Choosing the Purr-Fect Match Kittens

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Pick Of The Litter

No matter where you find your kittens, you can use the same criteria to evaluate his health and emotional status. Not every furry baby will have stellar health or start out with the best socialization. You may choose him anyway, and that’s fine–these babies often are the neediest and deserving of a loving home. But it’s important that you recognize problems so you know what to expect, and can take steps to make up for any false starts and give the kitten every opportunity to thrive.

The Head-to-Toe Physical

The kitten’s skin is the largest physical structure of his body, and along with fur, is a barometer of kitten health. Pet the kitten all over. Short fur should be shiny and clean, long fur fluffy and without tangles, and there should be no bald spots or sores anywhere on his body. Skin sores or lost fur can be a sign of parasites like fleas, fungus infections like ringworm, or poor nutrition. All are treatable with prompt veterinary help.

The skin of the ears should be pink, clear, and clean. Any sort of discharge could indicate either an ear infection or more commonly, parasites like ear mites. Ear mites are very contagious between pets but are highly treatable.

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Kitten eyes should be clear, have no squint, and show no discharge or crust. His nose also should be clean, with only a small amount of clear discharge, if any. Runny eyes and/or nose could be a sign of upper respiratory infections (URI)—kitty colds. These are highly contagious between cats and can be devastating to young kittens. Again, veterinary attention and home nursing care are often necessary to help the baby recover.

Look inside the kitten’s mouth. Sores inside also point to URI and can make it hard for the baby to eat. The gums above the teeth should be pink—if they’re very pale, the baby may be anemic or dehydrated from fleas. If you suspect dehydration, check by grasping the loose skin at the baby’s neck (scruff) and lifting, then release. The skin will “tent” and stay elevated when the baby is dehydrated, rather than springing back immediately when he’s normal.

Check the area beneath the kitten’s tail, to be sure it’s clean and has no signs of diarrhea. Diarrhea can result from a wide range of health problems, from viruses to intestinal parasites. It can also cause dehydration very quickly in a tiny kitten.

A healthy kitten has only one speed when not sleeping—ZOOM! Anytime the youngster seems to act depressed or weak is cause for concern. Anemia, dehydration, fever, and a wide range of illnesses put a damper on kitten energy.

WARNING! Many kitten conditions are quite contagious. Even if the one you choose appears healthy, if any of his siblings (or his mom) have signs of illness, your kitten may be incubating the disease and could become sick after you take him home.

Emotional Evaluation

Kittens in a litter not only can look very different, but they can also have a wide range of personalities. It’s a good idea to first evaluate all the babies together—with the Mom present, when possible. There’s security in numbers and the kittens often will show their true colors when they have other cats nearby.

To get a good read on personality, sit on the floor and let the kittens come to you. You’re a huge giant-creature compared to the baby and you’ll be more approachable once on his own level.

The ideal kitten meets the world with curious eyes-wide-open, ready to explore, and with a courageous, take-no-prisoners curiosity. I call these kittens the Christopher Columbus Kitties because they seem to thrive on new experiences.

Look for a baby who, after perhaps a brief hesitation, comes forward to meet you with his tail spiked straight up to the ceiling. That’s a kitten greeting reserved for Mom and “superiors” and is a very good sign. He recognizes people as safe, but all-powerful beings and defers to you.

A certain amount of caution is healthy, of course. But the shy Shrinking Violet-type kitten that hides under the bed or cowers and shivers at your touch will need lots of help to become better adjusted. Others may actually be so terrified they hiss, spit, or even try to attack and can require more attention than you have to give. For shy babies, try enticing from a distance with a feather toy or ribbon to see if they’ll forget their reticence.

Pick up the kitten and set him on your lap. Does he snuggle down and purr? Does he fight and bite your hands? Or does he leap off your lap and chase off after another game? Each kitten type can become a great pet, and it depends on what you want out of the relationship.

