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Things To Consider Before Getting A Kitten

Updated on March 24, 2013

I don't know how you can't be tempted by a baby kitten. I call them dangerously cute because I want to take them home with me to take care of them and play with them. But of course I know better. Bringing home a kitten is a big commitment. Getting any pet is a big commitment, but young pets are an even bigger one. Proper kitten care takes time and energy.

It's important to look past that cute playful expression and realize what you may be getting into if you decide to bring home a new kitten. Kittens are a little like young children; they require much more attention and patience than an adult cat. You should only commit to this if you're prepared for the good and the sometimes trying periods that are part of living with a kitten. But if you are prepared it can be incredibly fun and rewarding.

Our New Kitten
Our New Kitten

The Age Of The Kitten

The amount of time and attention a new kitten will require will somewhat depend on the exact age and how long he or she was with mom and the litter. Ideally the kitten should be with the mother and siblings until at least 8 weeks of age, but unfortunately sometimes they are separated sooner. In this case you will need to take over some of the care she would have received from her mom.

The mother and siblings train the kitten on certain behaviors and help with the normal development too. If you get a kitten that wasn't with the family long enough you may need to devote more time to training, meaning trying to take the place of mom and training the kitten yourself. But assuming you are getting a kitten that has spent enough time with the mother, there are still some things to consider.

Long Term Commitment

Be prepared for a long-term commitment. Cat's can live from 12 to 20+ years. I have a cat that is 20 years old and still going pretty strong. Of course a long-term commitment is a good thing when you've formed that bond.

If the kitten is old enough and litter box trained it will definitely help, but you will still want to keep an eye on her to make sure no cat behavior problems are formed in the transition to the new home.

Prepare For Normal Kitten Behavior

Make sure you have enough time for a new kitten. They are full of energy, they need to play a lot and they also need plenty of interaction. Although many people seem to think cats are solitary beings they are actually social creatures and need to spend time with you during the day. It's important to play with a kitten multiple times a day and especially before bed in hopes of getting them tired so you can get a good night's sleep.

You will need to kitten proof your home. Kittens like to do things like scratch furniture, dig in plants and climb curtains. These are natural kitten behaviors, but to help keep your place in shape you will want to do things like cover the dirt in your pots and get a scratching post and start training so she uses that instead of your furniture. It will also help if you spend enough time playing with her during the day.

Kittens are very curious, agile and did I mention full of energy. They will explore every nook and cranny of your home. They may knock over things on shelves or coffee tables, or climb anything they are able to. They learn and develop muscle by exploring, leaping, climbing and running. Make sure you have the patience for these natural kitten behaviors in the first year or so, and be sure to keep anything harmful out of her reach.

Kitten in a Basket
Kitten in a Basket

Consider Everyone In The Household

Make sure everyone in the household agrees to bringing home a new kitten. And if you have other pets consider them as well. Introducing a new kitten to other pets in the household will require more time, attention and diligence in order for the transition to be successful.

A couple other questions you may want to ask yourself ahead of time include: Are you prepared for the daily tasks of feeding the kitten, cleaning the litter box and spending time with her? Can you afford proper care, meaning feeding healthy kitten food, grooming and regular vet visits? Do you have someone to watch her when you go on vacation? You need to be able to answer yes to all of these before you start looking.

You will need to know how to take care of a kitten, because it is different than taking care of an adult cat. A kitten that doesn't get proper care can be more prone to cat health problems later on. Kitten care is more detailed and time consuming, but it can also be a lot of fun as well.

A new kitten can be very rewarding if you know what you're getting into. If you're prepared to spend the time needed you will have a much lower chance of having cat behavior problems down the road and better yet you can develop a strong and lasting friendship.

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