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Adopting a Kitten
"You are smitten by a kitten!" Most people cannot resist the urge to bring a kitten quickly into their home. Especially after spying a small ball of fluffy fur, captivating, enormous eyes and cute face peering up at them.
Ideally, a kitten should not leave its mother until it reaches twelve weeks old. But many kittens are removed from the mom cat long before they are ready to leave her.
In some occasions, this action is unavoidable. The kitten might have been abandoned, or rejected by the mom cat. Perhaps the mom cat passed away during the birthing process.
There is no shortage of kittens. Available "Free for the taking" or at a price in newspapers and online, adopted from cat breeders or animal/rescue groups, kittens are plentiful especially during kitten season.
Rather than be captivated by the cuteness of a kitten, evaluate the kitten’s personality.
Sit among the litter on the floor. Make small sounds and see which kitten will boldly approach you to investigate the noise. Tap your fingernail against the floor several times, or use a toy to capture the kittens attention.
If a kitten hangs back, this kitten is timid and likely to hide from you once you get him home. If the kitten shows no fear and directly approaches you it is his alpha tendencies and natural curiousity that lends to his personality. He would be a good choice for a household with children and other pets.
Look for kittens with clear eyes, no discharge from the nostrils and no messy rear-end.
What type of supplies do you need to adopt a kitten?
Dusty Rainbolt, kitten rescuer and author of Kittens for Dummies suggests that for an 8-week old kitten there are several essential items:
Litterbox- Small kittens can get lost in a large litter box. Rather than purchase an adult-size litter pan, turn instead to the local grocery store. Buy aluminum throw-away pans as “starter pans.”
Once the kitten grows, you may find out that a normal size litter pan isn’t large enough. Rubbermaid™ makes larger flat containers that make wonderful litter pans for the older adult cat.
Litter- Do not use clumping litter. Kittens are inquisitive and sampling litter is common. Use a clay litter, or a recycled litter that is biodegradable.
Steer clear of litter liners. Kittens claws easily snag plastic liners and can create an early fright for them leading them to litterbox aversion. Also avoid scented litter.You may enjoy the perfume in the room, but your kitten will not!
Litter scoop- The scoop needs to be a substantial size preferably not plastic. Plastic litter scoops break easily.
Cat Carrier- Look for a top-loading cat carrier versus a front load. For this item, buy the adult size. Your kitten will grow into it soon enough.
Leave it out all the time on the floor with soft padding in it. Your kitten will welcome the secure bed it offers. If your kitten comes from a loving home, ask the previous caregiver for a towel with the scent of the mom cat on it. This towel can prove to be great comfort for a kitten missing its mom and littermates.
Scratching post- You want to buy an adult-size scratching post. The post needs to be tall and sturdy (otherwise it can topple over and cause injury or death to an energetic kitten).
If the scratching post wobbles after you put it together, secure it down so it won’t move. Look for a wide-based post to prevent wobbles.
Your kitten will also benefit by a angled cardboard scratcher. Beware of the type that has small holes in the side. Kittens can easily crawl inside or get stuck in the small holes.
If the scratcher is catnip-scented, the kitten, if caught inside can become drunk and even sick from the fumes.
Water bowls- Use your own saucers for food. Kittens are sensitive to their whiskers touching surfaces. Make sure the water bowl is large enough that the kitten can drink without touching the sides of the bowl with its whiskers.
Toys- Kittens will play with anything they can find lying on the floor. Be sure that the room you have prepared for the kitten has been searched for anything lying in the corners, underneath furniture or in the carpet.
Dangerous items would be anything small enough the kitten can choke on; rubber bands, bobby pins, dental floss, hair scrunchies, pills accidentally dropped on the floor and never retrieved. Dead bugs can cause digestive upset, dust balls are a danger (if kitty is hiding under the bed).
Make a thorough sweep of the room, vacuum and dust before you bring the kitten home. Remove all breakable items before you put the kitten into the room.
If you give your kitten toy mice, cut off the tail. Remove eyes, string, ribbon, bells, and anything else on toys that your kitten might be able to dislodge and choke on.
When dealing with toys on a string, be sure the playtime is supervised. Once you are done playing with your kitten, lock the toy safely away.
Food- Buy age-appropriate canned and dry food. Buy quality food, not generic. Kittens have special nutritional needs so look for foods geared for growth and development.
Check the ingredient list carefully. Avoid foods that list onions and/or garlic in their ingredients. The first three items listed should be meats or meat by-products.
Your kitten will be active in your home. He will climb your drapes, run across your head while you are asleep, knock items off of the bedroom dresser scamper up the stairs and climb quickly into your heart.
Vet Check- Be sure you take your kitten to the vet for an early health check. Fleas and parasites can quickly claim a young kitten’s life.
Check with your local vet regarding what age the vet will neuter kittens. Early spay and neuter appointments are becoming popular with veterinarians, especially in light of the worldwide kitten explosion.
Be a responsible kitten owner and your kitten will be responsible as well. He will be responsible for delivering to you giggles and laughter, moments of frustration and lapfuls of love.
Enjoy this special time with your kitten, after all- You've been smitten!