Keep in mind that kittens often change a bit as they mature. But chances are, the purr-baby will come nearer to growing up to be a lap kitty, while the game-minded kitten will prefer ankle-rubbing and chase games rather than lap-sitting. Try to match the kitten to your expectations rather than fight kitten nature and become disappointed trying to change him down the road.

The biting kitten could frankly go either way. He’ll need a family who has the time to offer consistent training to help him learn to inhibit his bite and respect people. Otherwise, he’s likely to become the ruler in your house—and you may not like his rules!

Is He Old Enough?

What is the best age to adopt your new kitten? The majority of professional cat breeders and many well-respected cat behaviorists say that cat babies should stay with siblings and Mom-cat for at least 12 to 16 weeks. Of course, that’s not always possible.

Maturity related to emotional development as it to physical growth. Physically, kittens are able to eat and thrive on commercial food as early as three weeks of age and most are weaned by 6 to 8 weeks of age. That’s the most common time kittens leave and go to new homes, primarily I believe for convenience’s sake. As soon as kittens reach that 6 to 8 weeks mark, are able to eat, and have a set of preventative vaccines, they’re out the door.

But at that age, kittens are just starting to learn to be proper cats. And no matter how well-intentioned, human caretakers are not able to do as good a job as cat-parents and furry siblings. Kittens learn from other cats how to use the litter box and cover their waste; groom themselves; play nicely and inhibit claws and bites; use and understand body language and verbal cues, and to defer to dominant felines. They also take their cues from other cats about what’s safe and what’s scary and to be avoided. The thing is: if Mom-cat shows off kittens a positive and good reaction to a friendly dog, it’ll be more possible to get along in a multi-pet home.

Kittens adopted too early often claw and bits more than those who have been kitty-corrected by siblings and Mom. As well, they may be less tolerant or fearful of other cats, because they don’t recognize all the proper feline etiquette of the social structure. And because cats tend to consider their human to be part of their family, it’s important for the kitten to respect you and defer to your rules of the house, just as he would a cat-in-command.

Proper socialization not only contains interaction with other cats but positive treating by people through this critical period. That guarantee the kitten is well confident, adjusted, and emotionally healthy.

In most cases, we do not have the luxury of adopting a kitten at the “ideal” age. That will force you as the human parent to do your best to do Mom-cats job and teach them how to be a proper cat. Each age has particular challenges, too. After all, a kitten is a kitten from birth until he reaches his first birthday – that’s a lot of development and emotional and physical growth!

Kitten Growth Progression = What to Expect
Neonatal Period = Birth through week two
Transitional Period = End of Neonatal Period to week three
Socialization Period = Week three through week nine to ten
Juvenile Period = Week ten until sexual maturity

At Birth

When your kitten was born, he measured four to six inches long and weighed only two to four ounces. He was blind, deaf, toothless, and unable to regulate his own body temperature to stay warm. Newborns are able to maintain only 95-degree temperature (normal adult temp is 100-102.5) so they must be in contact with Mom or surrogate warmth to survive.

At this age, kittens depend on touch, sense of smell, and thermal sensation to find Mom and food, and they move by wriggling their bodies from side to side. Babies purr as they nurse, and most return to the same nipple very time. That’s because they scent-mark the nipple the first time they nurse and the smell acts as a beacon to draw them back thereafter.

Week One

After seven days, the kitten’s birth weight doubles. Kittens spend four hours a day suckling, and more than 16 hours sleeping. Instead of moving like little worms, their shoulders, pelvis, and legs develop enough so they can drag themselves along the ground. They look a bit like swimmers paddling across the bedding. By this age, the body’s shiver reflex develops, and that means they are better able to regulate temperature and keep themselves warm.

Tube Feeding

Sometimes newborn kittens are so sick and weak, they aren’t able to suck or swallow, and will starve without being helped to eat. Experienced breeders often tube feed these kittens.

