Have you been thinking about adopting a new furry family member? Maybe you've been looking at getting a kitten for a while now, unsure if you're ready to make the commitment?
While cats tend to be a little more independent than their canine counterparts, there are a few things to consider before you bring home your new feline friend. Don’t jump into pet parenthood without taking a look through our guide of things to know when getting a kitten to ensure you’re ready!
What type of kitten do you want?
Thinking about getting a kitten? It’s wise to consider the type of cat you want. There’s a big difference between choosing to adopt a cat or kitten – so think about what age will suit you. Kittens require a little more patience than an adult cat with the need to litter train and also play!
If you decide a kitten is what you want, then it’s time to think about all the different kitten types. Perhaps you want you’ve been dreaming of your very own Ragdoll kitten, or are ready to adopt a cute tabby cat? Like dogs, cats come in all different shapes and sizes with different personalities and needs, and it’s important to keep this in mind when choosing a breed.
Some general questions to ask yourself before you pick your new bundle of fur are:
- How many hours will you be able to spend with your kitten?
- What is your living situation?
- Will they be an indoor or outdoor cat?
- Do you have other animals at home?
- Do you have a preference in fur length for grooming?
Also, consider where you want to adopt your new feline friend from. There are plenty of kitten adoption shelters out there that will help you find your perfect fit, regardless of breed! By covering off a list of preferences, it will make it easier to find a kitten that suits you and your lifestyle.
The cost of owning a kitten
It's hard to know exactly how much owning a kitten will cost. You might find your kitten comes desexed or vaccinated, saving you initial costs on vet bills. However, there are a few expenses you can plan for, like those involved in setting up for your new kitty. Essentials you’ll need to make your kitten at home include:
- Identification and microchipping
- Flea, tick and worming treatments
- Grooming tools
- Vet check-ups and vaccines
While emergencies can be hard to account for, you should have a budget set aside just in case. Not only will it help you avoid any surprise vet bills, but it ensures your kitten will get the best care.
Creating the right environment for a kitten
A major consideration when getting a kitten is the home you can provide. While cats are a little more adaptable and don’t need an outdoor space, or as much space, they still need a safe and suitable environment. The first thing you should do is think about kitten proofing your home – after all, you’re going to want to make sure your space is safe for little paws.
Make sure all nasties like electrical cords, toxic plants and chemicals are out of the reach of curious paws. Remove choking hazards, like small objects, and tie up loose blind cords.
Another consideration when taking care of kittens is what kind of enrichment you can provide. Think of items like:
- Scratching posts
- Scratching mats
- Cat toys
- Cat trees
- Food puzzles
These enrichment items help encourage your cat to embrace their natural instincts, like climbing, jumping, scratching and hunting. They basically make their lives a little bit more exciting and help entertain them!
How much attention does a kitten need?
Raising a kitten is a very different experience from having an adult cat. Sometimes cats can get a bad rap for being antisocial, but for many felines – especially kittens – this isn't true! Instead, it might feel like your kitten has limitless energy and sticks their nose into anything they can get their paws on. This means they require a lot of time and energy to keep them out of trouble.
By 6 months of age, you shouldn’t have any issues with leaving a kitten home alone for most of the day. However, you should be prepared to set aside some quality time when you get back.
Play is a great way to encourage exercise and also help form a bond between you and your kitty. Make sure you're prepared to spend a little bit of time each day playing with them. Whether you entice your kitten with colourful ribbon or have them chase a mouse on a string, you want to ensure they get daily exercise.
You might also find your kitten just likes being around you. Whether it's snuggling on the couch or sitting by your side while you do something, sometimes they just like to be close!
Am I ready for a kitten? The bottom line
When considering if you’re ready for a kitten, remember that it’s a long-term promise. Many felines live into their late teens, with some even living into their 20s, so make sure you understand the long-term commitment you’re making. However, with plenty of love and care, your kitten will become your best friend.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do kittens sleep?
Despite having what seems like endless amounts of energy, if you find your kitten snoozing a lot, don’t be worried. At a young age, these fur balls can actually sleep for anywhere between 16 and 20 hours a day!
What age is the best time to get a kitten?
You should ideally wait until your kitten is around 12 weeks of age before you take them home. Kittens normally wean off their mother’s milk around 8-12 weeks of age and will then be ready to spend time without their mother.
Can a new kitten be left alone?
Yes! However, you shouldn’t do it for too long. Kittens younger than four months shouldn’t be left alone for longer than a few hours. Once they hit 4 months, you can generally leave them alone for no longer than 4 hours. At 6 months, you’ll find they can handle an 8-hour day alone without too much stress.