There is a lot to consider when getting a new kitten, or as I like to say, a new member of the family. Kittens are pretty much smaller versions of cats but with lots more energy. The best comparison would be a toddler compared to a teenager, which parents can certainly relate to. A kitten, like a toddler, is very playful, loves attention and gets into everything. Adult cats, on the other hand, behave more like teenagers: they want to be left alone, sleep all day, and can be solitary and aloof.
The first consideration is whether to adopt or purchase your kitten from a breeder or pet store. There are pros and cons to both, but I found that the shelter option was a better fit for me. I have adopted two shelter kittens, both of which turned into exceptional cats.
My first kitten was Buffy, who I adopted from the North Shore Animal League on Long Island. Buffy was two months old when I adopted her. I had never had a kitten before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I did some research prior to bringing her home and purchased some necessary items from a pet store to help get Buffy set up.
The items I selected were: a cat bed so she could have her own place to sleep, a plastic litter box with a lid and door so she could easily get in and out, litter for the box, and a litter mat to place in front of the box to trap litter when she gets out. I also purchased three cat bowls for water, dry food, and wet food, and of course the food. There are a lot of food choices out there, but you need to choose a food that is labeled as complete and balanced for kittens, or ask your veterinarian for advice. I used Purina Kitten Chow and a kitten wet food. Kittens generally need to eat kitten food until they are 12 months old, when they can be switched to an adult cat food.
I looked at a lot of kittens the day I adopted Buffy. But when she looked at me from her cage it was love at first sight. We selected each other that day and it was a perfect match that lasted 14 years with unconditional friendship and love. I was immediately asked if I had a cat carrier to bring her home. That was the one thing I forgot to get. Luckily the shelter was prepared and provided a cardboard carrier for me to take her home in. Once the adoption was complete, I was able to take her home.
She was so quiet until she got in the car then meowed the entire 45-minute drive home. Once she got home she was a little scared to leave her carrier. Being only two months old, everything was brand new to her. I left the door to her carrier open to let her explore on her own terms. I placed some wet food mixed with dry food outside her carrier to help her adjust, since that is what they were feeding her at the shelter.
Once she left the safety of her cardboard box she started to venture out and explore. That’s when kitten proofing came into play. She started getting into everything. I had to block off access to the area behind the TV because she liked to play with the wires. I also had to make sure there wasn’t anything on the floor she could eat like loose string that could get stuck in her stomach. If cats or kittens ingest string it could make them very sick so it’s important not to have anything loose lying around.
I remember drifting off to sleep on the couch and waking up to the cutest meow ever. She was lonely and wanted some attention. When I finally went to sleep she cried the entire night, but she was fine after that first night.
The next day I purchased a plastic cat carrier, which is necessary for basic travel and going to vet appointments. I also set up her pet insurance. This comes in handy when your cat gets sick and needs a trip to the vet. I also bought her some toys like feathers and stuffed catnip toys to promote exercise and play. A few days later she tried to climb onto the couch but she couldn’t quite make it and fell over. It was very cute and I couldn’t help but laugh. I picked her up and helped her onto the couch. Within two months she was hopping on and off the couch on her own.
She was the only cat I had at that time so toys were essential, since she didn’t have another cat to play with. When Buffy got older I purchased a cat tower for her to climb and sharpen her claws on, instead of using my couch. She was the best kitten and turned into a wonderful cat.
There is a lot to consider when getting a kitten, but remember that getting a kitten is a lifetime commitment. As the cute little furball grows up and becomes an adult cat they still require just as much love and care they received as a kitten. They are still the same individual, just grown up, the same as the adorable toddler who grows into a teenager and then an adult.