It only takes a couple of minutes to do—a huge time-saver when feeding several babies—and you know each baby gets the correct amount. A flexible hollow tube is threaded down the baby’s throat into the stomach and food injected with a syringe. It’s easy to do once you’ve been shown how by the veterinarian. Here’s how breeders and veterinarians recommend tube feeding be done.

  1. Buy a Number 5 French catheter with a 6 or 12 cc syringe from your drugstore. It’s a good idea to lubricate the inside of the syringe and plunger with cooking oil before you begin, so there’s no sticking. And after each use, be sure to wash everything in hot soapy water, rinse, and keep clean in a plastic bag.
  2. Measure the distance between the kitten’s mouth and her stomach, so the tube doesn’t fall short of the target or go too far. Place the end of the tube at the baby’s last rib—that’s where the stomach lies—and measure from there to her mouth for the proper length. Mark the place on the tube with a piece of tape that can be moved as the baby grows.
  3. Fill the syringe with the proper amount of commercial kitten or puppy formula. Warm it to body temperature—about 100 degrees—by floating in a bowl of warm water while you place the feeding tube.
  4. Hold the baby in an upright position to make it easier to pass the tube. Put the open end of the tube against the roof of her mouth, and thread it down the esophagus into the stomach. This tends to trigger the gag reflex, but that should stop once the tube has gone beyond the back of the throat, and the kitten will swallow to help it along. Don’t force the tube, it should slide down easily and if it doesn’t, you may be in the airway by mistake—so withdraw the tube and start over.
  5. Some kittens are so weak they may not cough or struggle even if the tube goes into the lungs, so check your placement before giving any food or you could drown them. Put the end of the outside portion of the tube straight down in about an inch of water, so that no water runs into the tube—if you see a stream of air bubbles escape from the tube, that means you’re in the lungs. Remove the tube and try again. Usually, this isn’t a problem because typically the tube is too large to pass through the windpipe and most easily goes down the esophagus as it should.
  6. Connect the formula-filled syringe to the tube and slowly inject the kitten formula down the tube into the stomach. Then quickly remove the tube, and cuddle the baby for a moment to settle any bruised feelings. Usually, healthy kittens older than two weeks become strong enough to nurse on their own and begin to struggle against the feeding tube.

Week Two

By the second week, kittens suckle up to three hours a day. Their eyes begin to open between nine to 12 days of age, and babies learn to recognize Mom and others as friends or foe. Ears begin to unseal about this same time.

All kittens have blue eyes when they first open. The final, adult eye color develops as they mature, usually by three to four months of age. But some kitties, like the Korat breed, may not develop final eye color until they are four years old.

Kittens practice raising their chest with front legs and strengthen their muscles by moving about more. And the first deciduous (baby or milk) teeth start to appear at this age, the tiny incisors across the front of the mouth.
Week Three

Nursing time starts to decrease, but the babies still suckle about two hours a day. The rear legs gain strength and kittens start to stand and walk on wobbly legs.

A lot happens during this period. The sense of smell becomes fully developed, and the babies begin to catalog the meaning of different scents. Kittens start to clumsily play with each other, follow Mom around, learn about the litter box, and are now able to retract their claws. They start to watch Mom and mimic her by self-grooming themselves. Body temperature control develops. Normal body temperature increases to between 97 to 99 degrees during this period.

The prime socialization period begins. What kittens experience beginning at this age will have a huge impact on how well-adjusted (or not) they become as adults. Kittens handled a few minutes daily by people during their first month of life have an improved learning ability.

Week Four

At this age, Kitten hearing is fully developed, and the bodyweight has doubled again. Mom’s milk production starts to decrease just as the kitten’s energy needs grow. Curiosity and hunger spur the babies to sample Mom’s solid food.

By this age, kittens understand the concept of the litter box from watching Mom. However, they still have a limited capacity for “holding it” and may have accidents when the box isn’t close enough to accommodate their needs. They continue to develop physically. Needle sharp canine teeth appear next to the incisors, and premolars grow behind the canines (three on the top, two on the bottom).

