Things to consider if you want a kitten
Kitten season is typically between March and September, but female cats can generally have litters all year round.
We are frequently asked if there are kittens available and in our experience kittens are often reserved very quickly, more so than other cats, but before you commit to taking on a furry little bundle of joy, it’s important that you know what to expect.
Kittens have a lot of energy and will spend a lot of time running about, playing and climbing. This may include climbing on your furniture! This is part of their development - learning to climb, developing muscles and exploring their surroundings.
To maintain all that energy whilst they are growing, kittens will need a lot of food. Commercial kitten food should meet their nutritional needs and ideally food should be checked and replaced four times a day. Following the manufacturer's instructions will ensure you do not overfeed or you can speak to your vet to assess your kitten’s nutritional needs. They should also have easy access to fresh water.
With all that playing and eating, it’s no doubt that kittens will need some down time. One moment they could be running about and the next they will have curled up for a nap. It’s important not to disturb them during this time. Just like babies, or indeed other baby animals, sleep it vital for their growth, both physically and behaviourally. You will need to ensure that your kitten has a couple of safe and comfortable places that they can catch a few zzz’s.
As well as this, it’s important to make sure there are no hazards in your home. Kittens are small and like to explore and can therefore get into unusual places that you may not expect. Block off any gaps between cupboards or furniture and make sure chemical products are also stored away safely.
If kittens have been raised by their mothers, it’s recommended that they stay with them up until the age of eight weeks. This is an important phase for socialisation and behavioural development. At our adoption centre, we have a dedicated maternity unit (this is not open to the public) and our team works hard to meet their needs. This includes feeding, socialisation, veterinary checks and maintaining a high standard of cleanliness to ensure kittens are kept healthy.
When choosing a kitten, you should find out about it’s socialisation so far. Don’t be afraid to ask questions - has the kitten met a variety of different people? Has it met other cats or other animals? Is it accustomed to loud noises? Once you’ve brought the kitten home, like with any pet, it will take some time to settle in. Your home will be a completely different environment compared to what the kitten has been used to, with a lot more space, new sounds and smells and a new routine. It’s important that you take things slowly; start with introducing them to one room and letting them explore and build confidence. Keep their food, some toys and a box nearby, so that they can retreat if they need to. By taking a slow approach, you will avoid developing anxiety and behavioural issues later down the line. Consistency is key, especially with regards to house rules. For example, if you have let them into one room, don’t then shut it off, this will lead to confusion. Make a plan with everyone in your home before you bring the kitten home and ensure everyone sticks to the rules.
To ensure your kitten remains healthy, regular grooming is something that you will need to spend some time on. This will get them used to being handled by you and in turn will get you used to them, so you can check for irregularities such as cuts and bumps as they grow up. It will also keep their coat nice and healthy.
It’s undeniable that kittens are cute, but getting one is a big commitment. Most cats live for 15-20 years and they aren’t kittens for long, so you need to be in it for the long term. If you’re not prepared for this, then you should perhaps reconsider.
Key points to take away:
Is your home hazard free? Can you make it hazard free?
Do you have the time to litter train, groom and feed regularly?
Are there other pets or children that you will need to introduce your kitten to and set some house rules?
Are you comfortable with kittens running around your home, potentially on your furniture?
Can you afford veterinary bills? Kittens require vaccinations at 8 and 12 weeks old and may need other veterinary treatments throughout their lives.
To find out more about kitten care, view our essential guide ‘Caring for your kitten’, which you can view here