A new kitten can bring a great deal of pleasure and happiness into your life; they are playful, curious and mischievous, and you will get endless enjoyment from simply watching them bat a piece of balled-up newspaper around the floor.
If you are thinking of bringing a kitten home, you might buy one from a pet shop or from a friend whose cat has had a litter. But you could choose one from the many, many kittens for adoption through an animal charity.
People who adopt an animal report that they feel great satisfaction from knowing that they have given that animal a second chance at a happy life by providing it with a happy, stable home. There are always plenty of kittens for adoption, mainly because people do not spay or neuter their cats and the owners cannot cope with or afford to care for the resulting litter.
So if you are thinking of bringing home a kitten and feel that you can offer a good home to a kitten that is awaiting adoption, what sorts of things should you consider?
What to Know Before You Get a Kitten
- First, make sure that everyone in the house is happy to have a kitten (and cat, eventually!) as part of the family. If you have pets already in the house, consider whether they would welcome and mix well with the kitten. Check to see if anyone in the family has an allergy to cats or kittens (some people are fine with short-haired cats but suffer allergic reactions from long-haired cats): visit someone you know who has cats at least a couple of times to be sure. Plenty of cats and kittens end up in rescue centers or shelters because their owners have developed or discovered an allergy.
- Next, make sure that everyone (especially children) is aware that as the kitten has been in a rescue center, it might have had a difficult life so far and might be more timid or wary of people at first. Kittens will soon grow to realize that they are safe and cared for, but their true personality might take a while to emerge.
- If your kitten has been kept with siblings or the mother, take a towel with you when you go to collect her and gently stroke the kitten’s family with it so that you have something that smells familiar to take your kitten home with.
- Have everything ready such as a litter box and litter; a scratching post (if you value your furniture); and food and water bowls. (Note: Many cats and kittens do not like things touching their whiskers when they eat or drink, so if you have deep bowls you may find that they eat only the top layer — try serving their food on plates and their water in a shallow dish instead).
- If your kitten is long-haired, get her used to being groomed as early as possible, when the kitten feels safe and relaxed so that she will accept grooming later.
- Finally, introduce your kitten to the family by letting her stay in the carrier you have used to transport her until she feels safe enough to come out. If you have other cats in the house, keep your kitten confined to a room where the other cats can smell and see her but let them get used to her before letting her have the run of the house. Then enjoy getting to know your new kitten!
To search for adoptable kittens in the United States, try Petful’s pet search (look for the “Cats” tab and enter your ZIP code). International readers, if you are in England or Wales, you can adopt an animal by visiting the RSPCA website.
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This is a featured contribution by Claire, a new Londoner, travel enthusiast and animal lover. She blogs about pets and traveling in Europe. If you want Claire to write you specific content, you can contact her on Twitter (@Claire_Chat).