Social play with Mom and siblings begins now, and includes running, rolling, biting, wrestling, climbing, and jumping. The righting mechanism that allows cats to land on their feet is fully developed by week four—but kittens can still be injured by falls! Play helps them tone muscles, and practice all the necessary cat-moves they’ll need as an adult. Play is also fun. If you are the “mother figure”; it’s up to you to educate the kitten about eating grown-up food and the litter box, playing “nice”.

Take the little one to the litter box immediately after he’s eaten—that’s a prime time for elimination. Scratch your finger through the litter to give him the idea. It may help to plant one of his “deposits” in the box for a scent cue, too. Once he’s been productive and urinated or defecated, praise him, and use the scooper to cover up the waste. Let the kitten leave the box and room under his own power. If possible, so he learns and remembers how he got there.

Mom-cat and siblings let the baby cat know if he claws or bites too hard and they’ll hiss at him or put an end to the game. As a surrogate Mom, you should do the same. Avoid letting him play with your fingers or toes—that only encourages him to bite. And when he does accidentally nail you, don’t put up with it. Hiss at him sharply, or say “No!” and end the game. He’ll learn to play nice and inhibit his bites and claws to continue playing.
Week Five to Seven

Finally, the body thermostat has matured enough the kitten doesn’t rely on Mom or siblings to stay warm. Kittens gain two to four ounces a week from birth to five to six months of age. The kitten immune system is also fully developed by 6 to 8 weeks of age, while the immune defense he gained from Mom begins to disappear.

The last premolars erupt by six to eight weeks of age. The drive to copy Mom is very strong, and they learn what they should do by imitating her. Kittens spend nearly an hour a day eating solid food—but they’ll still pester Mom to nurse if she’ll let them.

Play and interaction with others take over. This is the period when kittens learn to recognize friends and enemies. Positive experiences with other pets and people during this period guarantee they’ll be well-adjusted adult cats.

When you adopt a kitten at this age, it’s up to you to expose him to a wide range of situations so he’ll be willing to accept them as he ages. He should learn to accept being handled and groomed by you and strangers; so the veterinarian won’t have to fight him for an examination. This is the ideal age to train him to accept the leash and the cat carrier.

That allows him to travel with you when necessary, either to the vet or groomers or across town to visit Grandma. And if you think to bring another pet or a child in your future, you may introduce him to positive experiences at this age.
That way, he’ll accept them as a normal part of his world and you’ll prevent behavior problems down the road.

Week Eight to Nine

By this age, kittens are fully weaned and eating a portion of commercial kitten food. They spend up to an hour each day in play toys, feathers, etc. That strengthens muscles, practices social skills, and teaches life lessons by learning to inhibit bites and claws, discover what rolls or bounces when patted with a forepaw, and what runs away or fights back.

Month Three to Six

The social play reaches its peak between week nine through week 16. Older kittens and adult cats continue to play after four months, but not to the same extent. Baby teeth start to fall out at 12 weeks and are replaced by permanent adult teeth. A total of 30 adult teeth are present in most cats by age seven months.

Female kittens may experience their first breeding season (heat) and may become pregnant as early as four months of age; but most reach this point at five to six months of age. “Oriental” breeds like Siamese are fertile at an earlier age.

Tip. Ask your veterinarian about early age spays and neuters. Many shelters and some private practice veterinarians now routinely sterilize kittens (and puppies) as early as eight weeks of age. That prevents any possibility of an “accidental” litter down the road.

Month Nine to Twelve

Male kittens become sexually mature and are able to father babies as early as eight to nine months and develop male-cat behaviors like spraying as early as six to seven months (average age is nine months). Both sexes continue to fill out and gain weight. Coats on longhaired breeds like Maine Coon and Persian cats may not fully develop until they are 15 to 18 months old.

