Want a kitten? Read this first…
Anyone that follows me on Twitter or Instagram, or who listened to June’s podcast will know that I am a proud mummy to two new deliriously sweet and incredibly cheeky kittens called Phil and Liz. They came home with me accidentally on purpose at 8 weeks old to join the family which already includes my gorgeous ginger cat Clive. (Yes, I enjoy very normal names for pets, what of it?).
This wasn’t just done on a whim. I may not have meant to bring two home, but we had been thinking for a while that we wanted to bring another cat into our life as company for our two year old. Since our older cat Ollie died in January, we had noticed Clive becoming more clingy and lonely, and decided that what he needed was some company. Having done the research, we realised this would be an ideal time to bring a younger cat into the home, so that is what we did.
Sadly though, this level of thought or research doesn’t always go into pet ownership. The UK ownership of cats as pets stands at approximately 8 million, and on average every 30 seconds someone in England and Wales dials 0300 1234 999 – the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line – for help.
Kittens might look cute and cuddly, but they are hard work and need lots of kitten care – here is what you need to know:
Cats can be expensive
I don’t begrudge a penny spent on my little angels, but cat ownership (in fact, any type of pet ownership) is not a cheap business. If you are buying from a pet shop instead of rescuing, or looking for a particular breed, expect to pay dollar, with ginger male being the priciest of the non breed cats.
After this, a good cat owner will have them neutered which helps unwanted illnesses, pregnancies or behaviours, they will need certain vaccinations before going outside and you may want to consider micro-chipping too. All of this can be done by your local vet – who will charge for a general check up.
Vets bill can soon rack up, so make sure you are fully insured. Not all illnesses are covered (we had a huge bill with Ollie as he had overnight hospital stays) but it pays to invest in a decent level of cover – your vet can recommend.
Then there is food, toys, grooming etc. It all adds up, and this is just the basics of kitten care.
Cats need lots of attention
I do not buy this whole cats are loners, independent creatures thing. Granted you don’t have to take them for walks (although I knew someone who did), but they need constant love and attention from you to keep them happy. And I don’t just mean the basics – play and games, lots of cuddles, lots of chat and you know what – you may have to give up part of the bed if they fancy sleeping there too!
By giving your cat lots of attention, you can also look out for abnormal behaviours – not eating, erratic sleeping etc which can help you catch problems early.
Cats need to be well cared for
Cats need a constant supply of good fresh clean water (even more so in summer months) and a meat-based high quality diet. We opt to keep our cats on dry food (Science Diet which is available from your vet) because it is very good for them, promotes healthy eyes and coat, avoids horrendous toilet issues and it doesn’t get stale and sticky in summer months. They get the odd treat of wet food when we are around, but this is not a regular thing. many people give their cat cow’s milk – PLEASE DON’T! This is not good for them, but you can buy a milk substitute for cats which works well.
You will need to keep a close eye on kittens and feeding as they grow up, and switch foods according to their age and needs at different life stages, and to make sure they don’t eat too much!
As well as this, cats and kittens need a place to go to the toilet, which must be cleaned regularly. You can get cat litter trays (still need one of these if you are letting your cats outside) which have a cover for privacy and you can buy cat littler from all good supermarkets. Believe you me, you want to get this right from the off, unless you want a cat spraying your house from a kitten.
Finally, cats need to feel safe – if you have outdoor cats, make sure they have easy access to a cat flap and if they are indoor, make sure the house is safe and secure. Give them a place to sleep and be kind.
If you are thinking about owning any sort of pet, see the RSPCA website for advice on kitten care, or talk to your local vet for support – but remember kittens and puppies are cute – but cats and dogs need the care and love when they are grown up too!