Are you considering a kitten as a new addition to your family? Before you bring that adorable bundle of fur home, here are some important questions to ask yourself before you do:
- Is anyone in the household allergic? If the answer is yes, consider carefully the medical needs of the human as well as the disruption to a cat’s life if it is adopted and relinquished shortly thereafter.
- Do you want the rambunctious, sometimes destructive, play of a kitten, or do you want a more mature cat?
- Is it important to you to know what the cat’s adult temperament is, or would you be happy with whatever personality a kitten develops as it matures?
- Are you “sold” on a specific breed? Are you aware of any genetic disease prevalent in the breed? Are you aware that purebred champion cats are bred for good looks, not good health? An ethical breeder will provide you with pertinent medical history of both parents, including results of feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus testing and the results of any genetic testing performed.
- Are you interested in rescuing a cat facing euthanasia?
- Who will be caring for the cat? It is not reasonable to expect children to reliably feed a cat and care for the litter box independently, so an adult in the household should plan to provide continuous supervision and any care not provided by the child.
- Are you willing and able to brush a long-haired cat daily to help prevent matted hair?
- Are you willing and financially able to have an annual exam performed by a veterinarian and vaccinations and dental care as necessary?
- Are you financially prepared to address non-routine medical issues that may develop, particularly as a cat ages?
- Did you know indoor-only cats frequently live to be 15 years old?
- Do not assume a solo cat needs a companion. It can take weeks for an established cat to accept a new arrival. Adult cats often, but not always, will be quicker to accept a kitten than another adult.
- One unpleasant concern: inappropriate urination and marking behavior are often due to failure to consider the size of the house relative to the number of cats. In nature, cats want a minimum of 2000 square feet of territory. While indoor cats adapt to somewhat smaller territories, the potential for conflict and urinary marking increases when there are more than two cats in a typical house.
Kittens are generally born in March or April and are ready for adoption in May and June. Local shelters are a wonderful source of cats of all ages. Most cats will have been tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, spayed or neutered, dewormed and started on their vaccinations – and have an adoption fee of under $100! Cat Hospital of Tucson offers a free exam of any cat adopted from an official, non-profit shelter within 10 days of adoption. Please feel free to call if you have questions related to adopting a cat and cat ownership.