I have owned cats for over 60 years. Between them and their vets, I have learned a great deal about how they tick.
A Good Idea
I believe a kitten would make a great pet! Kittens are adorable, cuddly, and so cute. They are playful and curious. But, you should be aware of some quirks that may be hard to deal with at first.
- They can get into the smallest of places.
- They love sleeping.
- Sometimes kittens do best growing up with a kitten companion.
- They are often too small to reach the litter box.
- A kitten might not know how to use the litter box.
- They may be easily spooked.
- A kitten needs kitten food for the first few months.
- They are teething and will bite anything.
- Even their soft claws can hurt.
- Shots and getting your kitten fixed are necessary items.
They Can Get into the Smallest Places
The natural instinct for a cat is to get into a tight cubby which will heat up faster. That is why they climbed in, to begin with—to get warmer. But they can get into areas that have blocked them from leaving. And then you will have trouble finding and freeing them. Examples:
- Kittens have been known to get into refrigerators, or the cabinets above them.
- Be very careful when opening an oven, especially if it is hot.
- When they are missing look into cabinets and closets as well as the hamper or clean clothes from the dryer (they will be warm).
- Be careful when opening doors, even to the outside. The kitten wants to check everything out but doesn't believe in danger.
- Drawers are sometimes easy to get into, will heat up, and will probably trap the kitten inside.
They Love Sleeping
Adult cats can sleep up to eighteen hours a day. Kittens will need that much and maybe a bit more. Be careful though because kittens are great at taking power naps. Five minutes on the warm couch and they are back out there racing from one thing to another.
They might be able to get your toddler to sleep with them using the power of suggestion, however. How? Mainly by sleeping next to them. You might want to move them once the child is asleep because they will want to play and the child next to them will wake up.
Sometimes Kittens Do Best With a Companion
Kittens are love bugs, well most of them are. However, when they have a companion, they play longer together leaving you to do other things. It doesn't have to be a kitten, but when kittens grow up together, they get along better.
Other companions can be almost anything: dogs, adult cats, rabbits, and even birds. However, you have to be patient when introducing them. A little at a time will be best. You should be aware that some dogs will kill cats just because they can so be careful when introducing them.
They Are Often too Small to Reach the Litter Box
This can be a real problem. Solutions can be simple, like getting a smaller box, or complicated, like picking them up and putting them into the box when they can't jump high enough.
I have used puppy pads with just a bit of kitty litter. I have also used a small can case bottom. It is small enough for the kitten but will still hold the litter. It might leak, so I usually put puppy pads under them and change both regularly. It may sound silly, but making a staircase out of books or something can help the kitten get in and out of a large box. Just show them a few times and they will get the hang of it. You can cover the books with bags, but the kitten might chew on the bags and make themselves sick. I just put puppy pads over them. Kittens don't seem to be interested in the pads for chew toys.
A Kitten Might not Know How to Use the Litter Box
Sometimes even older kittens forget how to use the box when it is new to them. But there are other reasons. A kitten may be from outside where the cats don't have litter boxes, they just dig in the dirt. A kitten might be taken away from its mother too soon and she hadn't taught that part yet.
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Sometimes a kitten may be too afraid of the new place and will pee where they hide. Just be patient with them. They will get the hang of it. Or you will find a creative solution for them.
Keep in mind that continuously failing to use the litter box may be a sign of injury or illness. Get them to a vet immediately.
They May Be Easily Spooked
Adult cats, let's face it, can be easily spooked. But kittens are worse because they don't know much about the world around them. A quick move, a loudly dropped item, or even a toaster that pops up can scare them; and that is just a few of them.
Be patient with your precious bundle, they will learn. But don't forget the saying that I hear a lot: "Who needs a TV when they have a cat?" They can be spooked, but they can fall off a chair, run into walls, and climb you if they smell food. They can try to catch a fish from your aquarium or fall into the water while sleeping on it. Get your camera out and don't be surprised by anything your cat may do.
A Kitten Needs Kitten Food for the First Few Months
Kittens are very active. They require food they can easily digest and that contains all the proteins they need to grow and be active. Regular cat food might be too hard for them to chew and is much harder for them to digest. Adult cat food can be trouble-some for them for many reasons. Ask your vet for additional advice on the subject.
They Are Teething and Will Bite Anything
Kittens, just like our children, are teething. They chew on boxes, shoes, clothes, and anything else they might find hanging around. But the thing that might be a problem is they might bite you or your child. It isn't an aggressive move on their part, just a natural instinct to bite on things when teething. If the kitten bites you or your child, just take the kitten out of the situation.
They will get the hint and stop because you stopped their fun each time they did it. Of course, some cats will always bite and scratch you, but most will not once they know better. One thing you should know is your cat will bite if you hurt him or 'rough him up' too much. Keep that in mind when dealing with your cat.
Even Their Soft Claws Can Hurt
The kitten is born with the ability to defend themselves, or at least try to. Even their tiny teeth and soft claws can hurt if used aggressively which is in kitten talk 'playing'. Please be patient with them if they bite. Kittens bite or scratch to strengthen their skills, their teeth, and claws.
Once weaned, a kitten is expected to defend itself and seek its own food. Being inside doesn't reduce their natural instincts and they will develop like outside cats at first. As they grow, they learn that you are their comfort so they stop the behavior.
Shots and Getting Your Kitten Fixed Are Necessary Items
Regular shots will protect your cat from many illnesses including Feline Leukemia and Rabies. Even inside ones need their shots. Your vet will ask if your cat is an outside cat, which endangers their health more, and will offer shots to help them stay healthy in that environment.
A 'fixed' cat is one that has been spayed (female) or neutered (male). They are generally less aggressive when they are fixed. They will stop peeing on most things because they no longer want to mate. They will often be more playful with less hurting from claws and teeth.
Kittens Can Be a Great Addition to Your Family
Kittens learn faster, are playful, and sleep a lot; but they are also great companions to kids of all ages. Teach your child to be gentle and remove the kitten if they are scratching or biting. They will learn and grow together. And, yes, they can be friends for life.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Cheryl Simonds