be house trained. Here are a few pointers to prepare your home, and some helpful tips for keeping curious puppies and kittens occupied. 


Curious cats


1. How to curtail curtain climbing 

Cats love to climb curtains and it’s hard to stop their natural climbing instincts,  but you can make it harder for them. Try using curtain rods or lightweight thread for curtain hooks, and the curtain will fall down when the cat starts to climb up it.

If you'd prefer to avoid re-hanging your curtains every hour, install vertical blinds instead, or try sensor–based cat repellent systems. These ward the cat off with a blast of compressed air if they wander too close.


2. How to save your furniture 

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 cat posts next to pieces of furniture your new cat might like scratching should encourage them to leave your upholstery alone. Your scratching post should be at least as tall as your cat when he's stood on his 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, which is rough and coarse.


 3. How to ensure safe exploring

If you want your cat to be able to go outside, consider installing a cat flap. Make sure your cat can reach it from inside and out, and 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 a call to the fire brigade to rescue your cat from a tree, try to keep upstairs windows closed, or add locks so that they can only be opened slightly.


Energetic dogs


1. How to stop your house getting smelly 

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 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 house trained) and take up any removable rugs from floors in rooms where your pet will be allowed to roam.


2. How to minimise floor mess 

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.


3. How to get your puppy to sleep through the night

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. Puppies crave routine, but it may take a few nights to get them in the swing of things. Try and Ignore them if they whine at night - paying attention to them can reinforce the behaviour. 


Preparing your home

Whichever animal you're bringing home, be prepared that they may cause 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 prevent heavier items toppling over, secure them to the floor or walls.  Damage caused by pets is not always included in home insurance policies, or even accidental damage clauses. Make sure you check the terms and conditions to see what's 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 available, 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 pet insurance for the new member of the family and microchip your dog - it’s a legal requirement. If you have an outdoor cat, it's also worth considering microchipping the animal.


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All content is approved by our in-house advisory board of experts.