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When Is the Best Time to Find a Kitten
Once you have decided you want a kitten, there are actually quite a few decisions to be made before you go down a particular path in getting it. Do you want a pedigree or a moggie? Are you after a particular breed? How many kittens do you want, what sex do you want them to be, and when should you actually aim to become a cat owner?
Once the decision has been made to get a kitten, it's only human to want to get one NOW. You would be excused for wanting to snuggle down with the little thing and love it to pieces - kittens are irresistible. However, you do need to be sensible - boring though it often is! We often want a kitten during the winter months when it is dark early in the evening and the thought of having a warm cat snuggled up on our lap is very appealing. However, this is often the time when there are the fewest kittens around. Even though we can provide our pet cats with all the food and shelter they need, they still follow rhythms that would allow them to survive if they lived as wild animals. The ability to breed is switched off in female cats as the days get shorter and winter approaches - very sensible to avoid having young to feed when much of your prey is hibernating or avoiding the cold and is rather scarce. As the days start to get longer again early in the year (in the northern hemisphere), female cats will start to come into season and call for mates. After a gestation period of nine weeks, kittens are born in the early spring - perfect timing for their mothers to take advantage of the activity and breeding of small rodents and birds. These prey provide adequate nutrition for producing milk and for weaning growing kittens. Of course, pet cats don't have to rely on this natural source of food, but they still answer to the seasonal rhythms. Female cats can have two or three litters over the spring and summer, and the last one may be as late as October. Some rescue organizations, to whom it falls to find homes for thousands of kittens each year, feel that our warming climate, whatever its root cause, is actually lengthening the breeding season for cats, and it is more common now to find kittens throughout the year. However, the largest numbers needing homes are still present in spring and summer.
Some pedigree cats seem to breed all year round quite naturally, and the body can indeed be fooled into coming into season if it is given extra light. Therefore, it can be easier to find pedigree kittens during the winter months.
Most animal welfare organizations dissuade people from taking on kittens (or other animals) over the Christmas period because it is a time when the festivities, visiting friends and relatives, excited children, and liberal amounts of alcohol can make our houses a little unsettled! Routines disappear, there are decorations and lights everywhere, and small kittens could be forgotten in all of the activities. However, this said, it is also a time when many people have a week or even two off work and may be an ideal time to give a new kitten extra care and attention as it settles in. Not every home is chaotic over Christmas!
You do need to have time to settle in a new kitten. It makes sense to take some time off or to ensure that your new charge arrives on a holiday so that you both have some time to get to know each other. If no one is home during the normal working day with the kitten, then a visit at lunchtime to check up on it would be ideal provided your job is nearby. Otherwise a friend or neighbor might check up on the kitten for the first week or so.
Avoid getting a kitten just before you go on vacation, as you will have to put it into a cattery just after it has gotten used to your home and routines. It is also not wise to leave a kitten to be fed only once daily by a neighbor - kittens tend to get up to a lot of mischief indoors or out, or they may decide to go in search of company. A good cattery is a much safer option.
Another combination that can be a little stressful is that of new baby and new kitten! Each young thing deserves individual attention, and human babies are all-consuming. Parents expecting their first child may not realize that "all-consuming" means just what it says - there is no easy way to do it! It is also a very stressful time for new moms and dads, and they worry about how everything might affect the new baby. Better to wait until the baby is six to nine months old at least. Remember too that small children, even if not very mobile, are excellent at grabbing ... and holding on. Children and kittens can and do mix very well, but children need to be controlled and taught to treat kittens with respect.
So choose your time carefully. Give your new kitten a chance to get to know you and your home and for the residents there - humans, dogs, cats, and even rabbits - to get used to it too.
These can be vitally important in assimilating your new kitten into your home as smoothly as possible.
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