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Cats & Kittens Pet Adoption Tips

Welcome to the pet care section of Diana L. Guerrero's Ark Animals. Adopting a pet cat or pet kitten demands preparation. Learn how to prepare for your feline adoption in this article. Feel free to visit the media room for press releases, recent media coverage, and related items.

Cats & Kittens Pet Adoption Tips

Adding a feline to your home might seem simple but cats and kittens demand preparation. Here are twelve tips for to help you make good choices when you decide to add a feline to the pet household:

1. New cats or kittens need a lifelong commitment.
Kittens are little bundles of energy and full of mischief! They require more attention, activity and training than an older feline. You will need to take steps to kitten proof your home--and to avoid positioning yourself as a live surrogate tree. Claws can be a particular challenge for your trunk-like legs, furniture and curtains!

Kittens are like having a new baby; they are a lot of work. Don't overlook adopting older cats and elderly animals because they can also make fabulous feline friends. They are less active than a kitten, and you usually know what habits are challenges, if they have any undesirable behavior at all.

Cats can live beyond twenty years of age and a lifelong commitment is necessary. So take this in consideration when you decide to adopt or acquire a new animal.

2. Does anyone in the household have allergies to cats or kittens?
If a family member has allergies you don't want to bring in an animal that will trigger reactions. A better bet would be to regularly volunteer at a shelter or foster care facility. It really is a humane option and better for the health of your family member.

3. Where do you get a new cat or kitten?
When I worked as an adoption counselor, we worked diligently to make sure the animals that landed in a home would be part of that family for the rest of their life. Many were traumatized by their abandonment and their mental health depending on it.

Adoption or breed rescue facilities are two ways to obtain a new cat or kitten. Some of those animals often need a bit more tender loving care. There are millions of animals that end up in animal shelters and animal control agencies. Many more are abandoned to starve (or worse) due to lack of pre-planning or commitment.

You can also purchase a pet. If you do, make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder or facility. (Read about How to Find a Good Breeder elsewhere on this site.) Purchasing from a reputable breeder is critical since many unscrupulous people irresponsibly breed animals, don't provide good environments and fail to provide optimum care for them. Backyard breeders usually show up on street corners, lots, and store fronts. They are also most likely to place flyers in public areas and in local freebie papers.

I encourage most people to adopt or rescue a pet and make a huge difference in the lives of animals. That action also makes a dent in demands for the breeding of animals and so ultimately affects the pet overpopulation problem.

4. Other questions for potential cat and kitten owners.
Before you go out and look for a new pet there are some questions you need to ask and answer:

  • If you rent, does your landlord accept pets?
    Don't go out and get a pet before you have written permission from your landlord or agreement from other family members. This is really, really important.
  • Can you afford the pet?
    Obtaining a pet means you will need to pay adoption or purchase fees, annual veterinary medical care, quality food, toys, dishes, beds, scratch posts, transport crate and other incidentals. Will you need pet care services when you travel? Do you have a groomer for coat and claw care? How about pet health insurance? Write out an annual budget and make sure you can afford the animal.

5. How do you pick the perfect cat or kitten?
The secret to picking a kitten or a cat is to look for personality rather than appearance. There are long haired, medium haired and short haired animals in a variety of colors and temperaments. A beautiful animal with a horrid disposition will not make you happy!

Reading books about breeds, visiting cat shows and taking your time to met lots of feline friends will help you select the right cat for your lifestyle. Some cat breeds are more vocal than others, while others have a reputation to being active and curious. There are a few breeds that are on the quiet side. Finding the right cat will take some research.

Don't forget that many animals with long coats will require grooming. If you neglect this simple task you will find yourself with a matted mess and skin irritations or problems. Hairballs? Yep, you'll have to learn to manage them.

6. How to find resources for your cat or kitten.
Finding out about pet parenthood can include trips to the library, researching breeds through cat associations and cat shows, and visits to humane or rescue organizations for additional tips. Consider the information and the source carefully. Some people will have an interest in selling you an animal rather than making sure it is the right pet for your home. Good sources will help you make a proper selection for your lifestyle and needs. Often, top breeders will ask you more questions than you do!

7. Timing is everything when you bring a cat or kitten into the home.
Check your schedule so you can plan to have quality time to spend with your new pet to help them in the transition to your home and family. Don't overdo it though. Most kittens are best placed once they are completely weaned. Some oriental breeds, from a behavioral perspective, are better off going to a new home later-usually between ten and twelve weeks of age.

8. What does your new cat or kitten need?
New cats and kittens will need more than just food and water. Young critters need quality attention and concentrated activity. Make sure you have bowls for food and water, a bed (or your bed), toys, more toys, and more toys, grooming combs, a few scratching posts, climbing trees, litterboxes, litter, assorted tools, and lots of love!

9. What is kitten proofing?
Kittens get into everything and climb just about anything, too! Curtains, furniture, legs and a variety of other items are great amusement for the little felonious felines. You can learn to redirect their activity into appropriate play and climbing with a little help and preplanning. Take my word for it, the sooner learn those techniques the easier your life will be--and the less scratches you will have

Keeping cats and kittens safe is a big effort. Dangers include appliances (washers, dryers, refrigerators) since many creatures crawl into them and get trapped. If you open windows make sure that the screens are secure. Electrical cords might need to be encased in plastic tubing to prevent chewing and electrocution. Check to see if any of your plants are toxic and replace or move them out of reach. You can also try topical deterrents. In any case, monitor the new arrivals when they have the run of the house.

A good solution is to buy a "kitty condo" that fits in the window or designate a playroom to keep kittens out of trouble while you are away. Removing risk items when you are not around and then teaching a kitten the human definition of "right" from "wrong" is recommended.

10. Stop the overpopulation and many behavior problems by altering animals.
Did you know that when you neuter your pet one of the perks will be the loss of bad behaviors and the hormonal surges related to heat and breeding? Also, your decision to alter and animals helps extinguish the pet overpopulation problem-remember it only takes one accident for a litter of animals to be born. Millions of animals die in shelters every year because of unspayed and unneutered animals.

Cats can come into "heat" several times a year. They are will yowl and carry on quite loudly. Intact animals often mark and exhibit other types of territorial behavior. Your unaltered household pet can attract other feline visitors who create trouble. Be humane and get the neutering done early. Some facilities have the technology to do this as young as six to eight weeks of age.

11. Keep your cats and kittens indoors.
Keep animals in a safe home rather than roaming the streets. Disease transmission, predators, risk and a variety of other issues prompt me to urge you to keep your pet indoors. Cat condos and aviaries are nice, safe and humane alternatives if you want your cat to get sun.

12. Enjoy your new family addition!
There is nothing that can compare to having a wonderful animal companion. If you take the time to select and choose carefully you will have a lifetime of fun and love with your furry friend!

About the columnist: Since 1978 Diana L. Guerrero has worked professionally with both wild and domestic animals. Guerrero has been affiliated with, and certified by, a variety of animal programs in the USA and Europe. Based in California, she writes, consults, and speaks. Information on her animal career programs, training courses, and her books {What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality (SkyLight Paths, 2003), Blessing of the Animals (Sterling, 2007), Help! My Pet is Driving Me Crazy (Guerrero Ink, 2007), Animal Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners & Pet Professionals (Guerrero Ink, 2007)} can be found in this web site and in the shop. Questions for Guerrero should be submitted via the blog comments or membership forum.


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