How to Pet Your Pet: 8 Books That Show Kids How to Treat Animals
by Jennifer Ridgway
After being without a pet for seven months, we recently decided to adopt a new rescue cat. We had two cats when our twins were born, but Tux passed before they were one, and Padiddle passed earlier this year. Our kids love animals, but I wanted to find books that explained, in kid-friendly language, what having a pet means, how our new cat, Larry, would (and would not) like to be treated, and what it means to take care of him.
If you are looking to adopt a new animal or just want to teach your kids about pets and pet care, below are some books to get you started. And don’t worry, I included animals other than cats!
What Pet Should I Get?
This new addition to the Dr. Seuss library shows how it can be difficult to choose a pet and make decisions. With Seuss’s signature fun rhymes and language, this is perfect for any child. It also includes a note about Seuss’s own pets.
Let’s Get a Pup! Said Kate
After Kate’s cat dies, she convinces her parents to get a dog. Graham’s book celebrates the idea of rescuing an animal and the idea that the pet chooses you, as Kate wants a puppy but falls in love with an older dog.
Dog Training for Kids
As dog-training advocate Vanessa Estrada-Marin writes, “Your loyal buddy is counting on you to teach them how to manage in your world.” What a wonderful way to reframe the concept of pet responsibility, right? This entertaining and accessible guidebook empowers kids to take over training, from the basics of leash manners all the way up to super-fun obstacle courses.
I Found A Kitty!
In this sweet sequel to Can I Be Your Dog?, Arfy happens upon a homeless kitten. Unfortunately, Scamper can’t live at Arfy’s house because Arfy’s person has a cat allergy, so Arfy embarks on another letter-writing campaign to find Scamper’s forever home. Finding the perfect match between pet and household is key — especially for the pet!
Who Wants a Tortoise?
A little girl who’s wanted a puppy for her whole entire life is gifted with a tortoise instead. For young readers who might be feeling underwhelmed by their pet options, this one proves that even the seemingly dullest pet can surprise you.Preorder from:
Our Very Own Dog
Adding a pup to the household is a big addition! With Our Very Own Dog, even the youngest readers can learn what to expect and how to chip in to make Fido feel at home.
When you welcome a new pet, you’re also welcoming a new and incredible connection. Talking Tails collects stories of real-life pets and their owners — including cats and dogs, rodents and reptiles, and even a parrot who lived to be 126! — and explores the science and heartwarming stories of those relationships.
Looking to add a four-legged member to your family? Consult these additional pet adoption resources for more information:
- The ASPCA, a nonprofit that has been preventing cruelty to animals since 1866, is a fantastic resource for your basic adoption questions. With tips on choosing the right animal and caring for new pets, the organization’s adoption site is a must-read before your family takes the next step.
- Petfinder is an online database of animals that need homes in North America. Families can easily search for all kinds of adoptable critters at shelters by zip code — including dogs, cats, rodents, and amphibians. Just make sure to set aside time to meet them all in person! (If you want to skip the online search and head straight to the shelter, Petfinder has an extensive list of local animal welfare groups here.)
- AdoptAPet is another online pet adoption database that you can cross-reference with Petfinder in the search for available shelter animals.
- More mobile-inclined? Then try WeRescue – Adopt a Pet, an app that connects you with cute pups that need a home. Download the app in the iTunes store here.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2020.