Adopting an Orphan

Sometimes the mother can’t or won’t feed her babies. Whatever the circumstance, when their mother can’t do it, you must become Mom-cat and take care of the kitten’s needs. That includes keeping him warm, fed and clean, and helping him eliminate waste.

When the baby is by himself, he’ll need help staying warm. Wrap a hot water bottle in a heavy towel to provide a heat source. An empty plastic pop bottle filled with water works well, too, or fill a sock with dry uncooked rice and heat it in the microwave. Be sure to buffer the object with towels so the baby won’t be burned.

For food, commercial queen milk replacers are the best. Just Born or KMR products are available at pet supply stores or from your veterinarian. The amount and how often to feed depends on the size and age of the babies and the product content, so follow the directions on the package. But newborn kittens need feeding every two to four hours.

In a pinch, professional kitten breeders recommend a homemade formula called “Glop.” Combine one 12-ounce can of evaporated milk; two tablespoons mayonnaise, two tablespoons yogurt, two tablespoons Karo syrup, and two egg yolks and mix well.

Then dissolve one package of Knox gelatin in 12 ounces warm water (or Pedialyte), and combine into the mixture. Keep in the refrigerator until needed. The mixture forms custard and can be warmed until liquid to put in a bottle or syringe for feeding.

If you have nothing else, then regular cow’s milk or diluted evaporated milk can be used on a temporary basis. Be sure to warm the formula to about 100 degrees so it doesn’t upset the tummies. Nursing bottles are also available or you can use an eyedropper or medicine syringe. Be sure to keep the baby in a normal nursing position—on its tummy—for best results. Most babies can begin eating solid food by three weeks of age.

Finally, be sure to wash the baby head-to-toe with a dampened soft cloth. This mimics the feel of his mother’s washing tongue and also gets him used to being handled. You must also stimulate him to use the bathroom—his mother would lick him. You simply use a cloth or cotton ball dampened with warm water and gently wash the genitals to prompt urination and a bowel movement.

Matching Your Lifestyle With Kittens

The kitten is only half the equation necessary to make this match work. Before you settle on your final choice, it’s important to evaluate your personal situation because not every kitten is right for each circumstance. Living with the baby will be much easier by choosing a kitten that fits your lifestyle. Instead of choosing a kitten whose needs you can’t meet. By knowing what to expect, you can avoid major heartache down the road.

Apartment or House? City or Country?

Where do you live? And where will the kitten stay? Take into consideration the amount of space you have available, not only for a tiny kitten–but for the adult-size cat he’ll become in 12 months or so. Cats are very territorial and do best when they can “claim” some of the real estate as their own property. This is especially important if you consider adopting more than one kitten and want to avoid future squabbles. A good rule of thumb is to have no more cats than you have rooms—so a one-bedroom apartment is perfect for one kitten. But don’t be surprised if the little kitten claims the bedroom and leaves the sofa for you!

A small apartment can be a perfect home. Cats adapt well to being apartment and city pets. City cats, though, are not safe outside so keep in mind your kitten should be safely homebound whether you’re there to supervise his antics, or not. If you rent your apartment or home, your landlord likely will have something to say about pets so be sure to clear things first so there are no surprises.

Owning your own home eliminates the landlord question, and gives you more room to satisfy an active kitten—or even several. A home with an enclosed garden or yard may also offer some flexibility about offering safe outdoor excursions.

But don’t forget to take a look at your décor as well. Kittens and lots of fragile, expensive breakables within paw-reach are a recipe for disaster. All kittens play like non-stop whirl-i-gigs, but some are more active than others and may retain their high-octane even as adults. Decide whether you prefer a swing-from-the-drapes climbing fanatic, like one of the Rex kittens, or if a more placid Ragdoll kitten suits you better.

