Each year, approximately 3.4 million cats are placed into animal shelters nationwide. Of them, 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of stray cats are returned to their owners. Before you adopt, it’s important to consider your responsibilities and know where to get a kitten.
Should I Get a Kitten?
Because bringing a kitten into your home is a huge obligation, there are several questions to consider before you make the leap:
- Is my home ready for a kitten? A kitten wants to explore every inch of her new home—she’ll want to climb on bookshelves, explore tiny spaces, and play with anything in which she has access. You must be willing and able to make changes to keep your kitten safe and your home intact. Follow these tips to kitten proof your home.
- Is my family ready for a kitten? You may be introducing a kitten into a home with small children or other pets. Young children who have never been around pets may not yet understand how to treat them. If you do have children and they beg and plead with you to get a new kitten, it’s important to never merely “cave in,” but rather be assured that both you and your kids are ready for the new responsibility. While children may promise to feed, care, and clean up after the cat, you will certainly still have a role in teaching your children how to properly care for the kitten.
- Do you have other pets to consider first? If you already have animals in your home, it may take awhile for them to get used to a new pet. Introduce them slowly and don’t leave them alone until you’re certain they are ready. Remember, current pets are used to receiving all of your attention and can be territorial of the house and you, so it’s important to continue to show the same amount of love to your other pets as you always have to help make the transition easier.
- Do I have enough time to spend with a kitten? Kittens are furry, micro-sized balls of energy who are eager to play with and get to know you. When left alone too often, kittens are more likely to develop behavior problems later. They need abundant exercise, training, and time to bond with you.
- Do I have the patience to train a new kitten? It’s also important to consider if you have enough patience to train a new kitten. Just like children, kitten’s require a lot of attention and education about what is acceptable behavior. Ensure you have patience to train your kitten for things such as litter box use, scratching, jumping on furniture.
- Can I afford to care for a kitten? The decision to adopt a kitten is a long-time commitment that begins with spaying/neutering, vaccination, and identification, and continues for years with food, litter, and regular veterinary care. This also includes the cost of health conditions your kitten could develop later in life. If you’re on a budget, check out the ASPCA’s chart of pet care costs.
- What kind of kitten should I get? Research different breeds before you decide on a particular kitten. Think about how much time you’re able to spend with her, how much room you have, allergies you have, and what kind of lifestyle you lead.
Choosing the Right Cat for Your Family
Between 7% and 20% of dogs and cats are returned to shelters after being adopted within the first 6 months of adoption every year. Finding the right match for you and your family will reduce these numbers and improve the bond you share with your new cat. If you’re not sure what kind of cat is right for you, ask for some advice. Research shows that owners who seek advice and support from family, friends, or a vet after adoption are 3 times more likely to keep their pets.
Where to Get a Kitten
Animal shelters, rescue organizations, and humane societies are filled with loving, healthy cats and kittens who are longing to find a good home. Research shelters in your town, including Hill’s partner shelters across the United States to help you find a kitten that is right for you. Your vet can also refer you to local rescue groups. Be prepared to provide a home inspection request, as many rescues want to make sure their kittens are going to good homes. Hill’s Facebook page provides a shelter directory tool and can point you to adoption events in your area. If you want a purebred kitten, ask your vet to recommend a local breeder.
Also, be sure to check out our kitten supply list article to prepare yourself for your new furry little friend. Whichever kitten you do decide to bring home, remember to love and care for her like one of the members of the family.