It’s kitten season. That means that everywhere you turn there are cute, cuddly bundles of joy looking for a good home. They’re at PetSmart, PetCo and every boutique pet shop and everywhere on Facebook. Yes, it’s kitten season and it’s very tempting to adopt a kitten or two. I’m asking you to run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit before getting sucked into a new kitten.
Before you go all crazy on me and deem me as anti-cat – I’m not, I’m a crazy cat lady – I just want you to do a few things before you bring home a kitten. You’re about to make a very big, long-term commitment that too many people take too lightly. Visit your local shelter or talk to your local rescue and find out how many cats in their care are between the ages of say - 1 to 5 years old. Not long ago, those were kittens someone just had to have.
Each year, a staggering 7 in 10 cats that end up in animal shelters don’t get a happy ending because their time runs out before they get rescued. That is the ultimate price to pay for someone who jumped the gun and added a kitten before thinking it through.
June is adopt a cat month. That means the shelters and rescues are working hard this month to find homes for the many cats in their care. They were already overflowing before kitten season hit and opened the floodgates for mini-kitties needing homes. So, before you add a kitten to your life…I’d like you to do the following:
Think about your time commitment – Kittens need a lot of time for socialization and to learn the ropes in their new home. They also are party animals when you most want to sleep. If you work a lot or travel frequently, an adult cat (or pair of adult cats) may be a better fit than a kitten.
Consider your expectations – It sounds silly, but what are you expecting from your cat? Every cat has a distinct personality and putting thought into what you expect will go a long way into helping you connect with the right cat. There are shy cats, outgoing cats, aloof cats, lap cats, party cats and some that will play fetch like a dog. Again, if you want a cat because they are calm and low maintenance, skip the kittens.
List your non-negotiable issues – Don't want a pet that treats your house like a jungle gym and gets the zoomies at all hours...skip kittens. If you’re a neat freak and a little fur may drive you batty, be aware that cats shed a lot but if you're diligent with brushing, it's not as bad. Cats can be trained to not jump on tables and counters. Figure out at first what you will and won’t accept and be clear with adoption counselors.
How are you on long-term commitments – The kitty pictured at the top of this blog lived to almost 20 and her brother to 15. If you can’t or don’t want to make a 15 to 20 year commitment, a kitten is a bad idea. Also, think about what happens if you date someone who dislikes cats or you have a baby or move…these are all reasons why people dump cats in shelters.
Do the math – Cats and kittens require food, bowls, toys, litter box, cat litter, a bed and treats. When you adopt a cat or kitten, they should be spayed and neutered and up to date on shots, but will need to see the vet at least once a year for a preventative check up. Is that in your budget?
Do a test run – No, I don’t mean adopt a kitten and return it. If you’ve not been around cats full time, volunteer to cat sit at a friend's home. You can also volunteer to foster kittens or a cat for a rescue. It will give you a chance to see what age and type of cat is a good fit for you and you may fall in love with one of your fosters.
Spend time in the cat room – This is another great place to volunteer and get a better feel for the personalities and mannerisms of cats. If you don't have time to volunteer, spend some time in the cat room before you make a long term commitment. Spend some time with the adult kitties needing homes and really check out the great personalities needing a second chance.
Don't look for the perfect cat - What I mean by this is stop looking for the cat that looks perfect. There so many cats that appear less-than-perfect that may be older, have a few health issues, are shy or maybe they black (they take the longest time to find homes) or look "different." These less than perfect cats on the surface may be the perfect cat for you.
Let the right cat pick you – Sometimes people spend far too much time trying to find the right cat. Cats are very good at picking the right person and it’s an incredible bond. Scarlett picked me...Max picked my husband. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Double up – If you adopt a kitten, get two. Believe it or not, two kittens get into much less trouble than one because they play together. They also will keep each other company. As a serial bonded pair adopter, I highly recommend this for both cats and kittens (bonded adult pairs wait a long time often to find homes together).
Where should I find a cat – There are shelters and rescues all over with many cats to choose from. Adopting a cat saves two lives, that cat and the cat that takes their place in the shelter. Check them out on Petfinder, Adopt-A-Pet or Petango and then talk to the people at the rescue. If you see a cat at a pet shop do your research first. Many shelters and rescues work with pet stores and that is good. However, there are pet stores that sell "pure breed" kittens. These cats come from kitten mills and should be avoided.
More about cats:
Something's obviously wrong with that cat (Max's story)
- If you're patient, the right cat will pick you (Scarlett's story)
- Late, great Rhett the Wonder Cat (Rhett's story)
- From Timid Cat to Queen Bee (Ellie's story)
- Confessions of a Crazy Cat lady (why we need to be passionate about cat rescue)
- Cat transfer team: Saving Chicago's homeless cats
All of the cats and kittens featured in this post are looking for homes at various Chicago-area shelters and rescues.
Is there one for you?
Subscribe to my feed by typing your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.