Time Constraints

Every kitten takes time. That’s part of the fun, cuddling and playing with your new baby, and building an unbreakable bond that lasts a lifetime. Besides available space in your home, you must consider how a young kitten may fit into your daily routine. Do you work outside of the home for long hours, when the kitten must be left alone unattended? If you’re lucky (like me!) you can take your kitten to work with you or work at home. Even then he’ll need a safe place to sleep, eat, use the bathroom and play while you’re distracted by the business.

You’ll also have to add training time (yes, kittens can be trained!), litter box duty, and routine maintenance care to your schedule. All kittens need basic care like nail trims, but some like the lovely Scottish Fold breed requires more attention to ear care. Kittens with flat faces and big eyes, like the Exotic, need help keeping their eyes clean and healthy. While

Domestic Shorthairs and their purebred short-furred cousins need only a lick and a promise for coat care, Persians and other kittens with luxurious long fur may need grooming every day. Before you choose your ideal kitten, be sure you’ll have time to devote to keeping that fluffy big-eyed beauty in perfect condition.

Other Roommates For kittens?

Unless you live alone, you will need to consult with other people and consider their concerns before choosing your kitten. Will your spouse or roommate support the decision to acquire a kitten? Are your children responsible enough to take part in the care of the new family member?

Discuss plans with your roommate or spouse and be sure you have his or her support. After all, they’ll have to make adjustments to the new family member, too. The new kitten deserves to have a happy and stress-free environment to bloom; with support from all the people, he’ll live with. It’s not fair to him to be the target of tension or resentment.

Very young children can be taught to properly handle and respect a pet as a living creature—and not a stuffed toy to be dragged about by a leg or tail. Depending on age, children can also become involved in the care responsibilities of the kitten by filling the food or water bowl and playing with the baby. The ultimate responsibility for the kitten always falls to the child’s parent. Always.

So if you choose to adopt a kitten and you have a toddler, then a pet several months old is the best choice. Very young kittens are incredibly fragile and can be injured unintentionally by your youngster simply by being dropped or held incorrectly. An older kitten is better able to stay out of the child’s way and avoid being “loved” too hard—and that also protects your child from an inadvertent scratch or nip when the kitten tries to defend himself. Young children beyond the toddler stage will also need supervision but can help with some care responsibilities. Having a pet can, indeed, be a great way to teach a child responsibility—but just be sure it’s not at the expense of the kitten.

You must also consider the impact a new kitten may have on other pets. I often talk with people who already have an adult cat and want to adopt a kitten as a “gift” to their pet for a playmate or companion.

Age and gender of the new kitten can impact how well he’ll be accepted by resident pets. A good rule of thumb is to introduce a younger animal of the opposite sex to the resident pet because there’s less chance for territorial challenges or threats to the older animal’s social position.

WARNING! Are you sure the resident cat really wants a companion? An additional pet rarely solves an existing cat behavior problem and may actually prompt new ones. Statistically, single cat households have fewest behavior problems. The potential for spraying and fighting increases with each cat added to the household.

When a resident pet is involved, careful introductions are important to help them become part of one big happy family. That can take a great deal of patience, energy, and time.

When you have a dog, it’s certainly possible for the kitten and canine to become fast friends. There will be safety issues, though, because some dog breeds have tendencies to be aggressive toward small animals (like kittens). Detailed information about how best to introduce your new kitten to children, cats, dogs, and other pets can be found in Compatibility: Kitten Society Explained.

Which Side of the Fence

The indoor/outdoor debate continues to polarize cat lovers around the world. The question is, should your kitten be allowed outdoors, or should he be confined to an indoor-only lifestyle?

There are pros and cons to both sides. One argument says that cats that spend time in the great outdoors may enjoy a more “natural” lifestyle. Some proponents believe this promotes the cat’s emotional health. Others like the convenience of letting the cat take care of bathroom business and scratch-marking outside the house. In the best of all possible worlds, I’d agree.

