Adopting a new kitten is a big decision, and requires more preparation and responsibility than you may think. Potential owners may find themselves overwhelmed with all kinds of questions: What should I look for in a kitten? How do I prepare for the new kitten? What kind of costs are involved? These are all great questions, that can be answered right here, in part one of the kitten behaviour series!
What should I look for in a kitten?
Making sure a kitten is healthy before you adopt it is very important–but how do you know? First of all, when holding the kitty candidate, assess how they feel. They should be neither too skinny, nor too fat. If they have a pot-belly, or protruding ribs, then these are signs that the kitten could have health problems as a result of neglect. Kittens with a history of neglect could have growth or socialization problems in the future so buyer beware. When looking at each kitten, you want to do somewhat of a full body inspection! Here’s what to look for:
- Fur and skin: Skin should be clean, unbroken, and equipped with a smooth coat of fur!
- Ears: Check to see if their tiny ears are nice and clean.
- Eyes: Look for runniness or signs of discharge, both are signs of illness. Eyes should be clear and bright!
- Nose: A healthy kitten nose will be slightly moist
- Mouth: Gums should be bright pink, and teeth should be pearly white
- Tail: Check for any damp areas, as they can be signs of illness.
How do I prepare for the new kitten?
There are many preparations that need to be made before the new kitten even comes home. First, you’ll need basic care items: a litter box, food & water dishes, cat food, a scratching post, and toys. All of these are very important, including the scratching post. (That is, unless you want your curtains shredded up in the morning.) You will also need treats for the first few weeks when you teach the kitten certain skills. A collar with tags is also recommended, whether your cat is outdoor or indoor. Finally, a cat carrier that opens at the top will need to be purchased for car rides that your kitten will be taking to the vet. Always put a blanket in the carrier to give your new pet some traction for the first ride home. There are pheromone wipes and sprays which can be used inside the carrier to make your feline friend feel stress-free when confined. These should be applied five minutes before travel.
You’re also going to need a veterinarian! You’ll want to take the new kitten for an exam as soon as possible after adoption.
What kind of costs are involved?
As with any pet, there’s going to be some money involved to take proper care of the new family member. First of all, the preparations that have been made will certainly add up in the cost department–feline friends aren’t cheap! The kitten will also need to be spayed or neutered, as well as examined at an appointment with your veterinarian and given its vaccinations. Micro-chipping your pet is also an option (which can be read about here). Potential owners should be preparing for and considering these costs well before the adoption is made. It is important to be aware that even the seemingly healthiest and best cared for animals fall ill sometimes, and these potential situations need to be budgeted for. Cats grow up to be independent creatures, but they will always need to have dependable, committed owners.
Spadafori, G. (2007, September 07). The right start. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=2642
Spadafori, G. (2013, August 05). A few simple steps will help you adopt a healthy young cat. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=3485
Content Contributor: Dr. Sandy Drury