A kitten for Christmas? It’s on your child’s Christmas list and she’s been talking about it nonstop. Here’s what you need to know before granting her wish. Or satisfying your own desire for a sweet furry companion.
Without a doubt, kittens become integral parts of a family. They help teach a child about responsibility and provide an incredible amount of warmth and companionship.
So what’s the best way to bring a pet into the family or give one as a gift?
The time to prepare is before the kitty joins the family, especially during the holidays. Because cats are typically more reserved when joining a household and the busy holidays are not the norm, you’ll need to do some homework.
Also Read: The Complete Guide to Bottle Feeding Kittens
Share my new book, “The Art of Raising a Kitten,” with your child in preparation for the new arrival. “The Art of Raising a Kitten” takes you through kitten development week by week, stressing the importance of socialization, nutrition, and maintaining good health.
Socialization is key to a successful adoption, whether is a shelter or a purebred kitty.
If you’re looking for a purebred cat, there’s all the information you need to find a responsible breeder.
With a focus on the kinder and gentler aspect of integrative care, the book explores choices based on the lifestyle of the kitten. For instance, the number and frequency of vaccinations depends on that lifestyle – inside vs. outside and likelihood of exposure – rather than rote determination. The importance of quality nutrition is also discussed, along with health challenges that may be encountered.
Too often pets who are purchased impulsively may react inappropriately to the stress of the new environment and may face relinquishment. Some shelters place a pause on adoptions to head off that possibility.
In preparation, you’ll probably have to fill out an application and get pre-approved. Think about volunteering if you have no experience with cats.
Do visit the shelter before adopting to learn about the different personalities of the cats there and discuss which ones might be a good match for your family. Try to learn something about the cat’s background. A timid cat used to a quiet lifestyle will may not fit into a busy household. Better yet, look for a kitty who is more outgoing. A bonded pair might be a good idea for two kids or if the cats will be alone all day. (Keep in mind there may be fewer kittens once winter sets in.)
Do not make the mistake of picking up the kitten just as you expect a house full of company and with decorations that may be ingested or damaged. The excitement is not conducive to a calm integration into the household.
Discuss the proper way to pet and pick up the kitty. It’s never too soon to learn about the kitty’s body language: what it means when the ears are back, when the eyes are dilated, the tail starts swishing. Bites and scratches are too often caused by the impulsive behavior of a child who hasn’t learned the right way to approach an animal. Assure your child that it’s all right if she just sits near the kitty, rather than being carried around, especially in the beginning.
Speaking of health, do some test visits with friends who have cats to make sure your child is not allergic to cats – allergies are a common reason for relinquishment. Get some recommendations for veterinarians before an emergency arises; think about scheduling an appointment shortly after arrival to set a baseline for care, including spaying or neutering (if not already done) and any follow-up vaccinations.
Now go shopping for your kitty. This is the fun part! Buy a comfy bed, carrier, scratching posts (more than one!), collar, litter box and litter, leash and harness if you plan on taking her outside, toys – everything you need to make your new family member feel welcome.
Once you’ve decided on the lucky kitty, it’s homecoming. Be sure to prepare a quiet area – a bedroom or spare bathroom – where she can gradually get used to her new home. You might want to use a Feliway plug-in or flower essences to help reduce stress, and plan on keeping a radio on playing soothing music.
Maybe all of this planning will take away the “gift” or “surprise” aspect of adopting a cat. But shelters and the streets are full of unwanted souls. Pets are living, breathing creatures who require a long-term commitment to their care. With proper preparation, adding a new kitty to your family will make it the best holiday ever.
Also Read: The 71 Best Gifts For Cat Lovers