If you are a keen reader of our blog, you will know that the lovely Polly is very much part of our family and is still going strong at 14 years old. Having her as part of our lives is a complete joy, and anytime someone tells me they are thinking of giving a kitten their forever home, I can't help but get excited for them. If you are thinking about opening your doors and heart to a fuzzy ball of feline energy and bringing a kitten into your family there are 4 things you need to know.
If you are thinking about opening your doors and heart to a fuzzy ball of feline energy, there are 4 things you need to know.
Nutrition is key
Giving your newfound friend a good start in life is about more than just kisses and cuddles, pets and playtime. A good diet right from the beginning is vitally important to help your little one grow big and strong.
Kittens under 8 weeks will mostly or exclusively drink their mum's milk and should still live with her. Kittens less than 8 weeks old that can't feed on their mum will require specialist help, and you should talk to your vet about how best to support them during this early stage.
Kittens that are older than 8 weeks will be able to eat solid food, but you will need specially formulated kitten food that has a higher protein and fat content than food for adult cats. It takes a lot of energy to grow, so don't be surprised when you find out your tiny KitKat has a larger than life appetite.
Shelter not shop
We got Polly and her sister Amber, who sadly passed away this year, from a local shelter. They were part of an unwanted litter, and I am so grateful that we could give them a home.
Unwanted litters are all too common and shelters are usually always looking for good homes for these cuties. It may seem easier to simply buy a kitten from a breeder, especially as many shelters can have strict requirements for potential adopters. However, if you do rescue a kitten from a shelter, you can be sure that they have had all the necessary health checks (some shelters will even pay for them to be spayed/neutered when the time is right).
If you have your heart set on a purebred kitten, make sure to research the breeder in advance to ensure they take good care of their animals. Ask local vets for recommendations and ensure your kitten is old enough to leave their family.
You will need to kitten-proof your home
Kittens and toddlers have a lot in common:
- They are hard to reason with
- They are insanely curious
- They have a magic skill of getting into places they shouldn't
- The more dangerous an item, the more they want to play with it
Just like with a toddler, you must ensure your home is safe for your kitten. The good news is that a lot of the toddler proofing you do will help keep your kitten safe too. The bad news? Kittens are small and wriggly and can get into places your toddler can only dream off. Behind the fridge, below the floorboards, and between the kitchen units, to name just a few, are all prime hiding spaces for curious kitties. Before you bring them home, block off and fill in small gaps that could prove tempting for your new family member.
Kittens should be kept indoors till they get their first round of vaccinations, usually around the 13-14 week mark. If you like to leave windows or outside doors open, consider getting screens that will let air in but not let a kitten out.
Kids and kittens need supervision
Studies show that children who grow up with pets benefit from higher emotional intelligence. Pets also help kids with social skills and can even increase verbal skills in some cases. These are great reasons for bringing a kitten into your family. However, pets and children need supervision to grow a lifetime of friendship.
Very young children can easily injure a small animal, so special attention must be given to teaching your wee ones how to hold and pet the new family friend. When bringing a kitten into your family, all members of your family also need to understand that a kitten is going to behave differently from an adult cat. They may not be as tolerant as a more experienced cat and are more likely to scratch or bite.
More importantly, what kittens learn when they are young can easily become lifelong habits. Teaching children the right way to play with their kitten is very important. Hands and feet are not toys, and what is cute in a 10-week-old kitten becomes much more painful and problematic in a fully grown cat.
While these four things might seem a little daunting, considering them before bringing your new pal home will set you up for a lifetime of fun together. Bringing home Amber and Polly as kittens was one of the best things we ever did. If, after reading this, you are concerned that a kitten might not be the best fit for your family, consider adopting an older cat. Grown-up kitties have just as much love to give.
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