Kittens or puppies need over 10 years of care, attention

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 12:00am

Anyone who wants a kitten or puppy for Christmas must be absolutely clear about one thing. It will not be a toy.

A toy is easy to look after - it stays the same size. But a puppy will grow, and if it is a mongrel you may have no idea when it will stop! The SPCA has had many puppies handed in after only a few months because they 'grew too big'.

A toy does not get tired. If it has wheels it can be pulled around for hours. If it has batteries, they can be replaced when necessary. A puppy or a kitten is a baby. It needs to sleep a lot, and cannot keep up with an owner who wants to play with it all the time. We often see young owners coming into our centre with a puppy on lead.

They love their pup, but until our staff explain, they cannot see anything wrong with running around towing the puppy after them. When the poor little thing flops down for a rest, it is tugged back on to its feet again.

You can get dolls which cry and go to the toilet, but it will only do so when you want it to. A young animal taken away from its mother and litter mates will cry and probably keep you and the family awake. You cannot just switch it off, but must comfort it and help it accept its new adult lifestyle. When it wants to go to the toilet, it will not ask first, but quite likely to make a mess on the floor. You must clean up that mess and have the patience to train the animal to ask to go out or use a litter tray.

If it is a horrible wet day, you cannot put a puppy in the cupboard and exchange it for an indoor toy until the weather gets better. That pup will need regular exercise rain or shine.

If a toy breaks, it can be fixed. If your pet gets sick, it must be seen by a vet and fees can be expensive. To avoid your kitten or pup catching disease you must have it fully vaccinated.

A cuddly toy demands nothing. You can kick it when you are angry and not think about it for days at a time.

If you treat a living animal like that you will at the very least hurt it and at worst kill it!

When you are 20, you will not be expected to have a toy you were given for Christmas when you were 10. But if you were given a puppy or kitten you must be prepared to look after it for at least 12 or 15 years. And what will happen to it when you start work or go to college, or if your family leaves Hong Kong?

Animals are fun but they demand a lot. Around Christmas there will be lots of cute puppies and kittens being offered as presents, and our SPCA would love to see them all find good homes. But if you are in any doubt about being able to give them 100 per cent love and attention for the whole of their life, walk past that pet-store and choose a toy instead.

The SPCA is an organisation that deals with animal welfare. It aims to prevent and suppress cruelty to animals. The organisation welcomes pet owners and non-pet owners to show their concern for homeless animals. If you would like to join or find out more about the SPCA, call the membership department on 2802-0501