However, the great outdoors has many risks for cats, and especially kittens. Being hit by a car is the number one cause of pet injury and death. Kittens have no experience avoiding these dangers, and even savvy adult cats do not have the necessary vision to accurately dodge cars. They simply cannot judge how fast a car travels, or tell if it’s coming toward them or speeding away.

Outdoor kittens are at high risk for bite wounds from other animals, because the neighbor dogs or cats, or even wild animals, may not take kindly to a curious baby trespassing on their turf. Contact with strange animals also exposes the baby to life-threatening diseases like rabies, feline leukemia, and feline immunodeficiency virus. Outdoor life opens the door to many parasites—from fleas to ticks to intestinal worms—that love to make a meal of your kitten, and can make him sick besides. Cats allowed to roam outdoors are more likely to die at an earlier age, due to accident or illness.

Frankly, most kittens never offered the opportunity to go outside don’t miss it or feel deprived. You can provide an interesting, stimulating indoor environment to keep your kitten emotionally and physically healthy. Offer lots of climbing opportunities, hiding places, kitten toys, secure sleeping places, scratch objects, and window perches to watch birds and other critters from the safety of the indoors. Some kittens get a huge rush out of videos of chipmunks, birds or fish designed for their entertainment. If you live in a high-rise apartment, there’s really no other option.

Kittens given access to the great outdoors should always wear a collar and identification. That way, if the worst happens and he wanders too far, the tag will get him safely home to you. Tattoos or microchip identification are also options.

I recognize, though, that everybody has different circumstances, and that some older kittens can “insist” they want outdoors. At times it may indeed become a quality-of-life issue to keep him happy by providing some outdoor time. If you live in a more rural area, there are ways to offer your kitten the outdoors and still keep him safe.

I do not believe it is ever acceptable to simply open the back door and let kitty roam at will. Would you offer that freedom to your four-year-old human child? Any outdoor time should be supervised by you to make sure your kitten stays out of trouble. Training the baby to walk on a leash—what I call liberation training—gives him the ability to safely travel beyond the walls of your home.

You can also create safe outdoor playgrounds for your kitten, either by building a homemade enclosure or investing in a commercial cat condo. These can be set up in a shady section of the yard so the kitten has a chance to enjoy the tickle of grass between his toes, and can chase butterflies, but keeps strange animals out and limits Kitty’s ability to find cars. You can even design these kitty playgrounds to have access through a window or pet door. Cat show professionals often invest in lovely “cat condos” that keep their beauties safely contained.

Fencing the yard may provide a safety barrier for most dogs, but as the kitten grows, she’ll likely be able to climb and vault out. A product called Cat Fence-In Systems can help. It is available by mail order and listed in the advertisement sections of cat specialty magazines.

The system provides a series of netting that attaches to an existing fence or other structures and prevents the cat from climbing out. Cat Fence-In Systems can be one answer to safely containing a kitten within the boundaries of a yard.

When the Heart Rules

Even when we know how to pick the healthiest and best-socialized kitten, from the ideal source, our heart may not listen to our head. Instead, it’s that sickly kitten with bald spots, covered with fleas, and eyes barely open that captures your soul. These “challenged” kittens need lots of help and will require much time and energy.

It’s important to remember several things. Will you have time to medicate a sick baby, or get up throughout the night for kitten feedings if he’s an orphan? Special needs kittens can require your attention and help 24 hours a day. Be sure you can address these needs either yourself or with help, before committing to such adoption.

When the kitten starts out with strikes against him, it’s a good idea to have your veterinarian evaluate his health so you know what to expect. Sadly, there are kitten illnesses like FIP that cannot be cured.

Other times, kittens have a rocky start but with dedicated nursing and medication can survive, and even thrive. It may require weeks of added expense and time. When the condition is contagious (like ringworm) you’ll need to consider how to protect other pets or your children.

I can’t make that decision for you. Just be informed before you embark on your kitten-saving crusade. Success will forge a strong, unbreakable loving bond between you that can last all the years of his life.

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