Cat Care: How Caring For Kittens Is Just Like Caring For Babies
KITTENS & BABIES
Cats are wonderful friends and companions, if you're "animally-inclined". I have three kittens and they bring me countless smiles everyday. One thing I've realized about taking care of Jiggy, Motmot, and Layla (my three kittens) and my previous kitten, BamBam, is that it's much like taking care of a human baby.
Stage 1: Infancy
An infant human baby is completely dependent upon it's mother for food and other needs. An infant kitten is exactly the same. When BamBam got separated from her mother (she had shown up in our backyard one day), I took her in and raised her. She wasn't afraid of me at all. In fact, she walked right up to me when I called out to her the first time. I quickly found out that she would look to me for all her basic and even "emotional" needs. I had unwittingly become a mommy.
Just as human infants need to be fed and diaper-changed every so often, I had to feed and take BamBam to the potty at regular intervals during the day... and night. I don't have children, but at that time, I felt as though I had. Getting up at midnight, then again at 2 a.m., and yet again at 4 a.m. to BamBam's "crying" became my regular routine. Yet strangely, I never felt tired. I guess the joy of taking care of my "baby" surpassed the inconveniences I suffered.
Stage 2: Terrible Twos
Ahh... the dreaded terrible twos. A lot of parents who've lived to tell the tale speak of the tantrums and bouts of confusion as their child reaches age 2. BamBam had her terrible twos soon after I adopted her. (The vet said BamBam was approximately almost 2 months old when she wandered into our backyard.)
Chewing on electrical wires, hanging on curtains, demanding play time, separation anxiety, getting into trouble - BamBam's terrible twos left indelible marks on me as well as my room.
BamBam's chewing on electrical wires was one of my major problems. (The human toddler equivalent to this, I guess, would be sticking a finger inside electrical sockets.) A fried kitty was something that I did not want to have. I tried the "shaking a can of coins" method whenever she chewed on cords, but it only worked during the first few times. Then she got used to the sound of the jingling coins. Finally, I resorted to time out. I would gently pull her off the computer wires and put her down outside my room. And I shut my ears to the sound of her wailing to come back inside.
My sister often told me about not getting enough sleep when my nieces were younger because they woke her up in the middle of the night to play. Demanding play time during odd hours was also another major concern of mine since BamBam would playfully bite and scratch me in the middle of the night when I was sleeping and of course I had some scratch marks on me. I learned that it was best not to give in though. I would gently pick her up from my bed and put her down on the floor until she didn't jump back up anymore. And in the morning when I woke up, I would play with her on a specific time schedule which I, not she, determined.
And then there was the separation anxiety. Every morning when I had to go to work, BamBam would try to follow me out. After I succeeded in "escaping", she would wail piteously for me to come back. It was a lot like how some preschoolers cry when their mommies leave, actually.
Stage 3: Adolescence
This is the stage that most parents fear. It's when their children start dating and going out with the opposite sex. Letting go is often an issue. Fortunately, in the case of our kittens, we don't have to "let go" of them.
I plan to have my kittens spayed or neutered when they reach 4-6 months old. It not only prevents the problem of unwanted pregnancies for females and spraying problems for males, it also healthier for the cat.
Stage 4: Happily Ever After
Okay, so I'll probably still encounter some issues as my cats get older. But like raising children, the hard part is just at the beginning.
A NOTE ABOUT STRAY KITTENS
Sometimes you won't be as lucky as I was when I first took in BamBam. Most stray kittens, or what they call feral kittens, aren't used to human handling, so they may be hostile at first. If you're thinking of adopting those stray kittens in your backyard, you might find help in this three-part video on how to tame feral kittens by Mike Phillips, President and co-founder of Urban Cat League, Inc., NYC and a former President of Neighborhood Cats, NYC.
Tough Love: Socializing Feral Kittens (Part 1 of 3)
Tough Love: Socializing Feral Kittens (Part 2 of 3)
Tough Love: Socializing Feral Kittens (Part 3 of 3)
- Urban Cat League - "Friends of the Forgotten Feline"
Helping NYC feral cats.
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