You walk into the adoption center and dozens of furry faces turn your way. Black, white, tabby, calico, long-hair, short-hair, male, female? how do you choose!?
Congratulations on your decision to bring a new kitten into your home! For most cat lovers, there are few things more exciting! But now you?re faced with the daunting task of choosing the kitten for you. Here are a few pointers to make the job a little bit easier.
Take a good close look at each kitten. Are the eyes bright, alert and free of discharge? Are the ears and nose clean? Is the kitten?s coat glossy and free of dander and dirt? Does the kitten appear well-nourished? Is the kitten playful and curious? Does the kitten come to the front of the cage to investigate your presence? If you can answer ?yes? to each of these questions, then the rest of the decision really comes down to preference.
Of course, there are plenty of adult kitties out there who need homes, too! For those who have less time to rear a rambunctious kitten, for senior citizens, or for someone who simply prefers a quieter presence, an adult cat may be the way to go!
There are a number of places to look when considering adopting a new pet. Local animal shelters are always overflowing with cats. Check out feline rescue organizations in your area. These cats are usually fostered in homes and well cared for! There are often pet adoption fairs going on at local pet stores and other locations. Keep an eye on the newspaper for information on their times and places. Another excellent resource is www.petfinder.com. Many rescue organizations post pictures and information about kitties that are up for adoption. If you have your heart set on a purebred cat, ask around for recommendations for a reputable breeder or contact a breed-specific rescue organization. Attend a cat show in the area to find out more about the breed you are interested in and to make contacts.
Could two be better than one? With kittens, this is often the case! Two cats are not much more trouble to care for than one. Two kittens can keep each other company when the humans are out and therefore tend to be less destructive and better socialized. Plus, watching two kittens interact is immensely entertaining!
Before bringing kitty (or kitties) home, there are a few preparations that need to be made. First, make sure the newcomer has her own food and water dishes, litter box, toys, a sturdy scratching post and a soft bed to call her own. Place all her new belongings in a small room that can be closed off from the rest of the house. Your new kitten will feel more secure in a smaller space. This also guarantees the new kitty remains separated from any other pets in the house until she is screened for infectious disease (like Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and parasites (like roundworms). Once she gets the all-clear from her veterinarian, and she starts to feel a little bolder, allow her to explore more of her new home one room at a time.
You?ll also want to make sure you?ve kitten-proofed the home. Put away all small objects that can be swallowed. Dangling strings and wires can also be dangerous. Put all medications and cleaning agents out of reach. Check to make sure your houseplants are non-toxic. Many kittens learn quickly how to open closet doors and cabinets; child-proof latches are a great idea!
Schedule a veterinary visit within the first few days after adoption for a wellness check-up. Make sure to bring all of her previous veterinary records. During her first visit, kitty will receive a thorough physical examination. The doctor will check for internal and external parasites like roundworms, ear mites and those pesky fleas. Kitty will also receive a deworming medication at this time. A few drops of kitty?s blood will be needed to screen for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Nutritional and behavioral counseling are other important topics that will be discussed along with continuing parasite control, especially for heartworm and fleas. If appropriate, kitty may begin her vaccines.
During the first several months of kitty?s life, she will visit the veterinary clinic several times even if she stays healthy! This is because vaccines, dewormings and viral screenings need to be repeated to ensure optimal health of your new pet. Cat Care recommends spaying or neutering as soon as possible after kitty reaches three pounds. Spaying or neutering before kitty reaches maturity can considerably decrease the chances of certain reproductive cancers. In addition, it reduces kitty?s urge to escape and to mark his or her territory. Spaying also prevents the possibility of pyometra, a potentially life-threatening infection of the uterus. During this time, you will also need to decide whether to declaw or not to declaw. Ideally, declawing is done at the same time as the spay/neuter procedure.
After the first year, kitty will only need to visit the veterinarian annually or semi-annually for physical examination and revaccination (if appropriate), unless she becomes ill or injured. Cats are masters at hiding illness and discomfort. They also age much more quickly than humans do. For these reasons, it is important to have kitty examined regularly.
With good nutrition, veterinary care and lots and lots of love, your new companion may very well fill your world with purrs and trills, chatters and meows for 15-20 years!