It is not uncommon for people to give puppies, kittens, and other animals as Christmas presents, especially to children. Though it's a great idea and intention, this isn't the best time of year to try and deal with a new pet. There is a lot of chaos and confusion with people off work, family over for the holidays, and lots of new presents to distract people or pets. However, it's inevitable, and at this point has already happened to many. With that in mind, keep in mind some basic tips and hints.
New puppies and kittens need visits to the vet right away. Regardless of where you get them, it's important to have a vet check them over. Bring your records from the breeder or shelter so the vet can review the preventative care history up to this point. Despite great intentions, breeders don't always have the correct knowledge and practices. A vet can make sure that your new pet gets off to the right start. Parasites such as intestinal worms are common in puppies and kittens, and aren't immediately obvious. Your vet can check for these things and give appropriate treatment. You should also talk about flea and heartworm prevention as well as proper nutrition.
Just yesterday I saw two rabbits who had just been given as presents. The owner wasn't completely sure of the genders, and one had just given birth that morning. Even hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, lizards, birds, and other "exotic" pets need to have a veterinary visit after coming to a new home. You want to make sure you know how to care for them properly and screen for any obvious health problems.
During this time of year it's easy to get caught up in how busy things are, and in the enjoyment of a new pet. With everything else going on, the kitten or puppy (or other) can get unintentionally neglected, at least as far as health care. Nothing can be more important than a veterinary visit. I've seen many new pets in the last week, and everyone has questions about how to properly care for them. I know there are some people who haven't brought their new pets in for a visit, and hopefully they will soon. If that's one of you readers, make an appointment with your vet this week.