Start of Kitten Season: What Does Getting a Kitten Entail
So you think you want a kitten? We get it. Who hasn’t melted before at the sight of a purr-irisistable little furball? If you are thinking of welcoming a (new) cat into your home this year, right meow might be the purrfect time! The months of April and May are the peak of breeding season for cats. This is because the onset of heat in females depends on the amount of daylight. As the days get longer in February and March, more cats breed, thus more kittens are born. Since the estrous cycle in cats can last for about 2 months, thousands of kittens are born every year in April and May, hence the term “kitten season”! But before you go ahead and bring home your fluffy new bestie, it is important to know what you’re getting yourself into. In this article, we will discuss the ins and outs of being a kitten parent. What to know beforehand, and how to handle the arrival of your new kitty as smoothly as pawssible.
Are you ready for the responsibility of a (new) cat?
On average, a cat can live anywhere from 12 to 16 years. Owning a kitten is therefore a big commitment. During kitten season especially is when people tend to adopt kittens that they later rehome once they reach adulthood. In order to avoid this sad situation, it is crucial to ask yourself a few questions before deciding to adopt a kitten. Firstly, is your whole family on board? Does your lifestyle allow you to devote enough time to a new cat every day? Are you prepared to deal with training your kitten (yes, it is a thing) and to shoulder the financial cost of cat ownership throughout their life? These are the hard-hitting questions you should be able to answer before deciding to bring home a new kitten.
How to choose the right cat for you?
The choice of your new pet is important. There are a few things you should take into consideration before picking your furry, new best friend. While the gender of the kitten doesn't make much difference to his or her future care, the breed certainly does. Most European shorthair cats do not require special daily care. Other cats, however, such as Persians, are more demanding. They often need daily brushing and eye cleaning, which can be pretty time-consuming. When choosing your kitten, it is also important to consider their age. It is recommended that kittens live with their mother and siblings until they reach at least 10 to 12 weeks old, whenever possible. This is a crucial stage in their life since it allows them to grow and develop properly. It is during that time that they learn how to socialize with other cats, how to groom themselves, and basically learn “how to cat”. Kittens also really benefit from being around other cats beyond the first 10 to 12 weeks of their lives! It will come as no surprise that kittens have a lot of energy, and having another kitty friend for them to play with not only helps direct all that kitten-energy into a positive outlet (play with another cat, rather than destroying your curtains, for example), yet it also aids in their development and temperament as they continue to grow from a kitten to an adult. So, if you’re thinking of getting a kitten, you may consider adopting two (unless you already have a resident kitty at home whom they can play with).
How to prepare for your new kitty’s arrival?
So you have taken into account all the factors, and you’ve decided to get a kitten. Meowvelous! It is now time to prepare your home for your new fluffy baby. Before picking up your kitten, remember to gather some essential items:
- Kitten-appropriate food
- A litter box
- Two bowls, one for food and one for water
- A comfortable bed (this could even be a soft blanket in a cardboard box)
Next, you should prepare your kitten’s new quarters. It is important to keep each area separate. We don't sleep where we eat, and we don't eat where we relieve ourselves. The same goes for cats! The "litter box" area should be as far away as possible from their feeding area. Now it is time to cat-proof the house. Secure the windows and any doors that give access to the outside world and hide away electric wires. Also make sure to get rid of any poisonous household items, foods, or plants. When your kitten arrives, try to keep a calm energy and do not rush them. Let them explore their new grounds at their own pace. Allow your kitten to sniff around. You can even provide access to higher spots, so that he or she can observe from up high all while feeling safe. A cat tree, shelves or a window hammock are great choices.
Kitten healthcare 101
To make sure your new kitten is in good health, bring them in for a general check-up. Your veterinarian will advise you about deworming (the majority of kittens are carriers of intestinal worms) and necessary vaccinations. Finally, remember to sterilize your kitty once they become 6 months old. Not only will this prevent pregnancy, but if they are in contact with other cats, this will also reduce their risk of contracting FIV (a.k.a. cat AIDS) for which there is no vaccine. In addition, spaying offers protection against the rarer mammary tumors or uterine infections that your cat may suffer from later in life, when they’re an adult.
Should you go for a kitten or an adult cat?
Kitten season is usually when most people decide to adopt these irresistible fluff balls. However, adopting a kitten comes with great responsibility. They require a lot of time, energy and resources, and you will need to plan on caring for them for the next 12 to 16 years or more. So, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. When considering adopting a cat, the vast majority of people tend to go for kittens. However, animal shelters are filled with adult cats who are desperately looking to find their furever families. If age isn’t an important criterion for you, why not adopt an older fellow or lady? Sadly, it is very common for cats to be abandoned or rehomed once they are no longer kittens. By adopting an adult cat from a shelter you are also freeing up space for another stray cat! Whatever your choice, Meowtel cat sitters are here to bring you the purrfect hospitality so that you and your new little furball(s) can live your best lives!
Photo by The Lucky Neko on Unsplash